EL PASO, Texas - Students and faculty at New Mexico State University are on alert. Signs have been posted, urging them to steer clear of one particular place on campus to avoid being attacked.
"(I was at the) wrong place at the wrong time," said Neva Williams.
The NMSU lifeguard was headed to the campus pool with her boyfriend.
"And just out of nowhere, I got hit in the back of the head," she said.
The attack left a slash on her face -- nearly touching her left eye and stretching across the bridge of her nose.
"It was less than a second," said Williams. "I was hit so hard in the back of the head I was jolted forward and had to take a couple steps so I wouldn't fall over."
ABC-7 spotted the feathery assailant out in the open on the NMSU campus.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I didn't think it could be a bird," Williams said.
A hawk, to be exact. To be more precise -- a hawk defending its young. The pair of Swainson's Hawks have built their nest in a tree around Rentfrow Gymnasium.
Since Williams was attacked, signs have been posted on campus, warning people to steer clear of the nesting grounds.
"Hawks are defensive. They do have a young one," said Doña Ana Community College biology professor Jonathan Davis. He happened to be visiting NMSU to glimpse the birds while ABC-7 was on the campus.
"A hawk can land on your head and peck you or give you a shot with its claws," said Davis. "They're obviously not trying to hunt people, but if they feel threatened they will defend their young."
ABC-7 spotted a pair of hawks perched on a fence -- warily watching passersby.
"I'm glad they came back," Davis said, explaining he had last seen the hawks make a nest on the campus last spring."This is a huge campus. A lot of space, a lot of wildlife."
Meanwhile, others, like Williams, are likely not as thrilled.
"I'll just make sure I know what's going on around me so I can anticipate something," she said.
Officials in the NMSU Fishery and Wildlife Sciences Department said in a statement they expect the hawks to leave the nest in the next two to three weeks.