Mother Hawk Separated From Her Babies After Attacking Man In Somerville

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

SOMERVILLE (CBS) — The hawk that attacked a man walking near a Tufts University building Friday has been captured. Experts say the mother hawk was protecting her chicks in a nest on that building.

State wildlife officials brought her to a sanctuary at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. The bird has been tagged and will be released into the wild Tuesday.

“We’ve put a band on her so we can actually track her. Tomorrow morning she’ll be on her way to go wherever she wants,” says museum director Norman Smith.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

He says she’ll probably go right back to that Tufts building, but since her nest has been removed, she won’t need her aggressive instincts to protect it. They say by then, she will likely have forgotten about her young.

Wildlife officials also brought her two chicks to the museum, where they plan to place them into “foster” nests.

“The wild parents will actually feed them and they won’t know the difference, and the parents will come in and say, ‘Where have you been all this time,’ and start feeding them right away. Then they’ll go off on their own and hopefully grow up to be adult red tail hawks in the future,” says Smith.

Some witnesses reported seeing someone climb the fire escape on that building before the attack. Whether that happened or not, officials say they can’t take any chances with the agitated hawk, especially with Tufts graduation ceremonies coming up.

The man who was attacked, Mike Doherty, had to have 15 stitches. Most were near his eye.

More from Christina Hager
  • fangorn

    Federal laws protect hawks and their nests. WhyFwhy was this allowed? The nest should have been destroyed before eggs were laid, if it it was going to be a problem.

  • Nelle

    Blue Hills Trailside Museum is in MILTON not Milford. Note to Editor: Proof read.

    • Jennifer

      I know Nelle, right? What ever happened to proofreading. Makes one wonder how acurate they are with news.

      • Alex

        *accurate (Just for the sake of irony.)

  • fortguy85

    wow..i agree…it’s milton..not just can’t get things correct….just sloppy journalism

  • NickW

    Mistakes happen. Who cares of the typo. People are so quick to judge.

    But I wouldn’t have separated the hawks. She was only protecting the babies.

  • Mike

    “Beautiful bird,” said Tufts senior Zach Meyer, who is building a sound synthesizer in the building. He said he had tried to walk up the fire escape for a closer look at the nest but retreated when the birds started squawking at him.

  • Susan R

    What on Earth gave them the idea that “she will forget her young” (?) and the babies won’t know the difference. The only beings not knowing the difference are the idiots who thought that up….I’m appalled at the lack of intelligence with the “rescue” organization…who on Earth gave you the job? Yes, the mother hawk will know the difference and yes, the babies will know its not their mother….and yes, the new hawk mother will know too. I guess it would have been to hard to just give her the chicks…to mother again….seems simpler and less traumatic all around.
    If the man who got attacked was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, he wouldn’t have been attacked.

    • Nik

      Learn something about birds, please! She WILL forget her young and the chicks WON’T know the difference.

    • S.

      As a professional ornithologist, I can tell you without a doubt that the babies will easily be accepted into another nest by another set of hawk parents. Whether the babies “know the difference” is unknown, but they will be raised to be healthy adult hawks, which is the important part.

      I can’t say that the mother, who has now be separated from her babies will “forget” her young. She will most likely return to the nesting site as soon as she is released. Upon seeing no nest there, she will eventually go on her merry way. She will probably not attempt to nest again this year, but that energy saved by not breeding (or not fledging young) this year means that she has a higher chance of surviving until next year to breed again.

      Please note that wild birds, specifically raptors, are NOT like dogs or cats or parrots. First off, their brain is structured differently, they have very little cortex (higher processing power for emotions, etc.) compared to many animals we keep as pets. They are wild, not domesticated, animals and therefore are only hindered by our anthropomorphizing of their emotions. If they do feel emotions, they are most likely very different from how we understand emotions.

      However, there are strict federal laws that prevent tampering with raptor nests. I don’t know how they got the approval to do this.

    • becs

      Birds are not people. They don’t have emotions they way people do. They have much smaller brains that are not capable of higher thought. The rescue group is not wrong about the “separation issues”, because the hawks have no feelings. Some guy goes and pokes a nest – momma bird is going to defend her young.

      Under federal law, you can’t move or impact any raptor nest after the young have hatched until they fledge and leave the nest. There have been many many projects delayed recently (off the top of my head, i know of road work and the construction of a baseball stadium) because of nesting raptors. I wonder how this group was allowed to destoy the nest before the birds had fledged?

      • Jam

        Just because birds don’t have a human brain doesn’t mean they don’t feel anything. They don’t have the muscles in their face that we do to show facial expression and they can’t speak human to tell us how they feel. Obviously, you have never owned pets or you would realize that all creatures feel stress, or anger, fear, and happiness just like we do.

