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Violet the Hawk's Mourners Plan Washington Square Park Memorial

By Andrea Swalec | January 5, 2012 6:45am

MANHATTAN —  A pair of wildlife rehabilitators who were the last to treat Violet the Hawk, the sick raptor who once called Washington Square Park home, say they are planning to build a memorial in the park that will "capture her spirit."

Cathy and Robert Horvath of the Long Island nonprofit Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, which cared for Violet before she died of an apparent heart attack on Dec. 29, are in the early stages of a plan to build a monument to the bird with the help of a metal artist.

"We want something that will memorialize Violet and her spirit," Cathy Horvath told DNAinfo.com Tuesday afternoon. "She was an amazing, strong bird."

Horvath said she has asked the Parks Department for permission to place a memorial in the northwest quadrant of the park, under the large tree where the Horvaths captured Violet on Christmas Eve in a bid to mend her broken and infected right leg.

Violet the Hawk died Dec. 29, 2011.
Violet the Hawk died Dec. 29, 2011.
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Cathy Horvath

A spokesman for the agency said he had no knowledge of the request and that it was likely being processed.

Horvath said she has been in talks with a Long Island-based welder who is mulling a sculpture of unknown size that is "hawk-like," even if it is not a realistic representation of a hawk, she said. She did not name the welder.

The Horvaths have been collecting funds from Violet fans, including 12 envelopes they received Tuesday alone, that they plan to use to create the memorial. She said she didn't immediately have the amount received so far available.

"We're going to use that money so that everyone can have a part in the memorial," Horvath said.

Violet entered the public eye in April 2011 when The New York Times' City Room blog began Hawk Cam, a live web camera of the bird's nest near the office of NYU's president.

"She was a very calm bird — very accepting of being with us," Horvath said.

Horvath also said Tuesday that she and her husband have decided not to have a necropsy conducted on Violet to determine her cause of death.

"There's no point to it. We do know why she passed. She was infected for all those months and sick for almost a year, so we decided not to do that," she said.

The infection in Violet's right leg, which dragged behind her body, was likely the result of an animal bite, causing swelling that pushed a monitoring band up her leg, ultimately worsening her condition. 

Horvath said Violet pushed through the pain of her injury for the sake of her hatchling, Pip.

"She was a survivor mother and she had to carry on. I think her body was just done," she said.

"She was exhausted. You could just see it in her eyes," she added.