photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK
12/31/04 -- Rare Owl in Central Park
A Boreal Owl, extremely rare for the area and never before seen in Central Park, was first sighted by birdwatcher Jim Demes during the Christmas Bird Count on December 19, 2004. It was perched in an evergreen just to the south of the entrance to the Tavern on the Green restaurant, a major tourist attraction.
He reported it as a Saw-whet Owl. [The Boreal and the Saw-whet are not dissimilar. They are both in the Aegolius family, though the Boreal is a bit bigger, and has a paler bill and some black outlining on its facial mask]. A bit later Peter Post, a highly accomplished birder, thought he'd go and photograph that little saw-whet. I can't quote here the expletive he emitted when he took a look at the owl and realized it was a Boreal. The Birders' Grapevine was activated, [Birders carry cell phones these days] and within minutes there were 25 people at the spot.
Since then the bird has moved to a Norway Spruce not far from that first location, but a little to the north [Birders' etiquette requires me to be vague about the exact location. People are protective of roosting owls. Daytime is their sleeping time, and they are vulnerable to disturbance. Being forced to fly in the daytime is highly dangerous to a small owl like a Boreal, which is only 10 inches tall.]
Ever since its discovery, the Boreal Owl has been attracting great crowds of visitors, for many of whom it is a Life Bird -- one they've never seen before. On December 20th, my first of many visits to this beautiful creature, I ran into Steve Quinn of the American Museum of Natural History. He is one of the best birders I know -- I often sign up for his Spring Migration bird walks -- and it was a Life Bird for him too! Needless to say it was for me too.
There is an article in this morning's Daily News about the owl, and it includes the same wonderful photograph by Lloyd Spitalnik you see to the left. You can probably find it on line, though I don't have a link yet.
MY NEW YEAR'S HOMILY
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! ENJOY NATURE IN ALL ITS VARIETY IN THE COMING YEAR: HAWKS, OF COURSE, BUT ALSO WARBLERS AND GRASSHOPPERS AND MICE AND MUSHROOMS AND LICHEN AND SPARROWS AND HORSESHOE CRABS AND DOGWOODS, CRANESBILL GERANIUMS AND LARGE-MOUTHED BASS, GARTER SNAKES AND UNDERWING MOTHS. SHARE THESE INTERESTS WITH AS MANY CHILDREN AS YOU CAN MUSTER. JOIN CONSERVATION EFFORTS. [Good grief, it's a sermon.] ANYHOW, HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL.
12/30/04 -- 12:45 P.M. LAST MESSAGE FROM THE BATTLEFRONT [I hope!]
FOR THE LAST FEW DAYS THERE HAS BEEN SOME SCAFFOLDING ON 927 FIFTH AVE. THIS HAS CAUSED A GREAT DEAL OF ANXIETY AND SUSPICIOUSNESS AS TO THE BUILDING'S MOTIVES. WERE THEY PURPOSELY HARRASSING THE HAWKS? SEVERAL DEVOTED HAWKWATCHERS GAVE UP MUCH OF THEIR TIME MONITORING THIS ACTIVITY, FIELDING ANXIOUS CALLS, AND HAVING MEETINGS WITH THE COMPANY HIRED TO DO THE WORK--PREFERRED RESTORATION. THE NYC AUDUBON ALSO HAD MEETINGS WITH THE COMPANY. i JUST RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM JO MILLER, ONE OF THE DEVOTED HAWKWATCHERS MENTIONED ABOVE:
The scaffolding is down. Georgie is loading up the truck now. The engineer checked the work and approved it. Preferred does NOT need to go back to the building ANY MORE. The hawks are free to nest undisturbed, and now that the repair work on the roof has been done, there is no danger that they will be bothered by scaffolding during nesting season.
THE WINDOW-WASHER PLATFORM [officially known as a swing stage] IS STILL UP AT 927 FIFTH AVE AS OF THIS MORNING. THE WORKMEN ARRIVED AT 7:30 TO TAKE IT DOWN AT LAST BUT WERE REFUSED ENTRY BY THE SUPER, HUGO NAVARETTE. APPARENTLY ONE LAST INSPECTION MUST BE MADE.
Over the weekend a large white sign put up by the Preferred Restoration Co [obviously to use this opportunity to advertise] came loose and was flapping over the nest site. There was much anxiety among the faithful hawkwatchers, who saw Lola and Pale Male try to land on their new digs in order to inspect the strange new contraption that had been put up a few days ago. Now the huge white sheet deterred them. They hovered and then flew back to the park.
Tom Berry of the Champion Metal and =Glass Co, the foreman of the crew that installed the new nest structure and a hero in my estimation [I wrote about him and his company below] made a special trip to the building on Sunday, from his home on Long Island, to try to do something about the white sheet that his company hadn't even put up! I don't know what exactly he did but the situation improved. The sheet is tucked in somehow.
Now it is Monday. Everybody wants that platform down, to make the nest site finally available to Pale Male and Lola. So it's getting a little tense around here. Calls are being made to the NYC Audubon, to Preferred Restorations, to the Parks Commissioner, the Architect, the Mayor. People are unclear on what this last inspection signifies and who has required it. The building? The city?
Please be sure that MANY people are on the case. Even Mary Tyler Moore, with whom I spoke this morning. She'll see what she can find out.
In the meanwhile, here's the most important news: PALE MALE AND LOLA ARE NEARBY. THEY'VE WAITED THIS LONG AND THEY'LL WAIT A LITTLE BIT LONGER.
So please don't worry quite as much. I'm getting many worried letters, and I'm sorry about your anxiety. I personally think we'll have a happy ending to this terrible-wonderful story!
IN THE MEANWHILE, HERE'S THE BEST ANTIDOTE FOR ANXIETY: READ JOHN BLAKEMAN'S LETTERS. HE REALLY KNOWS RED-TAILED HAWKS, AND HE GIVES THEM PLENTY OF TIME TO START REBUILDING. THEY MAY NOT BEGIN BRINGING TWIGS UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY.
A CHRISTMAS THANK YOU
Two days ago, on the glorious Thursday when the spikes were finally restored to Pale Male and Lola's nest site I spent four or so hours on the roof with a crew of workers, or I should say craftsmen, from Champion Glass and Metal Inc, the company that had signed on to actually construct the newly designed two part contraption. .
It was the company's owner, Ali Ghahremani, who was called on Friday, December 17th to see if he would take on the job. He made a quick decision: to drop everything else his company was doing and throw Champion's energies into helping Pale Male and Lola get their nest back. It was a brave decision, for the task was enormous, and the deadline was stringent.
The job: to take the plans [brilliant plans, I'd say] designed by architect Dan Ionescu and already passed by all the powers-that be from Audubon, the City, the Park, the Landmarks Commission, and to construct the structure out of stainless steel. Then it would be their job to bolt the 300 lb "Cradle" to the building wall and finally to attach on top of that the boat-shaped structure onto which the old spikes had been affixed.