    • Barb Townsend

      Totally agree the mother hawk should not have been separated from her young.

  • Ellen

    Well it could have been worse. We could be living in Merrimack N.H.dealing with big black bears protecting their young.

  • dyanne

    I work at Tufts in the building adjacent to the nest, and know for a fact that this man is lying. He climbed up the fire escape to take a picture of the nest, and was given a “warning” peck by one of the parent hawks-but he did not retreat. He attempted to stare down the hawk, at which point he was nipped again, and he dropped to the ground.

  • Nancy

    I wonder if there will be a correction/update informing everyone that the “poor man who was attacked” actually provoked and deserved the attack? Of course, it’s a little late for the poor hawk and her chicks! I wonder if the powers that be would be so quick to take a human’s child away because it was being protected from attack?

  • i like birds

    The man who was attacked should be fined the $ that was used to move the birds, and now to feed them. It’s tough enough out there for animals in the city, but when someone does something stupid, we should let nature take care of its own. It’s protecting its nest, which I’m sure is not on the ground, and would not be an issue at graduation.

    • i like birds

      one more comment “tomorrow morning she’ll be on her way to go where she wants” says smith…not really, not anywhere where people might see her and be nosy, she’ll be moved again.

  • mark

    What are you people? Morons? This guy was attacked by a hawk walking near a university building. This animal is obviously a threat to humans there. the authorities did the best thing – remove the nest and put the chicks in a foster nest, capture and tag the hawk so they can actually track it, then release it back into the wild. No bird was hurt and everyone goes on about their business. What is there to complain about?

    • Brook

      Wait a minute, who is the moron here?? The guy walked up to a hawks nest and provoked it. He got attacked because the mother was trying to protect her babies.

      I think Michael, so called ‘victim’ is a moron. You sir, are a close second.

      • john

        I agree w/you Brook….Mark is a moron

    • Jam

      Animals don’t just go attacking humans for no reason. Either the guy was too close to the nest, or he did something to provoke this bird. I have been near many nests and have never been attacked because I was at a respectable distance. Maybe you should be more observant or learn something about animals.

  • Steve C

    Why couldn’t they move the nest, with the chicks, into a safe wooded area and then release the mother hawk at the new nest site. Then she could find them and take care them herself. It seems so simple and the rpoper thing to do. And yes, if the guy that was attacked was interferring with the hawks in any way, even for a picture, he should have been forced to pay for the relocation efforts.

    • S.

      Hawks defend a territory while they are breeding, so moving the nest to a wooded area, unless there was one nearby, may have been impossible. The parent hawks would probably not be willing to move outside their territory, even if the nest was moved into an area nearby that didn’t have other Red-tailed Hawks. Further, the parent hawks would not have known/understood that the nest was moved and, as Nik said, the babies would most likely have to be removed and relocated if they were to survive. Raptors aren’t exactly that smart to understand that the nest has moved AND it is still their own nest.

    • Nik

      Moving the nest with the chicks to the wild may cause the mother hawk to abandon them and they would die.

      • Steve C

        If they were able to move the chicks to a new nest with surrogate hawks, they certainly could have tried to relocate the chicks to an area where they could release the mother hawk safely. If the mother didn’t find or go back to take care of the chicks, gather them up again and then bring them to the preserve. This seems to me to be a much better solution for the hawk and her chicks and less costly.

  • Karen

    Reread the article again, Mark, then read your comment and ask yourself s.l.o.w.l.y, who the moron is, if this is a University, don’t you think there’s a lot of people around, or do you really think only one person is in the area at all times, if the bird is a threat to “people” then why was only one person attacked, it’s obvious that he asked for it, and no the Hawk and her babies should not have to pay because this man can’t keep his nosy self out of her business. That’s what people are complaining about. moron!

    • Lisa

      And to you Karen he did not ask for it… How so many people are out to say horrible things when someone gets hurt and accusing him of disturbing the nest? . All we know is someone else could have bother the nest and then he walked by. I can image the fear of two hawks attacking me. He was bleeding so bad and thought he lost an eye.

      • Karen

        And to you Lisa, I stand by my post, again many people are around a University, but only one was attacked, just one. Yeah he’s innocent and the hawk had it out for him, keep telling yourself that. lol Here’s your moron Mark.

      • Bill

        Both Mark and Lisa are obvious morons. Hawks are of no threat to people unless the people are being morons. It’s hard enough to get raptors to nest in urban areas and this is a total step backwards. I also can’t really imagine anyone being that terrified of a hawk attack… Lisa, you are at least 100 times the size of the hawk, what else are you afraid of?

