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Lakers keep eyes on skies as hawk inspires legend

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Hawk

No one can say for sure what drew him to Mercyhurst University, or why he’s decided to make his home alongside us, but one thing’s for sure: the Mercyhurst Hawk’s presence on campus can’t be missed.

You may have seen him perched high in a tree in the Grotto or climbing a thermal updraft above Tullio Field. Since taking up roost here, the Mercyhurst Hawk has become one of the campus’ most elusive and legendary residents.

“I see it all the time,” said one hawk admirer, an anonymous Laker who’s become the voice of the hawk on Twitter (@MercyhurstHawk). “It’s always flying over campus. I think it’s because it’s comfortable with all the people, it likes the environment.”

Sightings of the bird—most likely a red-tailed hawk, one of the most common hawks in North America—date back at least a year, according to his Twitter account. For the past few months, however, he’s been seen with increasingly regularity around O’Neil Tower, coinciding with President Michael T. Victor’s arrival at Mercyhurst, which has led some to speculate whether President Victor and the hawk are connected, a la Dumbledore and his phoenix, Fawkes.

While it’s true this isn’t the first time a hawk has achieved celebrity—Saint Vincent College in nearby Latrobe, Pa., is also home to a campus hawk, and a hawk named “Pale Male” famously resides atop a NYC apartment building—the timing is uncanny.

Not to mention the cultural and spiritual significance of the hawk for a lot of cultures, especially many Native American tribes.

A bird of effortless flight and keen eyesight, the hawk symbolizes clear vision, intensity and strong leadership. The hawk views situations from a higher perspective, often noticing details others miss, and when the time is right, the hawk can take the lead with confidence—all ideal qualities in a university president. So it really makes you think…

Is the hawk, as his Twitter account suggests, a personable bird who enjoys hanging out with students, gobbling up rodents and cracking a joke every now and then?

Or is he also something more? A protector and reminder of Laker persistence and strength, a spirit animal and emblem of leadership as President Victor guides Mercyhurst into a new era?

Either way, it’s hard not to feel inspired when we see the hawk soaring overhead. And now, as our campus eagerly awaits the arrival of Hurst Day, a new tradition certain to rekindle the spirit of Laker pride, friendship and good will, we have to wonder: will the hawk be there, amid all the outdoor revelry, to celebrate the day with us?

Something is certainly in the air at Mercyhurst, fellow Lakers. Keep your eyes on the skies.