Around 4 p.m. Saturday, Robert and Cathy Horvath, rehabilitators from Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation on Long Island, went into the president's office at New York University to check on Violet and whether she could be reached from the window.
They determined that she could and should be captured and treated, but the Horvaths did not have all the necessary harnesses and safety equipment with them.
They will return within a few days -- the day has not yet been determined -- to do the job. Mr. Horvath said that the band has been stuck there for months and another day or two should not make a difference.
(More after the jump)
The thing stuck on Violet's leg: Is a government-issued metal wildlife band with (illegible) numbers on it, placed by a researcher. It needs to be removed with a pliers and screwdriver. Bands usually dangle around birds' ankles like bracelets, but somehow this band was forced up to about midway up the bird equivalent of the human shin, and it is constricting her blood flow. Mr. Horvath said that this is a very rare occurrence and he did not know how it could have happened.
Violet's condition: Violet's right leg is swollen to two or three times the size of her left. When she stands, she "knuckles," meaning that her toes curl under. "There could be permanent nerve damage already present that we can't reverse," Mr. Horvath said. "As far as pain, we don't think she's in pain anymore."
Mr. Horvath said that Violet has had the band stuck on her leg for months. He said that Lincoln Karim, the wildlife videographer who maintainsPaleMale.com, sent him a photo in December or January of a bird with a band stuck on its leg, looking to find out if it could be treated. Mr. Horvath said he told Mr. Karim at the time that the hawk, which was not nesting, could probably not be trapped.
That hawk turned out be Violet, Mr. Horvath said. He did not realize it was the same bird until he was sent photos of her on Friday. (Mr. Karim did not immediately respond to an e-mail.)
Window access: The window that looks out on the nest opens out, not up and down, and cannot be opened without knocking the nest off. But the adjacent window, about six feet away, shares the same ledge and can be opened safely.
The action plan: Mr. Horvath said he would lean partly out the adjacent window, wearing a harness, and try to net Violet. He would bring her into the room, and while he held her, his wife would pry off the band.
They would clean her wound, treat it topically with antibiotic cream and orally with an antibiotic pill, and put her back on the ledge. The entire operation, if it goes smoothly, would take no than five minutes.
The prognosis: Even if Violet can be captured without harm to her or her brood, there are no guarantees regarding her leg. "We don't know what's the condition of flesh or bone or infection underneath the band," Mr. Horvath said.
Even if her leg appears unsalvageable, the Horvaths would put her back on the nest so that she could continue to help rear her young. The father hawk, Bobby, can take over feeding the eyasses if she is unable to manage it. Perhaps after the eyasses have fledged, Violet could be recaptured and taken in for longer treatment. A one-legged hawk cannot survive in the wild.
"If this was a bird that didn't have babies, we'd be taking this bird to our house and treating it for weeks," Mr. Horvath said. "We don't have that luxury now."
John Beckman, a spokesman for the university, said that from N.Y.U.'s standpoint, "We've made some positive progress in thinking through how to respond to an unfortunate development." He added, "We're concerned about the birds and we hope that we have a way forward that will help the mother bird, prevent any harm from coming to the baby and prevent any harm from coming to humans who are trying to help the bird."
Overall, Cathy Horvath said, she and her husband were hopeful. ""We never give up," Ms. Horvath said.