  • Noah

    Mike Doherty is a liar! Doherty provoked the hawks and deserved his injuries. His lies and stupidity disrupted the lives of animals he had no business agitating.

    A special circle of hell is reserved where this jerk will spend an eternity having his eyes plucked out by hawks, just to have them grow back so he can watch them get plucked out again.

    • Lisa

      Noah You know nothing about Michael Doherty to call him a liar. He is a good friend and is telling the truth. No person deserves injuries.

      • Dyanne Marie DellaPasqua

        I’m sorry that your friend was injured, but he is indeed lying. What motivation do I have for saying otherwise? His ignorant remarks caused irreparable damage, even if this was not his intent. His wounds will heal.

  • Ed

    Then they are going to place him on your ark Noah, so we can sink the f’g thing with you and him on it……lmao.

  • rita

    Katie V was the first person to meet this mama bird when she was trying to write poetry — back when mama was guarding the eggs. The big mama just squawked her away, knowing what a sweetie Katie is …. Katie drew mama’s portrait in her poetry journal. How cool is that.

  • Destiny

    They could have relocated her and the chicks somewhere else. We humans are so destructive and clueless, but yet we think we know so much. Stop messing with nature, that’s GOD’s job.

    • S.

      There would have been no way to relocate the nest and chicks and still have the hawk parents understand that it was their nest that had been moved. I study birds for a living and their brains just don’t work that way. The chicks would have had to have been moved to foster nests anyway because the original parents would never go to the moved nest and recognize it as their own.

    • Steve C

      There were 2 hawks living in Boston on the building across from where I work and raised 3 chicks. They never bothered anyone that I ever heard of and were quiet popular. On several occasion they went after prey very close to people on sidewalks and in the small parks, never bothering the people. As a matter of fact they helped keep balance and helped take care of the overabundance of squirrels and pigeons. Unfortunately, the mother hawk flew into the side of a truck and killed, but I believe by that time the hawks were older and large enough to leave the nest on their own. They moved on along with the male hawk and never bothered anyone.

  • Lisa

    This is just so wrong? The hawk was only protecting her young. Why couldn’t there have been another solution than separating them? It’s an outrage!

  • CRC

    “They say by then, she will likely have forgotten about her young.”

    Finally, we’ve taken the next step in science: reading the minds of animals!
    Boy we’ve taken a big step over the last day in this area.

  • Russell

    Thry should have relocated the moron that provoked the mother hawk.

  • Jack in Canada

    Pretty stupid move separating the babies from the mother. I live in Calgary Alberta Canada and every year there is a warning posted on one of the golf courses I play advising golfers to beware of attacking mother Hawks.
    We don’t take the babies away from it’s mother, we don’t call the Tac Team, RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for the uninformed) FBI or CIA.
    We just handle it by watching out forthe mother. It’s only a bird not a terrorist.
    I wonder how many of you will attend the funeral of the babies?

  • shedan

    I would trust Tufts University to know birds. We found a red tailed hawk injured on a highway years ago and the only place that could take it was Tufts. The hawk remained there for a month until it was well enough to be released – they let us pick it up and release it in the backyard.

  • sabster

    I think this is a disgusting story: how DARE they separate this mother bird from her chicks?! It is simply outrageous. Only humans could be so callous, egocentric and meddling. Not to mention dismissive and contemptuous of mother/offspring bond.
    It’s not enough that we take away its natural environment, but heaven forbid that a wild creature try to come back and live among us, and fight for ITS survival; well that just has to be quashed. Disgusting.
    It sounds like that meddling idiot got what he deserved if he in fact was bothering the nest area. Why aren’t more people outraged by this story?????? Tufts should be ashamed!

  • Torok

    I COMPLETELY agree with this post. There is no reason we should be separating those poor chicks from their mother. The mother/offspring bond among birds of prey should never be compromised. In this regard, I am also outraged with this story. Clearly, the best choice would have been to euthanize the mother AND the babies, thus preserving their beautiful bond for the afterlife with God the Father. Moreover, roasted Red-Tailed hawk is delicious. Tufts should be grossly ashamed for not providing death and hawk snacks.

  • seriously

    There is not a single reason for a hawk to attack unless it is provoked. there are alot of strong points to back up the provoked theory. He is one individule out of how many at the college. thousands of people walking by every day and he gets attacked for no reason…bull $^*#. bet he would of attacked if some one tryed to get close to his home and provoked him. It is basic animal instinct. Like to see himbe seperated from his family because of his right to protect.

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