The great black hawk that fascinated Mainers when it first appeared in the state in 2018, then died last winter after a storm, has been mounted by a taxidermist and will soon be sent to the Maine State Museum.

The first public photos of the mount of the rare South American raptor, standing on a squirrel, were posted Wednesday on the MAINE Wildlife Facebook page by Gray hunter Christi Holmes, who visited taxidermist Tom Berube’s studio in Poland two weeks ago. Holmes went to pick up a mounted grouse, saw the great black hawk and immediately recognized the famous bird.

The great black hawk, the first ever seen in Maine, was initially spotted in Biddeford in August 2018. It was only the second time the species had been seen in the United States. It later took up residence in Deering Oaks park in Portland, and in January 2019, died at Avian Haven in Freedom after suffering frostbite on its legs and being taken to the wildlife rehabilitation center by concerned residents.

“He did an amazing job. The squirrel is a nice touch since the bird loved eating squirrels,” said Holmes, an avid hunter and Registered Maine Guide. “Like all taxidermy work, it lets the animal live on in a way, and many people will get to admire him up close when it goes to its home at the Maine State Museum.”

Berube, a taxidermist for 30 years who has done other bird mounts for the museum, said he conferred with the museum’s curators about how to present the bird in the display. Since it lived largely on squirrels that it hunted in Deering Oaks, Berube said it seemed appropriate to tell that story in the mount. Berube expects the hawk display to travel to the state museum in the next three weeks.

“It’s a jungle bird that lives in the Amazon and probably – no, it is – the rarest bird I will ever do in my life,” said Berube, who has mounted more than 2,000 birds. “It was an honor to be chosen to do this mount.”

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