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Bird Lovers Say Violet The Hawk is 'Doing Well' After Treatment

By Sonja Sharp | December 26, 2011 5:30pm

WEST VILLAGE — Beloved raptor matriarch Violet the Hawk is doing well Monday after she was captured in Washington Square park over the weekend and taken in for treatment of a chronic infection that has left her right leg useless and dangling from her body, wildlife rehabilitators said.

"She's doing well, eating fine," said wildlife rehabilitator Cathy Horvath, 52, who is caring for the injured bird at the non-profit Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR) on Long Island. "She's on pain medication and antibiotics."

The hawk, whose nest-building activities made her briefly famous this spring as the star of nytnestcam, a live streaming video shot outside New York University's president's office, was spotted throughout the fall dragging the necrotic limb in the East Village.

"It's nasty—it's really bad," said Horvath of the injury. "It's just so hideous to watch before your very eyes, and you can't get your hands on her." 

The Horvaths said they spent five hours in and around Washington Square Park on Saturday waiting to capture Violet for treatment. On Monday afternoon, she was scheduled to undergo x-rays and an examination to determine what can be done for her injured apendage and whether she can be released into the wild when she recovers. 

Manhattanites, meanwhile, were already flocking to Facebook and Twitter to express their relief at the rescue, which was reported on the New York Times City Room Blog Saturday

"Violet, the moma hawk that gave birth at NYU last yr, was captured for medical treatment of a swollen leg. So relieved she's safe," Manhattan psychologist Irene Kaminsky wrote on Twitter

Horvath and her husband first noticed the injury in May, when Violet was basking in the glow of motherhood with newly-hatched baby Pip. At that time, Horvath said the infection—probably the result of a squirrel or rat bite—was still minor. But swelling from the site pushed a monitoring band far up her leg, exacerbating the injury. 

"We were confident when the babies were a couple of days old we could have gotten her and take the band off, and she would have been normal," Horvath said. "It was just a hideous condition, and she needed to be help."

The Horvaths volunteered to treat the bird while she was still nesting, but authorities demurred, City Room reported. Meanwhile, the pair, who have spent decades caring for injured wildlife, received periodic updates from concerned Manhattanites about the raptor. Blogger Roger_Paw guided the Horvaths through their dramatic Saturday evening rescue, such was his devotion to the bird.

By December, video footage captured by Greenwich Village bird-lovers showed a grim new reality: Violet's right leg had "pretty much festered off", and will now almost certainly require amputation. She has also developed a secondary infection called bumblefoot in her left leg after months of overuse compensating for the useless right side.

Horvath said it's unclear whether she will ever return to the wild. 

"She just looks so tired and sad," Horvath said. "But she’s safe and warm here, and we'll do whatever we need to do."

Want to help Violet the Hawk and other injured New York wildlife like her? You can donate to WINORR by sending a check to 202 North Wyoming Ave, Massapequa, NY, 11758.