Ryerson is home to many red-tailed hawks

Photo: Farnia Fekri

The incredible hawk

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By Aidan Hamelin

They’ve been watched and photographed, perched on Kerr Hall’s clock tower or eating a squirrel atop a lamppost. Ryerson is home to the majestic red-tailed hawk, a lot of them, and there is nothing to fear.

Red-tailed hawks “pose no threat to students” and are indicators of a healthy ecosystem, said Dan Frankian, founder of Hawkeye Bird and Animal control.

First-years fear not, hawks don’t hunt humans — but they are “great for pest control,” Frankian said.

“They scare pigeons, they scare seagulls, they scare all sorts of animals,” Frankian said.

Typically a light brown with white speckling on their breast, the red-tailed hawk is distinguished from other birds-of-prey by their short fat bodies and wide rounded wingspan, giving them the nickname “chickenhawk.”

Originally noticed nesting outside Sheldon Levy’s office in 2012, Ryerson Today reported seeing only three — a couple and what was speculated to be their child. But as sightings become more frequent, it is clear that Ryerson’s red-tailed hawk population has grown.

“I like the idea of a hawk just wrecking shit up, doing hawk things,” Julianne Mann, a fourth-year arts and contemporary studies major, said.

The red-tailed hawk is considered a partially migrant bird, meaning that although they generally migrate south for the winter they have be known to stay in northern habitats year-long despite harsh temperatures, so they could be sticking around indefinitely.

“Having wild habitats in an urban area is a good thing,” Reva White, a fifth-year urban planning major, said. “If you can have species from the wild still existing in urban areas, that’s ideal.”

“I’m happy that our urban environment still makes room for wild life,” said Laura Fisher, a professor in the faculty of English.

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