SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University will host its 2019 commencement on May 13.
Classes are over and campus is quiet.
Students are not bustling about, texting or talking on the ground, but high above them, tweeting is just getting started.
Since 2012, a pair of red-tailed hawks have been nesting on Lyman Hall, home to the ROTC program.
They live in Orange Nation, so their names should be no surprise — a female, “SU Sue” and her mate, a male named “Otto.”
Over the years, cameras have been capturing the movements of the red-tailed hawks.
The incredible close-ups were taken to a new level with new higher-quality 24-hour live cameras installed in February.
SU alumna Anne Marie Higgins donated the funds needed for the new cameras in memory of her husband, the late Judge Thomas W. Higgins.
Both of them were birders.
“I feel that it’s a legacy of my husband — that means the most to me,” Anne Marie said. “I’m giving people joy and teaching people about beautiful birds.”
Anne Marie has been studying SU Sue and Otto’s every move as one of the lead camera operators.
SU Sue laid three eggs. Two hatched with the first chick being born on May 5.
On the 44th day after the third egg was laid, it was deemed non-viable by consulting wildlife specialists.
The Facebook page connected to the hawk nest cam released the following statement, in part, about the unhatched egg: Based upon historical hatch data from the nests at Syracuse University and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is not an uncommon occurrence in nature. We will never know the exact cause, but it is possible the egg may not have fertilized or there could have been a genetic problem with the embryo.
Despite the tough news about the third egg, Anne Marie says she and thousands watching are grateful to gaze at two lively hawk chicks.
Studying the red-tailed hawks for several years when they are nesting and caring for new chicks, Anne Marie says Otto does most of the hunting, bringing small animals to the nest.
SU Sue also hunts and leaves occasionally but always returns quickly, sometimes bringing pieces of trees, twigs, pine branches, and bark to keep the nest clean with natural vapors and oils.
“They’re such beautiful animals and they’re so gentle with their young and a lot of people are surprised by that,” Anne Marie said. “They say, ‘Wow! This is going to be a hawk one day and right now it’s helpless.'”
The chicks will spend about 45 days in the nest until they take their first flight — a sight Anne Marie says many will be waiting and watching for.
For even more views of the nesting red-tailed hawks, Anne Marie says she will be donating another camera across from Lyman Hall to capture their comings and goings. Once it is installed, Web cam viewers can choose “other views.”
The SU Hawk Nest Cam is live day and night and can be viewed by clicking here.
To see Otto and SU Sue’s journey with their two chicks, follow their Facebook page.
Remembering Tim Higgins:
In addition to the SU Hawk Nest Cam in Anne Marie’s husband’s name, she also wrote a book about experiences she has had since he passed away. Anne Marie and Tim were looking forward to celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary when Tim was diagnosed with leukemia. He died 18 days later. For more information about the book, Dancing in Two Realms click here.