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Charlie the hawk is 31
Special birthday celebration held for a WSU icon
Friday, Mar. 2, 2012
By Matt Haugen, WSU News
Video by Matt Haugen, WSU News
PULLMAN, Wash. - Decorations, a cake and the Washington State University Raptor Club greeted one of its oldest members at a special birthday celebration Thursday night. Charlie, at 31 years old, was the life of the party, keeping a close eye on his friends in the room at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
Did we mention Charlie is a bird? A red-tailed hawk, to be specific.
What makes Charlie special is that he’s probably the oldest red-tailed hawk to ever live. A WSU News story from 2011 reports: The oldest recorded red-tailed hawk died at 30.8 years last February in Michigan, according to "Longevity Records of North American Birds,” compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. That would make Charlie unofficially the oldest red-tailed hawk alive.
Brought to WSU in 1981, the injured, barely three month old bird was nursed to health. But because of an injured wing, he had to stay in captivity in order to survive. Charlie has become a mascot of sorts for students of the vet college - hence the birthday party.
A small conference room was decorated with streamers, a banner and pictures of the hawk, but no balloons, said Raptor Club Program Coordinator Sarah Monzel.
Bird and balloons don’t mix well, she said: "Popping and that sort of stuff. So we just went with some simple little designs that would make the room look a little bit nicer but not scare Charlie.”
As the party continued, other Raptor Club members brought Charlie’s acquaintances, including a falcon and an owl, to join in the festivities.
WSU Junior Gwen Graf said Charlie is great to work with.
"I’ve worked with Charlie for over a year now and I was at his birthday party last year, so it’s really nice to be at it again.” Since he’s a record elder now, "we’re having a bigger deal this year so we’re doing a lot more decorations; it’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Following a hearty rendition of "Happy Birthday,” Charlie continued to watch over the crowd from his perch on a student’s arm.
"It means a lot to be able to know that the care we have given him has helped him survive for so long,” said Monzel. "What we’re doing is really good and we’re just really proud to have this club.”
For a related story about Charlie, click here.
Attention producers/editors: B-roll and soundbites are available for media use. View download information HERE
Sarah Monzel, WSU Raptor Club Program Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Haugen, WSU News, 509-335-0487, email@example.com