[Mystery: After heartlessly removing the nest and spikes of Pale Male's 11-year home on December 7, why did the building management not throw away those spikes?
One possible answer: perhaps they hoped that once the hawks had resettled in some new home far far away from their unwelcoming building, the building would restore the old spikes back to their former place on top of the sad-angel ornament. Once again they would deter pigeons from desecrating it, [though surely not as well as the hawks had done.] Very rich people are often known to be thrifty, you know. How else did they get to be so rich?]
I am busy writing a new chapter for a new edition of Red-Tails in Love that will come out next April. It will tell of all the events of those sixteen days between the nest-removal and the final, triumphant nest-restoration. It will also describe in more detail the delightful hours I spent on the roof of 927 Fifth Avenue that rainy Thursday. I hope you will all have a chance to see it then.
But in the meanwhile, I want to wish a specially Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to those great guys who welcomed me into their work lives and impressed me with their skill, integrity, kindness to each other, and also, their joy at being included in this particular job. They had all heard about Pale Male and Lola. Now they knew they would be telling their grandchildren about their part in the drama some day in the far-off future. [Most of them were very young.]
So thanks to Tom Berry, the splendid leader of the crew [Project coordinator is his official title]. And thanks to 4 people who weren't on the roof that day but whose names Tom wanted me to include since they were just as important to the job as those men who were there: Ed Siolos, Vice President of operations for Champion, and the three men who turned the architect's design into a real thing at the Champion workshop in Deer Park: John Coahila, Fernando Garcia Gonzalez and Felida Diaz.
Thanks and Merry Christmas to Steve Goellner and Dave Townsend, who were down on the hanging platform hammering in the bolts, applying the epoxy, etc. for all the hours of the job. And remember, it was raining. I only saw them at the very end, when the scaffold finally was drawn up at the very end of the job and they climbed off it and onto the roof.
Thanks to Michael Aquilino, a glazier, who was perched on the roof's ledge just above where Steve and Dave were working, making sure they had everything they needed.
Thanks and Christmas cheer to Terrence Ripp and Jeff Crain, carpenters, who scurried around getting tools and equipment when needed and making sure everything was ready to be installed.
From another company, Preferred Restoration, present on the roof was Jimmy Kirwan from County Wexford --- he even told an Irish joke. Have a great holiday, Jimmy. It was fun shooting the breeze with you. Also there from Preferred, Justo Zumba.
Another contributor to the Pale Male & Lola Project was Felix Chavez, an artist and a specialist in art restoration. I never met him, but I saw the fruits of his labor: the fine paint job he did on the "Cradle" and especially on the spikes and their supporting structure. The paint covered up the stainless steel every part of the creation was made of. Somehow or other this artist made it look like it was made of basketry or wood.
And now my final thanks and admiration to John Flicker of the National Audubon Society who had played an important role in the crucial negotiations with the building management. And a loud, resounding Huzzah to E.J. McAdams , the young Executive Director of the New York City Audubon. E.J. donned an outfit of workmen's coveralls and a bright yellow safety harness. Then he climbed over the edge of the roof and descended to the waiting platform below.
He had with him a black plastic bag with the "starter twigs" for Pale Male and Lola, fresh twigs just gathered from a variety of trees in Central Park. They were all 12-14 inches long, the length redtails prefer.
Also included in the twig collection: two twigs from Pale Male's old 1993 nest that I had salvaged back in 1993 when the building removed the nest for the first time. A sentimental gesture.
I had given a bunch of them to Charles Kennedy, a Central Park Regular who was beloved by all. He was one of the main heroes of my book, and a hero in real life as well. The world knows him even better as a memorable figure in Frederic Lilien's documentary Pale Male that has been shown on the public television program Nature several times in recent weeks. Charles died of lymphoma just a few months ago.
His friend Lee Stinchcomb found the little packet of twigs in Charles' apartment after his death, and she gave EJ two of them to add to the starter twig collection. [My own twigs had vanished years ago.]
EJ climbed down to the newly installed Cradle and spike platform, deposited the twigs in just the way the various scientists had suggested, at random, with no effort at shaping into a cup shape. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw EJ disappear over the roof's ledge and I couldn't help hugging him with joy and relief when he hopped back to the roof in one piece.
I hope I haven't skipped anyone. But if I have, here's my excuse: It was raining so hard for all those hours that the ink on my notes ran and many of the pages stuck together. Some pages ended up looking like one big smudge.
So please forgive.
And to everyone who helped this story have a happy ending: Thanks. See you at the Hawk Bench next spring.
When I received John Blakeman's last letter about his conversation with Tess Parent, the Audubon scientist, I assumed he had been sent the plans. But just to be sure I sent him a link to a site where they had been posted. Here is his wonderful, comforting, optimistic response.
My wife and I were en route to Louisville when we were diverted by the extreme snowstorm that hit Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky two days ago. We were confined to a motel, with no access to the outside world. We escaped today, and I'm writing from my daughter's in Ft Wayne, Indiana. Thank you for getting the nest structure plans to me. This is the first that I've seen them.
In short, they are probably perfect, as good as could be designed. I'm very pleased with what I see. There will be no structural problems of any sort. The nest bowl can be effectively formed by the birds, and flights to and from the new nest will be completely un-hindered. It looks very acceptable.
Here's what I predict. If the pair chooses -- and I believe they should -- nesting should resume. I can envision the birds extending the sticks right to the outer edge of the new structure, which is now 26.5 inches from the building wall at the back of the nest. The birds will like this. Formerly, the nest was parked on a rather narrow ledge. Obviously, it worked. But from ledge nests I've studied in Nevada and Idaho, and from typical Eastern nest dimensions (up to 30 inches in diameter), the pair will delightfully extend the outer rim of the nest onto the new angled rods that point away from the building. And as hoped for, these rods will firmly support the nest, keeping it from falling over the front.
This is a very fine design. It will work. If the birds don't nest there this year, it's not because of this new structure. It will be for some other, unrelated reason.
I'm very pleased with both the materials and the design. For this site, for this pair, this should work.
But this should not be necessarily regarded as a model for any future nest structure for any other NYC or other urban red-tail nest. Pale Male selected this site for unknown reasons. As those who study Western red-tail ledge nests know, this nest site is much too high above the ground, and it is also on a rounded surface that slopes off precipitously on both sides. The narrowness of the "ledge" is not favorable. The new structure obviates that a bit.
But red-tails being red-tails, they frequently don't conform to the pronouncements of "experts" like me. That makes studying them so delightful. The birds so frequently come up with new and unique behaviors that allow them to succeed in ways never seen before. Red-tails seldom capture pigeons, but this pair has learned the feat well. Once, I found a red-tail that built a nest just 20 ft off the ground, with numerous more "perfect" nest trees nearby. The pair raised and fledged a pair of eyasses. So, red-tails are capable of many things not so commonly observed. Pale Male and his mates have shown that repeatedly. They should be happy with what they see when they now soar past 927 Fifth Avenue.
