People gathered Sunday to plant a sugar maple tree to honor Red, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s educational red-tailed hawk who was euthanized in January. Red’s ashes were added to the tree as part of the memorial. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
People gathered Sunday to plant a sugar maple tree to honor Red, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s educational red-tailed hawk who was euthanized in January. Red’s ashes were added to the tree as part of the memorial. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

Saying goodbye to Red the hawk

Published 10:56am Monday, April 22, 2013

Nature Center holds ceremony for hawk

Nature’s celebrity at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center received the send-off he deserved Sunday.

Nature Center employee  Jill DeMoss, blue coat, spreads ashes of  Red during a tree planting ceremony.
Nature Center employee
Jill DeMoss, blue coat, spreads ashes of
Red during a tree planting ceremony.

A small dedication ceremony was held for Red, the Nature Center’s red-tailed hawk that was humanely euthanized this past January.

Those in attendance spread the educational hawk’s ashes in a hole for the tree before Larry Dolphin, executive director of the Nature Center, planted the tree.

The tribute, part of Earth Day, was fitting for an animal that helped bridge the gap between nature and humanity for visitors of all ages.

“I hope Red will fly free and his call will join all the other red-tailed hawks in the sky,” said Julie Champlin, who worked the most with Red during his time at the Nature Center. “I know he’ll be missed by everybody here. I’m so pleased to see you all here honoring him.”

Out of all the educational animals at the Nature Center, Red was probably the most well known, having lived there for more than 30 years.

“Red was the ambassador for the Nature Center, more than any other animal we’ve ever had,” Dolphin said.

 

The tree was a donation by The Friends of Nature Center, but the cremation of Red was a donation from Dr. Mike and Jane Williams at the Austin’s Veterinary Medical Hospital.

“Mike took care of Red’s vaccination needs and we would often go to him for an early assessment,” Champlin said.

It was this kind of broad demonstration of support and respect for Red that made the day special.

“I’m truly honored that so many felt Red was important enough to celebrate Red’s life,” Champlin said.

Jill DeMoss, another employee of the Nature Center, was also on hand to say goodbye to the hawk. She had a major hand in helping care for Red by feeding and cleaning his enclosure.

“Working at the Nature Center I understand it’s just the cycle of life, but it’s still sad,” she said. “I saw him more as a nature companion.

“It’s a wonderful thing for the community to show this kind of respect,” DeMoss added. “It gives me pride knowing that the community would respond like this.”

Part of Red’s ashes were saved and will be on display with pictures and memorial inside the Nature Center’s visitor center.

It’s clear the memory of Red will continue to live on.


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