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Parks and Rec News

Posted on: July 17, 2020

Great Black Hawk Sculpture Unveiled at Deering Oaks

South American Black Hawk at Deering Oaks Park, Portland, ME

In late 2018/early 2019, Deering Oaks hosted a unique visitor, a juvenile Great Black Hawk native to Central & South America.  Recognized as the “Craziest Vagrant of 2019” by the American Birding Association, seeing the GBLH in the park was akin “to seeing a zebra at Baxter State Park”, according to a Maine Audubon staff naturalist. Huge crowds were drawn to the park to witness this extraordinary visitor.

Enduring a few light snowstorms, the hawk ultimately succumbed to frostbite during a sleet storm in January 2019. Despite heroic rehab efforts by Avian Haven, the irreversible frostbite damage necessitated euthanizing the hawk. 

Soon after, a collaborative effort was undertaken to honor this unexpected visit by commissioning an authentic, life-size bronze sculpture in an area of Deering Oaks where it was often seen.  Created by award-winning Maine wildlife sculptor, David Smus, the proposed sculpture received unanimous approval by Portland’s Historic Preservation Board, the Portland Public Art Committee, the Parks Commission and Portland City Council.  It has been gifted by the Friends of Deering Oaks to the City of Portland’s Public Art Collection.

Anne Pringle, President of the Friends of Deering Oaks, which raised the necessary funds, said “We are so grateful to all the donors from Maine and across the country who contributed to this unique effort. We’re especially grateful for substantial gifts from Norway Savings Bank and our premier donor, MC Construction Company, Inc.  

David Smus, bronze wildlife sculptor expressed that:  "Support for this project from individuals, businesses and organizations locally and nationwide is a testament to the value they put on this beautiful green space to all of life as a whole."

Julia Kirby of the Portland Public Art Committee, said: “The Committee is happy to welcome the sculpture as part of the City of Portland’s collection of permanent public art work and applauds the effort by many stakeholders who worked collaboratively to bring David Smus’ sculpture of the Hawk to Deering Oaks.” 

Portland Mayor Kate Snyder noted that this project was yet another successful collaboration between the City of Portland and the Friends of Deering Oaks, partners for over 22 years in improving the park in many ways.

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