I will follow their nesting developments from afar, knowing that everyone has done all that could and should have been done. It's all now in Nature's Hands once again.
I thank you for your allowing me as a distant outsider to post my observations. My best wishes, once again, to all.
John A. Blakeman
12/23/04 THE LAST SCENE OF THE NEST-CRISIS DRAMA
ON THE ROOF: PUTTING THE SPIKES BACK
Below, a hawk story with a happy ending. Let's hope ours has one too. This article was sent to me via e-mail. I'm not sure whether it appeared in today's paper, or only in the on-line version. In any case, it makes reference to the Fifth Avenue Hawks.
December 22, 2004
A Happy Tale for the Birds: Wings Wide, Pierre Is Free
By COREY KILGANNON
Not every red-tailed hawk is a celebrity.
Sure, there was quite an uproar in recent weeks when Pale Male and Lola, the beloved residents of a cornice on a luxury Fifth Avenue co-op building on the Upper East Side, were evicted.
But scant attention was paid last week when, about 100 blocks downtown at a decidedly less elegant location - above the chilly waters of the East River - a young red-tailed hawk was apparently attacked by a flock of seagulls and nearly drowned.
The hawk was rescued by police officers with the department's scuba team and taken to a Manhattan animal hospital, officials said. The officers named the bird Pierre because it was rescued near Pier 11.
A news conference was held yesterday morning in Forest Park, Queens, where the hawk was released back into the wild. Officers Charles Schnetzer, 29, and James Conroy, 40, both from Queens, were there to describe the rescue.
Around noon on Dec. 14, a group of seagulls attacked Pierre, leaving him fighting for his life in the river, the police said. He was spotted flapping in the water by officers patrolling the river by boat.
"We saw an odd-colored object in the water," Officer Schnetzer said. "We're used to seeing geese and seagulls, but this didn't look anything like that. I've never seen a hawk in the water. I didn't know about hawks until the whole Pale Male thing. Its wings were outstretched and it was flapping, trying to get out."
Officer Conroy added, "Someone came out of a building and said the bird was being attacked by the seagulls."
Several officers lowered an inflatable motorboat and used it to approach the hawk and throw a blanket over him to scoop him out of the water.
The hawk would probably have drowned if not rescued, said Christopher A. Nadareski, a research scientist for the city's Department of Environmental Protection, who was also at yesterday's ceremony.
"The gulls were either trying to get his food or just anxious because the hawk was in their territory," he said. "It was lucky the right people were nearby at the right time." Pierre was kept for a week of examination, he said.
"No obvious injuries were found," he said. "It was probably just in shock."
Mr. Nadareski said Pierre could not be released in the same area he was rescued because of the danger from the many Peregrine falcons that nest and roost on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
"With a young, inexperienced bird like this, there is a high probability it would have been attacked almost immediately," he said.
Forest Park was chosen because "we have 543 acres in the park and it's the largest stand of woodland in Queens," said Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens borough park commissioner.
"We're hoping he stays in Queens," Ms. Lewandowski added.
Mr. Nadareski said he is an adviser to the architects hired by the East Side co-op building where Pale Male and Lola lived to design a support for a new nest for the two birds. (After the protests and media attention, the building's board met and decided to allow the hawks a chance to return and rebuild a nest there.)
Yesterday, Mr. Nadareski carried Pierre in a case with its air vents mostly closed off with duct tape so that the nervous hawk would not be ruffled by the camera crews, photographers and reporters hustling alongside of it.
"It's a stressful day," Mr. Nadareski said, as he carried the case to a snowy infield in the park, with a dozen cameras trained on him. "Not for me, for the bird."
Pierre was taken out of the case and Mr. Nadareski held him up and explained that the eyes and feathers indicated that he was probably hatched around April. He said he could not tell if the hawk was from New York City or would remain here, or even if it could be an offspring of Pale Male and Lola, for that matter.
He held the hawk up and said, "Sometimes they fall right back on the ground, but our hope is that he'll take off."
To help the photographers time their shots, he chanted "Three, two, one," and heaved Pierre toward the cold winter sky.
The hawk fluttered momentarily and then, revealing its majestic four-foot wingspan, flew off, dipping at first perilously low to the ground and then ascending high to a limb of a nearby tree.
Shutters snapped, shouts went up and a city official observed, "It's a big time for hawks in New York."
12/22/04 --- 2:20 pm
Please note that the vigils are continuing,4:30-7:30pm although no longer under the aegis of NYCA. They will continue until the spikes are up.
Here is yesterday's [12/21] Bulletin from NYC Audubon [EJ McAdams]:
Pale Male and Lola: The Wait is Almost Over
On Monday, December 20th, the project moved forward. The architect received
the final approvals and permits, and fabrication of the structure began.
Depending on the weather, the structure should be up on Wednesday or Thursday - just
in time for Pale Male and Lola to come home for the holidays.
When the safeguard structure goes up, it will have the spikes from the
original nest. In addition, biologists have advised NYC Audubon that twigs from
Central Park should be laid on top of the spikes to attract Pale Male and Lola,
and give them something with which to begin work, if they want.
This past Saturday marked the last of 12 NYC Audubon-lead vigils for Pale
Male and Lola. Thank you to the hundreds of members and supporters who stood out
in the cold and chanted "Bring Back The Nest," and to the thousands who sent
letters and emails, and signed the petition. Your overwhelming support of these
birds is directly responsible for the current progress on the project.
12/21/04 -- AND NOW FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT
People have been asking me to explain why there's been such a powerful reaction to the removal of Pale Male's nest on December 7. People have also been expressing strong and violent opinions about the man most of us hold responsible for the terrible act, Richard Cohen, the chairman of the Board of Directors of 927 Fifth Ave.
Below is an article from this morning's NY Times that suggests an answer to the first question, and also points to the possibility of redemption when considering the perpetrator of the act. I hope Richard Cohen reads it. He probably doesn't look at this website, but like all New Yorkers he probably reads the NY Times at breakfast every morning:
December 21, 2004
The Strongest Force? Any Parent Can Tell You
By DENNIS OVERBYE
What's the strongest force in the universe?
Some people will say gravity. But that would be wrong. Gravity, physicists say, is intrinsically puny and gets its overwhelming oomph only from the fact that everything, even energy, contributes to it. Which isn't much consolation, admittedly, when you drop, say, your trusty college edition of the complete annotated works of William Shakespeare on your foot.
An astronomer quoted in this newspaper a few years back said that jealousy was the strongest force in the universe.
Now we're getting closer.
I'd like to convince you, at the possible cost of my reputation as a cold-eyed observer of cosmic affairs, that it is love.
I learned this from a squirrel, some years ago, when I was living up in the Hudson Valley. An Eastern gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, to be precise, since this is the science section. She was sitting on the corner of the roof in the rain, bedraggled and sopping wet, staring at me with holy fire in her little dark brown eyes.
This was on the third day of a siege of what had started as a nuisance and was now terror.
