Hatchlings taken from tree after hawk attacks

2:12 PM, Apr 4, 2011   |    comments
Two chirping baby hawks after their removal from their nest in the Forest Creek subdivision in Melbourne on Sunday.
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MELBOURNE, Florida (Florida Today) - Talons bared, the female red-shouldered hawk swooped at Mark Teppert again and again, slicing open bloody gashes on his head, hand and forearm. 

But in the end, her valiant attempts to defend her nest failed.

Teppert successfully climbed an oak tree Sunday afternoon and carefully lifted two fuzzy hawk hatchlings from their stick-and-mud home, placed them in a black drawstring bag, and lowered them to the ground using a rope.

Photo Gallery: Hawk nest removal
More pictures: Feisty hawks keep human neighbors indoors

Officials hope the nest-raiding operation will deter the chicks' aggressive parents from dive-bombing residents of a cul-de-sac in the gated Forest Creek subdivision. These brazen hawks drew the attention of CNN and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The roosting hawks attacked the tree's owner, retired Army Brig. Gen. Dudley Gordon, three times since March 13, lacerating his scalp twice. Other neighbors also have been struck.

Previous Story: Attacking hawks keep family indoors

The cheeping chicks were taken to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, where they will be fed and raised by humans using bird puppets, said Shannon Harmony, a licensed falconer.

The baby birds probably hatched Friday, Harmony estimated.

Teppert, who owns MT's Lawn & Tree Service, declined an offer to wear a Carhartt jacket to ward off hawk claws. Instead, he donned a baseball cap for protection -- and he returned from the oak with blood running from his temple past his ear to his chin.

"Oh, she didn't hit me that hard. That didn't even hurt," Teppert said.

Saturday, one of the hawks
dive-bombed 7-year-old Isabella Camerlingo while she bicycled, said her father, Carmine. The raptor struck her head from behind, he said, leaving her in hysterics.

"It was like a lion bit me," Isabella recalled.

After the hatchlings were taken into custody, Gordon said he was relieved.

"I'm glad that we're not going to have to look over our shoulder when we go out in our yard," he said.

The hawk nest and eggshells were taken to Brevard Zoo, said James Dean, a wildlife trapper.

Rick Neale, Florida Today

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