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Mathews student conducting research project on birds of prey

It’s not every day someone is dive-bombed by a speeding red-tailed hawk.

The bird of prey, a common sight around Virginia with its recognizable broad wingspan and fierce gaze, has a grip strength of 250 pounds per square inch—enough to crush bones in the human hand.

Longwood student researcher Russell Reed, however, was eyewitness to a relatively rare attack on a research trip to Hull Springs Farm. Reed, a 2011 Mathews High School graduate, was at the 662-acre farm in Westmoreland County that is operated by Longwood to observe birds of prey for an ongoing research project. His friend was photographing the hawk’s nest, which was about 65 feet up in a pine tree.

From the hawk’s perspective, she got too close.

“I heard my friend yelling, then saw the red tail circle pretty close and dive at her, getting as close as five or six yards. She dropped her camera and ran,” said Reed, an anthropology major at Longwood. “Fortunately, the hawk didn&rsqu...

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