It had begun with an occasional scratching sound in the bedroom ceiling. Our first thought was mice in the crawl space running under the peak of the roof. But the only access was through vents at either end. Sure enough, when we went outside and looked up there was a hole in the vent. Some animal had chewed its way in.
It was the home of my girlfriend Catherine. She had built it only a few years before, slaving through the summers and weekends to do all the finish work with her own hands. She rightly felt violated.
We sent an S O S to her brother, who is a builder, and he came over with a 25-foot ladder, climbed up and announced that there was a nest of ripped-up fiberglass inside.
He nailed a new vent into place and went home.
And so we woke up the next day to the sound of chewing. The vent was just over the window and there was a squirrel spitting splinters as she tried to get in. We had nailed her babies inside.
We went out and threw stones at her. She retreated to a nearby tree and sat there squawking at us.
Maybe she will give up, we told ourselves, in a moment I'm still ashamed of.
She didn't. I went outside and stood in the rain looking up at the roof. The squirrel glared back down accusingly. I didn't have the heart to throw another stone at her.
"She's eating my house," Catherine said, giving me a look not unlike the squirrel's.
I slunk off and found a listing for animal trappers in the yellow pages. A tall guy I immediately nicknamed Daniel Boone showed up the next morning in a fur hat and knee-length boots. He climbed up the house with a long-handled net and quickly emerged with six baby squirrels. He set them in a trap in the woods near the house. They were spitting and growling.
He said, "Don't put your hand in," and went off for coffee.
As soon as he was gone the mother emerged from the woods. She scurried up the ladder into the house and then back out even faster, and ran through the woods up and down trees looking for her babies, winding up in the trap amid a renewed chorus of squawking.
Daniel Boone came back and took them away, he said, to new home in the woods on the other side of the Hudson. I have no reason to doubt his word.
We had to replace some clapboards and nail wire over the vent to prevent a recurrence of the invasion, and that was the end of it, sort of.
That squirrel's glare still haunts me. Especially now that I'm a parent myself.
In October, David Gross, a newly minted Nobel Prize physicist, wondered if science would one day be able to measure the onset of consciousness in an infant.
He likened that shift to what physicists call a "phase change," a microscopic adjustment that makes a macroscopic difference, as when water freezes to ice, or the atoms in a magnet line up.
But I wonder if we could measure the onset of love. Surely that is a phase change, too, a physical shifting of the internal firmament.
Now you might say I have some nerve imputing feelings as ethereal and high-flown as love to a toothy spitting pile of fur and bone with a brain the size of walnut - rats with a bushy tails, as squirrels are often called out in the unromantic countryside. Surely this is just another example of the kind of egregious anthropomorphizing that makes us identify emotionally with animals, robots, the Mars rovers, our cars.
But tell me you've never been taken in by a smile. Human love, biochemists say, is a sort of oxytocin drunk, an addiction to the hormones our partners, real or desired, release in us.
We anthropomorphize ourselves, in other words. Why not a squirrel?
As far as I know, we are both testimony to the marvelous possibilities inherent in the assembly of myriads of atoms. Richard Feynman, the iconoclastic Caltech physicist, once said that if he could pass one piece of knowledge on to future generations it would be that everything is made of atoms. He meant not to diminish "everything," but rather to ennoble and make us appreciate the talents of atoms.
In another twist on the subject of love and physics, three-quarters of a century ago, in 1925 to be exact, Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian physicist, went off to a Swiss resort with a mysterious woman friend, and came back with an equation that describes matter as a wave spreading throughout all space. Schrödinger's equation is now the basis of quantum mechanics, which is the foundation of modern physics.
In principle, physicists like to say, Schrödinger's equation explains all of chemistry and thus all of life, including squirrels.
But when they say it, they mean it as a joke. The equation hasn't been solved except by numerical approximations for anything more complicated than a hydrogen atom - one proton and one electron. As for life, Joel Cohen, a population biologist at Rockefeller University, wrote in an essay in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology that entirely new realms of mathematics would be needed to cope with the complexity of the living world, but I think he's being optimistic.
As a glance at any morning's headlines will tell you, we understand next to nothing.
Or as the refrain to "Albert Einstein Dreams" by Naked to the World put it:
Just because I'm Albert Einstein doesn't mean I understand
The ever-expanding universe between a woman and a man.
If I knew, or had half a clue, I'd be much more famous than I am.
So I'm willing to believe in squirrel love. As for human love, I used to wonder if I had it in me to chew down a house. Until my wife, Nancy, and I adopted our daughter, Mira.
A baby sitter, whom we did not know well, disappeared with her for a few hours, and I rampaged through every store and playground on the Upper West Side only to have them show up back at the apartment on time wondering what the fuss was about.
So now I know.
A report from the Monday Rally and some important addresses and phone numbers: [From Aimee Van Dyne]
To all Pale Male Supporters,
Thanks to all the die-hards who came out in the cold Monday night to continue our support for Pale Male. We had so many people honking horns and making noise--I think the drivers in the cars wanted to give us their support when they saw how COLD we were!
We will continue our Rally for Pale Male on Tuesday, December 21, from 4:30-7:30 P.M. @ the corner or 74th street and 5th Avenue. The schedule for the rest of the week is:
Tuesday-Friday, 4:30-7:30 P.M. @ the corner of 74th Street and 5th Avenue
If we see that no work has been done by Wednesday, we are going to be furious! At that point, we may need to schedule rallies into the weekend. Please continue to show your support for Pale Male by contacting these people:
Mayor Bloomberg 311
Richard Cohen (Co-op Board President) 212-980-0090
Paula Zahn 212-275-8161
Jack Cafferty @ CNN: www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html?2
New York 1 News 212-691-6397
CBS News 212-975-5867
NBC News 212-664-4444
ABC News 212-456-3173
Jonathan Klein, President CNN 212-275-7800
Princell Harr, Sr. Programming, CNN 212-275-7800
12/20/04-- I JUST RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING COMMUNICATION FROM JOHN BLAKEMAN, WHO HAS BEEN SHARING HIS EXPERTISE ABOUT REDTAILED HAWKS WITH ME AND THE NEW YORK CITY AUDUBON SINCE DAY 2 OF THIS CRISIS:
I just had a very useful discussion with Dr. Tess Present, Acting Director of Science, Senior Scientist, Ecology & Conservation Science, of Audubon regarding what steps should be taken when the new nest-supporting device is installed. (I did not ask when this would happen, but apparently it will go up soon.)
First, the nest-supporting structure will not extend above the finished nest rim. That was a major concern of mine. The birds will now be able to land and take off unhindered by any structural contrivance. This is very, very good news.
The other question was what should be placed in the center of the new structure, if anything, to lure the birds back. All of the Audubon consultants apparently agreed that it would be best to place typical red-tail sticks in the center. I concurred and stated that they should be about a centimeter in diameter (thickness of ones little finger) and about 16-inches long or so.
