Remembering SU-Sue and Otto, Syracuse University’s Resident Hawk Pair
Sadly, Syracuse University's resident red-tailed hawks, SU-Sue and Otto, have died. As a species that mate for life, SU-Sue and Otto called the Syracuse University campus home since 2012. While their year-round hunting territory also covered the adjacent campus of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), the nearby Oakwood and Morningside cemeteries, Thornden Park and neighborhoods close to the University, it was on the SU campus where they built their nest each spring and raised their young.
This is a tragic loss for the pair's admirers at Syracuse University, in the local community and around the world who have followed them and their 28 progeny since they began nesting at Syracuse University, via the Karel and Cindy Sedlacek vimeo livestream since 2016, via the SU Hawk Nest Cam since 2017, and on the Facebook pages Syracuse Hawk Chatters and Red-Tailed Hawk Tales. The Syracuse University red-tailed hawk nest cam was funded through a generous donation from alumna Anne Marie Higgins in loving memory of her husband, the Honorable Thomas W. Higgins, Jr., who died in 2009 after a brief battle with leukemia. Anne Marie and Thomas (aka "Tim") were avid bird watchers, and hawks were their favorite raptor.
Perhaps fitting for two hawks that spent most of their lives together, SU-Sue and Otto passed away within a week of one another. On Friday, January 13, around 5:00 p.m., SU-Sue was found on the ground near Huntington Beard Crouse Hall. She received emergency treatment for symptoms of head trauma, but unfortunately, she did not survive. When a hawk dies, its mate typically finds a new companion, and Higgins thought this might be the case for Otto. But on January 19, she received a report that another deceased hawk was discovered in Oakwood cemetery. She arrived and confirmed it was Otto.
Higgins transported SU-Sue and Otto’s bodies to Cornell University Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center in Ithaca, NY, for necropsy and testing. While some results are pending, preliminary results were confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory that SU-Sue and Otto were positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. While Higgins says we will never know exactly how SU-Sue and Otto acquired their infections, they either ingested infected prey or came into contact with the mucous, saliva, or feces of infected birds or mammals. Any additional information from the pending results will be updated when available.
Since 2017, viewers from around the world have tuned into the 24/7 live feed of SU-Sue and Otto’s nest cam hosted on the College of Arts and Sciences’ website. The feed has given people a “bird’s eye view” of the hawk family’s adventures, from building each year’s nest to raising the hatchlings until they fledged (when juvenile hawks’ wing feathers are developed enough for flight).
It's uncertain at this time whether any of their numerous offspring or other raptors will choose to nest on the Syracuse University campus, but SU-Sue and Otto will always be remembered for bringing the joy of discovery to those witnessing the lives of a real hawk family through the nest cam. For updates or to share your own personal stories about SU-Sue and Otto, visit the Red-Tailed Hawk Tales page on Facebook.
Sadly, Syracuse University's resident female red-tailed hawk SU-Sue has died. Several people reported to Syracuse University's Department of Public Safety that a hawk was on the ground near Huntington Beard Crouse Hall on Friday, January 13 around 5:00 p.m. Soon thereafter, SU-Sue was rescued by Anne Marie Higgins with the help of a public safety officer and taken to Cindy Page, a wildlife rehabilitator. Sue received emergency treatment for symptoms of head trauma, but unfortunately, she did not survive.
No one witnessed Sue's injury that we know of and if anyone has information, please report it to Public Safety at 315.443.2224.
This is a tragic loss for Sue’s mate, Otto, and the pair's admirers at Syracuse University, in the local community and around the world who have followed them and their 28 progeny since they began nesting at Syracuse University in 2012, via the SU Hawk Nest Cam since 2017, and on the Facebook page Red-Tailed Hawk Tales.
Red-tailed hawks mate for life and when one dies, the surviving hawk usually finds another mate. We hope in time that Otto will find a new mate and they both will continue to thrive.
July 1, 2022
The 2022 hawk season proved to be unlike any other. After re-locating to Bowne Hall, requiring yet another camera install, SU-Sue laid four eggs, unprecedented in SU-Sue and Otto’s previous ten nesting seasons on Lyman Hall.
The joys of watching four chicks hatch, grow and thrive with three chicks successfully fledging, were sadly overshadowed by A22’s death in the nest from an infection of unknown origin. We were also saddened by D22’s diagnosis of a mouth abscess after, like A22, exhibiting signs of possible eye and mouth injuries requiring rescue post-fledge and treatment at the Janet Swanson Wildlife Hospital.
Updates about D22 will be posted here and on the Red-Tailed Hawk Tales Facebook page when available. We are thankful that Juveniles B and C can still be seen around the Syracuse University and nearby SUNY ESF campuses honing their flight and hunting skills with attentive parents providing prey. Soon they will move to Oakwood cemetery where they will spend the rest of the summer into early fall before they go off on their own.
June 23, 2022
Many nest cam followers have been asking recently about the health of the chicks, and so we wanted to provide this update.
The first hatched chick, A22, died in its nest on June 19. A22’s body was retrieved from the nest on June 21 and then taken to the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital in Ithaca, New York. Preliminary examination by the wildlife veterinarian suggested A22 died from an infection.
Earlier that month, A22 and its sibling D22 had exhibited signs of possible injuries from an unknown cause to their eyes and mouths. D22’s signs improved somewhat, but A22’s did not. D22 fledged the nest on June 20, was rescued the next day and then taken to the Swanson Wildlife Hospital. A mouth abscess was found upon examination. As of June 23, D22 is receiving treatment.
June 21, 2022
SU-Sue and Otto’s four hawk chicks have fledged and are now officially juvenile hawks. Read a helpful list of tips in case you spot the young hawks on the Syracuse University campus grounds.
March 11, 2022
SU-Sue and Otto have decided to nest on Bowne Hall for 2022 after calling Lyman Hall home for the previous 10 years. A new camera has been installed on nearby Link Hall where viewers can see a close-up image of the nest as well as observe SU-Sue and Otto as they fly around campus.
About the Syracuse University Red-Tailed Hawks
SU-Sue and Otto have been nesting at Syracuse University since 2012. Their year-round hunting territory covers Syracuse University and the adjacent campus of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), the nearby Oakwood and Morningside cemeteries, Thornden Park and neighborhoods close to the University. You can keep tabs on their adventures at Red-Tailed Hawk Tales on Facebook.
The Syracuse University red-tailed hawk nest cam was funded through a generous donation from Anne Marie Higgins in loving memory of her husband, the Honorable Thomas W. Higgins, Jr., who died on November 7, 2009, just 18 days after being diagnosed with leukemia. Anne Marie and Thomas (aka "Tim") were avid bird watchers, and hawks were their favorite raptor.
On March 20, 2017, the SU Red-Tailed Hawk Nest Cam was officially launched, featuring a continuous 24/7 LIVE online video and audio stream.
Find a selection of Nest Cam media coverage.