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Ohio State students react to hawk spotted on Oval

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A red-tailed hawk perches on a tree on the Oval. Credit: Lee Mcclory / Lantern reporter

A red-tailed hawk perches on a tree on the Oval.
Credit: Lee Mcclory / Lantern reporter

A red-tailed hawk has caught the attention of some students at Ohio State this semester.

The hawk doesn’t necessarily live on the Oval, as Barbara Ray, wildlife education director at the Ohio Wildlife Center, said hawks typically hunt within a 10 mile radius, however some students said they’ve seen a hawk there this semester.

“I saw it eating a rabbit in January,” said Adam Pickard, a second-year in business. “Nine or 10 people were lined up taking pictures of it, probably to post on Instagram.”

Josh Edwards, a third-year in social work, said he’s seen the bird more recently.

“I was really surprised. I saw it flying off a tree. I thought, ‘That’s a big wingspan,’” Edwards said. “That was on Monday (Feb. 10).”

Red-tailed hawks are common in Ohio, and while it isn’t odd for a red-tailed hawk to nest in a city, typically they dwell in open spaces, Ray said. She added, though, the hawks are moving into urban areas more frequently.

“They’ve learned that if they are in places that are more populated and well-lit, they get more warning about predators,” Ray said. “(OSU has) probably had them nesting on (its) campus for years.”

She said OSU has the living requirements a hawk seeks.

“You guys have a lot of big trees, and the main requirement is the right-sized tree and a certain type of tree,” Ray said. “(The hawk) may just use campus as a hunting ground because there are so many squirrels.”

Red-tailed hawks typically choose trees that are about 65.3 feet tall, according to a University of California Oak Woodland Management study.

Red-tailed hawks are the most common kind of hawks in North America and have an average lifespan of 21 years. They typically have a wingspan of 38 to 43 inches, according to “National Geographic.”

Ray said, though, if the hawk ever came too close to a person, they should know that hawks are fairly easy to scare away.

“Hawks are scared to death of umbrellas,” she said. “Certain objects look strange and scary to them.”

3 comments

  1. I’m an expert on Red-tailed Hawks; having bred them, banded them, studied them across N. America, rehabbed them, trapped them, trained and hunted with them (am Master Falconer), etc.

    There were a number rather large inaccuracies in your OSU Red-tail article. Your info source meant well, but her information was in gross error.

    I’d be delighted to provide more accurate information and explanations.

    –John Blakeman, Huron, Ohio 419-433-5563

  2. Phone number mis-entered: 419-433-5639

  3. I’ve seen hawks twice running around the shoe in the early hours (around 630 am) feasting on the pigeons that roost there.

    I’ve always enjoyed birds of prey and am glad to see it chipping away at those rats with wings we call pigeons.

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