I also strongly recommended that no attempt should be made to “reconstruct” the former nest, that no nest sculpting should be done in an attempt to restore the former nest bowl. The better maneuver would be to randomly place a flat pile of sticks in the center of the structure about 4 inches deep. This loose pile of sticks should not be compressed or secured in any way. That's what the birds will want to do on their own.
The only purpose of the new stick pile is to let the birds know that sticks are now supported there. That's all that's required. No one has the furniture delivery men decide how the living room will be arranged. Likewise, humans in a scaffold many stories over Fifth Avenue shouldn't try to decide how the Pale Male pair will want their nest furniture arranged. Like all couples with a New York flat, Pale Male and Lola will decide for themselves exactly how the sticks, the furniture, should be arranged.
And I pointed out that no one should be concerned if the pair is seen throwing out the new sticks. Frankly, the pair may have a biological urge to select, gather, and return its own twig collection. If I were to see the pair tossing out the new sticks in January, I’d be very positive about what's going on. That would mean that the pair has absolutely reclaimed the nest site and they are getting ready for the real activities which begin in February and March.
There was a question as to what kind of sticks should be used in this initial stick “seeding.” The old sticks from the removed nest are apparently available. But I strongly urged that these not be used, for these reasons. The sticks at the bottom of the old nest have been in the weather for years and are partially rotted and weak. I've watched my research redtails build nests, and they become extremely frustrated when they have to use partially decomposed sticks that break when they try to plunge them into the expanding nest structure. Don't use any of the old sticks. Some might be acceptable, but many would not be. Let the pair select their own new furniture. They aren't hurting for nest material. They've got all of Central Park's trees to select from. We know that nest building is a sexual and pair-bonding activity, so even though the pair will have to work harder getting the nest prepared this year, the pair will only be stronger for it. To borrow a domestic phrase, ”It's a good thing.”
I made one point to Audubon that all nest watchers should be aware of. I will not be surprised at all if the pair actually abandons all nest activity in January. The pair might be seen sitting on some distant building or corner of Central Park, apparently oblivious to the new nest. It might appear that the pair has abandoned the 927 site.
But that's because January is the depth of winter. Biological nesting prompts are not yet very strong. In most wild rural redtails, we seldom see nesting activity of any kind in January at New York city's latitude (the same as mine in northern Ohio). But as the day's begin to discernibly lengthen in February, the pair's sex hormones will flow profusely, resulting in all the proper nest-building and breeding behaviors seen before. This is a successful, experienced pair. They know exactly what to do, and when to do it. Building a nest in December or January isn't biologically important to redtails. In February and March it is.
So we must be patient. The nest-holding device that will go up is very good. No concerns about that. A few proper sticks will be placed up there by humans, to let our famous pair know with certainty that another breeding effort at this site is possible. But the pair will do things in its own time frame, not ours. I see nothing else that could or should be done now.
Nest watchers may want to keep track of the pair's nest refurbishment. Rural birds rebuild frequently, and the speed with which they build the major nest structure is remarkable. The bare crotch of a big tree can be vacant one day in February, and in just two or three days a bushel-basket sized nest frame appears.
Then, the birds will bring smaller leaves and twigs to line the nest. This is crucial, a process that young, inexperienced birds often fail at. The nest bottom must be tight and draft-free. First-year nests are often wide open, with winds easily blowing through the sticks and fatally cooling the eggs. But this pair will take great care in forming a tight nest bottom.
Lastly, watch for either of the pair (but the male most often) bringing a fresh green sprig of some evergreen to the nest. Virtually all redtails do this, even those in desert regions. We have no understanding of why. But don't be surprised to see Pale Male bringing a green twig of a Central Park evergreen to the nest during incubation and for a week or so after hatching. The only explanation is that the aromatic evergreen twigs tend to repel arthropod pests in the nest, but anyone who's ever been in a redtail's nest knows that this doesn't work. The evergreen sprigs are a mystery.
Altogether, I’m satisfied that all will go well, that the pair will resume successful breeding.
And even if it doesn't, I still wouldn't be overly concerned if they take a year off. Producing three eggs and feeding three eyasses to fledging requires an enormously draining effort. It is not uncommon for rural redtails to skip a breeding year every now and again, so don't lose heart of the pair decides to sit out this season. And a new male or female could show up in the following year. This happens frequently, too.
I commend everyone for their concerns and efforts in bringing all of this to the best possible resolution. You have focused the world's attention on your famous pair, which has brought recognition to red-tailed hawks across the continent. If redtails were as uncommon as peregrine falcons or bald eagles, many more would appreciate this regal and noble species. Sadly, out here in rural areas, where a redtail can be seen sitting on a utility pole every ten or twenty miles, the species is too often taken for granted, even dismissed. But New Yorkers, like they do to everything else so fine in the city, have regarded Pale Male and Lola as a special treasure. We commend all of you for the preservation of this nest site and wish everyone the best hawk-viewing possible. Your redtails now belong to all of us.
My best wishes to all, especially to Pale Male and Lola.
John A. Blakeman, falconer, raptor researcher
12/20 --- From Jo Miller:
I've just spoken with AP Television News. The man I spoke with said letters in support of Lincoln should go to:
AP Corporate Communications
450 West 33rd Street
New York, New York 10001-2603
He said that there were a number of people who would be reading them (including Laurie Morris, with whom I've spoken). I though I'd hand-deliver the ones we've received, so that I can see that they get into the right hands and can follow up with those individuals after a few days.
If people want to send their letters directly to that address, that's great. Copies should also go to Lincoln's attorney. (I have not spoken to him about this, but I assume these character references can only help the case. I left a message at his office, and if he calls back and says to do something else with the letters, I'll let you know.)
Dino J. Lombardi
52 Duane Street
New York, New York 10007
REMINDER: ANY LETTERS OF CHARACTER REFERENCE FOR LINCOLN KARIM SHOULD BE SENT TO:
They will forward them to the appropriate authorities, and to Lincoln's lawyer.
YESTERDAY WE RECEIVED THIS ADVISORY - from Regina Alvarez of the Central Park Conservancy:
At approximately 8:45am this morning, a dead red-tailed hawk was found in Central Park near Pine Hill by a member of the public. The bird appears to have died of natural causes.
As per protocol, the bird was transported to a state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) pathologist near Albany, NY. The pathologist will identify the gender of the bird and the cause of death.
TODAY WE HEAR FROM KENTAURIAN:
We have seen Pale Male and Lola since the dead hawk was found. He and she are well.
12/18/04 - IN DEFENSE OF lINCOLN
At yesterday's rally, as I was expressing an opinion contrary to that of the rally's organizers, [see item below] one of the people in the circle around me exclaimed angrily "Are you going to harrass seven-year old boys too!!"
I was indignant at this comment. I realized that she, and many others there, had bought into the media's outcry about Lincoln Karim as a "stalker" and a "Child Harrasser". I know Lincoln well, and so do most of the people who were at the rally. His error, as he readily admits, was excessive zeal, of going too far in his passion for the hawks and inadvertantly frightening two children. Perhaps he needs a course in anger management. The idea that this man is a stalker and a child harrasser is absurd.
