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The NYU Hawk Camera Is Back Up and Ready for Eggs to Hatch

 Hawk-watchers are grateful to NYU's new president for bringing back the ability to watch the birds.
Hawk-watchers are grateful to NYU's new president for bringing back the ability to watch the birds.
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NYU Hawk Cam

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Hawk-lovers, rejoice: The NYU Hawk Cam is back.

The camera, trained on a pair of red-tailed hawks that nest outside a window of the university president's office in Bobst Library, overlooking Washington Square Park, first launched in 2011, but was out of commission for the past few years.

The reason for the blackout was simple: efforts to protect the birds from being scared by movement in the office — at first by putting up curtains and books — culminated in the placement of one-way film over the window which made it impossible to shoot video through from the inside.

However, NYU's new president, Andrew Hamilton, knew of the birds' fan following and authorized the installation of a camera at the upper corner of the window ledge on the outside of the building, according to school spokesman John Beckman.

A small group of devoted hawk watchers are so grateful to Hamilton, they named one of last year's fledglings Andy "in anticipation," said Jessica Schein, who has been following the NYU hawks for seven years.

"Over seven years, a core group of us has been talking and giving news and reporting on it and just having fun," Schein said. "[Hamilton] really did a great job of getting cameras and all that stuff."

The livestream is accompanied by a chat box where Schein and her fellow hawk-watchers carry on conversation while watching the birds.

The nest currently holds three eggs, which can be seen every once in a while when the adult hawk gets up to turn them.

Schein said she and her fellow hawk-watchers were expecting the first egg to hatch "between April 11 and the week after" but now aren't sure that timeline will hold.

"The problem is this year because of the crazy weather, [the mother hawk] wasn't doing what she would normally do," Schein said. "Our hawk expert has been ill this year, unfortunately — the worst thing imaginable."

"Everybody is eagerly anticipating some hawk births," Beckman agreed. 

The last time the Hawk Cam was in operation, in 2014, the first egg hatched April 17, Beckman recalled. Last year there were three eggs, but only one hatched.

A note below the livestream warns that "because the NYU Hawk Cam is broadcasting in real time, it's possible that viewers will potentially witness an upsetting event in the nest involving the perceived well-being of the hawks."

"Viewers must decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with viewing the raw, unfettered access to nature the Hawk Cam provides," the note reads.

Also, despite the hawk watchers' expressing their appreciation for Hamilton by naming one of last year's fledglings after him, the message accompanying the livestream, ostensibly from Hamilton, makes a point of noting that "given the birds’ beauty and the opportunity accorded by the Hawk Cam to observe them intimately as they raise their nestlings, there may be a tendency to project human traits on these raptors, including giving them names."

"NYU does not officially endorse anthropomorphizing the adult hawks or their eyasses and will not seek to name them," the note reads.

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