From the Hawks’ Nest to Print

SJU Press publishes “Crimson and Gray: The Red-Tailed Hawks of Saint Joseph’s University”

Monday, March 2, 2015

by Sarah Panetta ’16

The journey of the two nesting red-tailed hawks that have soared their way into the hearts of the Saint Joseph’s University community and beyond is now documented in “Crimson and Gray: The Red-Tailed Hawks of Saint Joseph’s University,” a book published by SJU Press.

The Hawk Cam that followed the raptor pair, Crimson (female) and Gray (male), clocked over 44,000 visitors last spring through July, when the nesting hawks were observed in a tall pine on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus. While on Hawk Hill, Crimson and Gray brought forth two offspring—Iggy and Swoop.

“With its splendid photography and topical essays, this book captures the fascination and drama that these red-tailed hawks and their progeny brought to Hawk Hill and its environs,” says President C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. ’72, who contributed a poem and an essay to the book. The fact that the red-tailed hawk is the university's treasured mascot makes the book even more special.”

Professor of Biology Michael McCann, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and editor of “Crimson and Gray,” says that the Hawk Cam provided an opportunity to create the book. McCann calls “Crimson and Gray” a Saint Joseph’s community effort that allows a glimpse into the “natural world in our own backyard.”

“Chronicling Crimson and Gray wasn’t anyone’s job, and that speaks to the sense of excitement and collegiality these hawks created at Saint Joseph’s,” says McCann.

The book includes seven chapters contributed by Saint Joseph’s faculty and administrators, as well as John Blakeman, an Ohio-based hawk expert who served as an advisor to the Hawk Cam project. Topics range from the biology of red-tailed hawks to the intersection of Ignatian spirituality and the natural world, as well as a chapter on one of the most famous mascots in college sports — the Saint Joseph’s Hawk.

Books will be sold for $25 at various on-campus events, and are available to the general public through the Saint Joseph’s University Press website. A book signing and presentation in the Post Learning Commons and Francis A. Drexel Library will be held near the end of March.

All proceeds from the book sales will go toward improving the habitat for birds on Saint Joseph’s campus.

Table of Contents and Contributors:

  1. Foreword: Julie McDonald, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy.
  2. An Introduction to Our Story: Saint Joseph’s University President C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. ’72.
  3. Reflections on Ignatian Spirituality and Nature: Father Gillespie.
  4. Red-Tailed Hawk Biology and Behavior: John Blakeman, an Ohio-based licensed hawk bander, master falconer and hawk rehabilitator, serves as a resource to the Franklin Institute and Saint Joseph’s University.
  5. From Eradication to Celebration: America’s Changing Attitudes about Birds of Prey: Jeffrey Hyson, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of American Studies program.
  6. Hawks Bring a Touch of Wilderness to Saint Joseph’s University: Karen Snetselaar, Ph.D., professor of biology.
  7. Hawk and Squirrel: On Symbols in Nature Writing: Melissa Goldthwaite, Ph.D., professor of English.
  8. The Other Hawks at Saint Joseph’s University: Marie Wozniak, associate athletic director for communications.
  9. Afterword: Michael McCann, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The stunning photography of “Crimson and Gray” highlights the hawks’ daily activity; from Crimson’s outstretched wings against a clear blue sky, to a close-up of Iggy that illuminates the young raptor’s features. Most of the photos were captured by Christopher Dixon, archival research librarian at Saint Joseph’s. Dennis Weeks, M.F.A., associate professor of art, contributed photo editing.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications, 610-660-3240,

Book Contact
Carmen Croce, Director, Saint Joseph’s University Press, 610-660-3402,

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