It is possible that the resident of 927 Fifth Ave. whose children were frightened by Lincoln's shouting and who pressed charges of stalking and harrassing, did not know him and was genuinely frightened [though I often wonder if the reaction would have been the same if Lincoln were not a large, dark-skinned man], but my fellow protesters at last night's rally should have known better.
I'd like to reprint here a letter from a teacher at the Nightingale Bamford School, an exclusive private school for girls in Manhattan where many Fifth Avenue residents, perhaps even some in the "Hawk Building" send their daughters:
December 17, 2004
This letter is in support of Lincoln Karim. Rather than put forth a set of opinions, I will just tell the story of my experiences with Lincoln.
I am a lower school science teacher at an upper east side girls’ school. I have been in my current position for seventeen years and, in that role, have had the good fortune to meet expert naturalists from time to time.
This fall, one of my student’s families suggested that I call Lincoln Karim in connection with our on-going studies in Central Park. We spoke several times resulting in a scheduled bird-watching outing.
I have never worked with a more generous, patient or thoughtful naturalist. The children responded to his kindness and expertise. He met us at school and walked us into the Ramble. As we came upon various animals (squirrels, ducks, sparrows), Lincoln pulled from his pockets the perfect food for that wild animals and showed the students how to feed them. We were having such fun that time got away from us. We wound up needing to cab back to school. Lincoln refused a reimbursement, explaining that it was his pleasure to help the students learn about the animals of the park.
Beyond that, Lincoln is an expert nature photographer. He gave each student a packet of 23 photographs of the animals they had seen. He also took a class picture that we have posted in our classroom. The look on the students’ faces explains without words the wonderful learning experience we had thanks to Lincoln’s patience and kindness. He is a natural teacher. We all learned so much that morning.
It was our good fortune to know Lincoln Karim. The animals of Central Park are much more fortunate than we.
20 East 92nd Street
New York, New York 10128
12/17/04 -- 6:30 pm
While most New Yorkers bustled around doing their last-minute Christmas shopping, a small group of disheartened birdwatchers and Pale Male admirers gathered at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 74th St., across the street from the building where Pale Male's nest once reposed, to take part in the New York City Audubon's daily Vigil. Though the media have been announcing for days that the Building has capitulated, that the spikes will be restored, that the little guys have won over the Billionaires, ten days have gone by since the nest and spikes were brutally removed, and the nest site is still bare.
No, not really bare. A scaffold [like the kind window-washers use] that had been put up two days ago to "take measurements for the guard rails and to make a template" is now positioned precisely at the old nest site. Why is it there, I couldn't help wondering, and not down at street level where I observed it on December 15?
Well, it's good PR for 927 Fifth Ave: "See, we're going to fix everything up! We've got the scaffold in place." But in fact, the platform up there with its ropes and hydraulic devices can do nothing but keep the hawks from perching there during the day, and from retaining some sense of ownership of the old nest site. It should be brought down to street level and left there until the time it is needed to restore the nest.
Ten days have gone by since the nest was removed. The endless procedures the building is demanding, for what I consider spurious safety and health reasons, seem too time consuming. The nest had been up there since 1993, and during those years it caused not the smallest bit of harm. The idea that the nest might fall down and hurt someone is outlandish. It is not like a super-sized robin's nest that is held together by mud. This nest is [or was] just a collection of individual twigs, each of which, if it were to fall, would slowly parachute to the ground. There is only the mild inconvenience of whitewash [i.e. hawk poop] falling on the building's spanking-clean awning. Guard rails? A catchment net for the negligible pieces of prey debris that might fall during the brief period there are young in the nest? These birds do not leave carcasses anywhere near their nest. They have evolved over the centuries to carry such debris a good distance away, in order not to attract predators to their nest site. What the building is demanding [and getting] doesn't make sense.
Now there are engineers who must approve the plans the architects are designing. And various experts to consult on whether these plans are suitable for the hawks. And of course the Landmarks Commission to be applied to for approval, since the building is in a landmarked Historic District. None of this would be necessary if the spikes were to be replaced in exactly the place they had been before their removal. It's so simple. That could and should have been done days ago, when everybody proclaimed that Victory is Ours.
Tonight the Audubon leaders [both of them my friends] sadly reported that the spikes would not be up until next Monday or Tuesday at the earliest because the building is "repointing the arch" or something like that. I didn't quite make it out. I clearly understood that the work would not begin until Monday.
The leaders begged those gathered there with their signs and candles to tone it down, to put away their Honk 4 Hawks signs. People in adjoining buildings were complaining about the noise. Most of the protesters complied. I'm afraid I did not feel like toning it down. I wanted to make so much noise that the Board members of 927 Fifth Avenue, sitting down to their elegant dinners, could not help but be reminded of what they had done. I felt like weeping and had to go home.
Here is my favorite article so far, and from Business Week, no less! Interesting to com pare it with the article directly below, another of my favorites, from the World Socialist Web.
DECEMBER 16, 2004
By Bruce Nussbaum
New Yorkers Hear the Call of the Wild
Let's hope the stormy saga of evicted Fifth Avenue hawk Pale Male reminds
city and country folk alike of nature's glories
Pale Male's New York saga appears to be coming to an end. The Fifth Avenue
co-op board that voted to remove the nest of this famous red-tailed hawk
from their building appears to have relented in the face of enormous public
pressure. It now says it will allow Pale Male and his mate, Lola, to
rebuild their digs.
I hope it isn't too late. The hawks have been desperately bringing twigs to
their cornice ledge for days, only to have the wind blow them away. The
building says it will replace the anti-pigeon spikes that anchored the
hawks' nest, and add a guardrail around the 12th floor window cornice to
prevent rat or bird carcasses from falling to the street. But after raising
23 chicks over 11 years at this fancy address, Pale Male may soon decide to
move on to more hospitable climes unless the building moves fast.
The saddest part of this whole spectacle is that the owners of these
multimillion-dollar apartments still don't get it. They may be Masters of
the Universe, but they can't see the beauty of the world. Red-tails are
fierce, free hunters, with wings that span four feet, tails that blaze in a
clear sky, and cries that pierce the air. Like bald eagles, red-tails
embody much of the spirit of America. Pale Male's decision to make the
cliff-dwellings of the Big Apple his home in 1993 was an awesome complement
to New Yorkers. He gave them a chance to observe a slice of raw nature up
CULTURE VULTURES. Many New Yorkers grew to love him. Birders, of course,
spotted Pale Male flying over Central Park, hunting for pigeons and other
small game. Children loved to line up at the many telescopes trained on the
nest to watch Pale Male and his mates raise their families year after year.
Watching small fledging hawks take that first jump and fly out of the nest
was awe-inspiring to these kids.
Yet for every wide-eyed child gaping in wonder at the hawks, many more
adults are blind to them. Urban Americans don't get nature. They see it as
messy, dirty, alien to them. City dwellers, historically, have been the
builders of high culture -- museums, symphony halls, libraries,
skyscrapers. They aren't taught very much about the wild in school, and
with the exception of summer camps, don't have much real contact with it.
But Eastern urbanites aren't alone in their ignorance of and even
antagonism toward nature. Go west to Texas and other states that have
frontier cultures and you find a similar desire to conquer the wild and
replace it with civilization. Westerners just put down ranches and farms
rather than put up skyscrapers.
You have energy people wanting to drill holes into every mesa, mountain
range, and canyon. You have loggers wanting to put roads into every
wilderness and cut down every big, old tree in every forest. And everywhere
developers are building on deserts or around lakes, on mountaintops and
RED, BLUE -- AND GREEN. The weird thing about the West is that, unlike
Eastern cities, it's full of hunters and people who love the outdoors. Yet
the urge to exploit nature rather than protect and enjoy it dominates
today's Western states. You could say that wanting to eradicate the wild is
one of the few things that blue- and red-state cultures have in common.
Yes, of course, this is an exaggeration. Plenty of birders, hunters, fisher
folks, hikers, skiers, runners, and others understand the majesty of
nature. Even in New York. The push-back against the titans of finance and
real estate who evicted Pale Male and Lola was surprisingly intense, and
I don't know if Goldman Sachs Chairman Hank Paulson, a birder on the board
of the Peregrine Fund, had a quiet word with Bruce Wasserstein, legendary
investment banker and resident of the Fifth Avenue building that took down
Pale Male's nest. But I hope he did. I do know that actress Mary Tyler
Moore and her doctor husband fought bravely against the eviction and led
the battle to get Pale Male and Lola back.
BIRD BY BIRD. Not much wilderness is left in America, not much of the
"wild" left to discover and enjoy. Easterners and Westerners alike are
destroying it. Pale Male reminds us all of what we're losing, what we'll
soon be missing. The fight for his nest is a battle worth having.
I've been birding in Central Park for a long time. I've seen Pale Male hunt
for game, court a mate, raise a brood, and dominate the sky on a cloudless
day. He is, in his way, a true Master of the Universe, and he should be
welcomed as one.
- - - - -
Bruce Nussbaum () is BusinessWeek's
editorial page editor .
ANOTHER FINE ARTICLE, this one from World Socialist Web
[This event may unite the most disparate groups! Both the Business Week article, and the WSW article see the event as a small part of larger social issues.
A New York City parable: Pale Male, the red-tailed hawk
By Clare Hurley
16 December 2004
In Aesop’s Fables and other parables, animal behavior serves as an instructive paradigm for human and social relations. The sly fox dies of thirst trying to reach the grapes, the overconfident hare loses out to the persistent tortoise, the shackled lion humbles himself to let the mouse gnaw through his ropes.
What lesson might be drawn from the story of Pale Male, the 10-year-old red-tailed hawk whose nest was removed last week from the façade of one of New York’s most fashionable Fifth Avenue addresses, touching off angry protests?
To the many hundreds of dedicated bird-lovers who come every year—not just from the local area, but from across the country and even around the world—to watch the hawk through their cameras and high-powered binoculars, Pale Male epitomizes the indomitable spirit of nature pitted against the urban environment.
They read human virtues into behavior that is for the most part instinctual—praising his unique personality, and exceptional parenting skills. One of Pale Male’s self-appointed guardians, Charles Kennedy, went as far as to say, “He is a good dad. He just is. He is the one we always wanted.”
The bird’s fans are undoubtedly moved by a wild animal’s mating and fledgling-raising rituals in the heart of the city, and they have made him famous. There is a best-selling novel about him, Red Tails in Love, by Marie Winn, under consideration to be made into a film by director Nora Ephron. Public television produced an award-winning documentary about him narrated by Joanne Woodward and based on Winn’s book. He even has own web site.
Whether they admit it or not, however, the subtext of Pale Male’s fame has as much to do with his audacious choice of an address as it does with his wildlife status. Apartments at 927 Fifth Avenue sell for as much as $18 million, and the building is home to some of New York’s richest and most famous. Among the select few residing there are actress Mary Tyler Moore (one of the hawk’s most ardent defenders), CNN newscaster Paula Zahn (who had a protester arrested for allegedly harassing her), and former Enron director Robert A. Belfer.
The bird lives there for free along with his mates and fledglings.
Or rather, lived, until the president of the co-op board and wealthy real estate developer Richard Cohen unilaterally ordered the nest removed last week. Residents had complained that the 8-by-3-foot nest overlooking the front entrance was too large, and that the hawks were swooping down on pigeons and rats, gobbling them up and hurling the remains on the sidewalk.
The irony seems lost upon most of these residents that what they find offensive in the hawks’ behavior bears a striking resemblance to their own social role. What about their oversized and well-feathered nests, which take up entire floors of the 5th Avenue building? As for unseemly predatory practices, the hawk doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of an Enron director or his fellow co-op owner Bruce Wasserstein, the Wall Street mergers-and-acquisitions mogul.
The hawks, at least, do their hunting to survive, whereas these multimillionaires carry out their socially destructive activities for the sole purpose of amassing ever-greater mountains of wealth.
Red-tailed hawks are rare enough to have been protected by a treaty signed in 1918 between several nations, including the US, Canada and Russia. A decade ago, an earlier attempt to evict the birds was blocked when their defenders invoked this international agreement.
Like the corporations that have been allowed to ride roughshod over environmental protection regulations in pursuit of profit, the multimillionaire co-op owners easily secured a “reinterpretation” of the treaty from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency ruled that the nest could be removed as long as it contained no eggs or chicks, giving the co-op board the green light to finally get rid of what it saw as a long-standing nuisance.
Now protesters dressed as birds and waving placards saying “Honk 4 Hawks” have mounted a vigil across the street from the elegant building. In an attempt to broker a resolution to the conflict, a meeting was organized between government officials representing another multimillionaire, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, environmental groups such as the New York City Audubon Society, and members of the co-op board.
The birders are insisting that the nest be restored to its original spot, 12 stories above the canopied entrance. In an effort to appease them, the building management is offering to spend $100,000 to build a platform and relocate the nest on the roof.
There is something obscene in all of this brouhaha. It contrasts starkly with the prevailing social indifference toward 36,000 people sleeping in New York City homeless shelters every night—while thousands of others make their own rather pathetic nests of cardboard boxes on the sidewalks until they are rousted by the police. No treaty protects them, and there are no protests when they are thrown out of their homes for not being able to pay the rent.
Not just individuals, but whole neighborhoods can be summarily evicted to build multimillion-dollar sports complexes and other high-profit developments. In one instance among many, a new arena for the Nets of the National Basketball Association, proposed in a lower-income Brooklyn neighborhood by developer Bruce Ratner, will most likely be built despite the protest of residents, who face the destruction of their homes.
So while the birders may see in Pale Male a model parent or a defiant force of nature, the controversy over his eviction tells another story. It is one in which a powerful and rapacious elite preys mercilessly on the poor and defenseless, indifferently casting their remains away when they’ve extracted all they could. That is the true parable of Pale Male and New York City, the capital of capital.
The Scott Peterson case: a new American tragedy
[11 December 2004]
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12/17 --AN APPEAL TO FRIENDS OF LINCOLN KARIM
In a message dated 12/16/2004 22:01:47, a loyal friend, Jo Miller [email@example.com] writes:
I spoke to Lincoln this evening. He's spending some time in quiet
reflection, he says, and is just as glad to be away from his job in
television for now (he's been suspended). He thanks everyone for
their continuing efforts on behalf of the hawks and for their well
wishes. He'll stay in touch but obviously can't be with us in person.
Anyone who knows Lincoln and wants to write a personal character
reference can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
With the press painting a distorted picture of Lincoln as some
deranged stalker, it will help for his employer (and his attorney) to
have firsthand accounts of what the real Lincoln Karim is like.
Illustrative stories are a plus. Thanks.
Once again, either of the following will forward your letters, pictures, stories etc to Lincoln's lawyer and to AP officials:
12/16/04 -- Update On Lincoln and a personal note from me
Here's an item from this morning's New York Times, in a section called Metro Briefings
[This is a daily catchall of local news items in brief. The hawk story is no longer big time, now that they've announced a successful agreement that the spikes will be restored. Hmmm]:
MANHATTAN: HAWK PROTESTER IS RELEASED A man who was accused of harassing and stalking the television newscaster Paula Zahn and her family over her husband's role in the removal of a nest for two red-tailed hawks from an Upper East Side apartment house was released yesterday on order of a Manhattan Criminal Court judge. The man, Lincoln Karim, 43, was released on the condition that he not approach Ms. Zahn or her family and that he stay at least 1,000 feet away from their apartment house on Fifth Avenue. Richard Cohen, Ms. Zahn's husband, is the president of the building's co-op board, which decided to remove the nest, touching off a nationwide furor. Prosecutors said that Mr. Karim, a video engineer for The Associated Press who had made a documentary film about the hawks, apologized for yelling at Ms. Zahn and her children.
by Sabrina Tavernise (NYT)
Personal Note by MW: I spoke to Lincoln twice since his release. He is a bit subdued, but basically sounded philosophical. He said that throughout the ordeal he kept reminding himself that his lot was still better than that of the horses that pull carriages for tourists through Central Park.
But his job is in jeopardy at the AP. For now he has been suspended. For those of you who have any friends high up at the AP, now is the time to write letters vouching for Lincoln's character and stating your opinion that he meant no harm. That is certainly my opinion.
Now AN APOLOGY: I've got a pretty stringent deadline for a new Afterward for a new edition of Red-tails in Love that is coming out in April. When this crisis began I scrapped the version I had almost completed. I plan to tell this story instead.
But I have to get to work and stop running around Fifth Avenue flapping my red wings as a "Red Hawk" nee Cardinal. I hope someone comes along to spearhead a letter-writing campaign for Lincoln. And perhaps someone will help organize a Legal Defense Fund.
Meanwhile I hope everyone keeps coming to the Vigils until we see the spikes in place. I am turning off my e-mail connection for most of the day, finding a red-hawk replacement and going back to my quiet life as a writer. [I'll check my e-mail at the end of each day. If you want to take charge of any initiative to help Lincoln, please e-mail me and put I VOLUNTEER in the subject line.]
I'll be back soon, and if something exciting happens, I'll post it immediately.
Warm regards to all supporters and thanks to the hundreds of you who have written me. I've tried to answer all mail, if only with a word or two.
PS Pale Male and Lola are still sighted in the park every day.
News Catch-up on the Nest-Removal crisis:
LINCOLN KARIM: Yesterday at about 4 pm, just a few minutes before I arrived at the rally to flap around in the red bird suit, two plain-clothes officer arrested a beloved member of our hawkwatcher community, Lincoln Karim. They handcuffed him and took him off in an unmarked black car.
Lincoln is the guy with the huge, the humongous black telescope with video-screen many of you have seen at the model-boat pond. For the last three years he has been following the comings and goings of Pale Male and his various true loves, taking fantastic photographs many of which appear on this website.
Lincoln gives out pictures of the hawks to children, and answers the endless questions people see fit to ask. [Why are you doing this? How much does this telescope cost?etc.] In fact, the answer to the first question is easy: Lincoln loves these birds, especially Pale Male. He considers the light hawk to be "the perfect creature on earth."
Lincoln takes groups of kids from local schools for walks in the park, pointing out birds and always keeping an eye out for Pale Male. He also protects the ducks and ducklings that live in the model-boat pond. If you saw a specially built platform in the south west part of the pond where the ducklings took refuge every day shortly after they hatched, that was built for them by Lincoln.
Lincoln was especially distressed by the destruction of Pale Male's nest on December 7 [a date that shall live in infamy]. He held every resident of the building [except Mary Tyler Moore, his friend and an indefatigable defender of the Fifth Ave. Hawks] responsible for the nest's removal Often he would shout "BRING BACK THE NEST" whenever he saw people emerge from 927 Fifth Ave. In fact, all of us shouted the same many many times. But Lincoln shouted louder, more angrily. And on several occasions came too close to one of the building's famous residents, Paula Zahn, as she was walking with one of her kids. The child was frightened by the angry tone of voice, something I know Lincoln never intended. He only wanted the nest restored. But a complaint was filed, leading to the arrest yesterday
I went down to the 19th Precinct stationhouse nearby [on 67th St bet. 3rd and Lex. with another very famous resident of the building, Mary Tyler Moore. I have come to know her over the years, thanks to the Fifth Avenue hawks. I once appealed to her in desperation when the nest was threatened, and she has always been an ally and a stauch defender of Pale Male.
She and I and her husband Robert Levine [a cardiologist] thought we could see Lincoln and let him know that his friends were supporting him. Unfortunately they didn't let us in to see him, but an officer, last name Lynch, promised to deliver Lincoln the message. I could see that many of the policemen clustering around recognized Mary Tyler Moore, and I hoped this would help Lincoln in some way.
He was photographed, fingerprinted, etc. at the 19th precinct, kept there for a few hours, and then sent down to 100 Centre Street, near City Hall, where he would be arraigned before a judge and then released on bail. That was supposed to happen at 10 am this morning. It was postponed until 2 pm.
Filmaker [Pale Male] Frederic Lilien, another friend of Lincoln's, is down there at this moment with bail money, He will help Lincoln get home. Lee Stinchcomb, and other friends are there too.It is now 2:30 pm and I know cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse. So I'm still waiting to hear. We hope this story has a happy outcome. In the meanwhile, there will be a LINCOLN KARIM DEFENSE FUND people can contribute to. This will be announced soon on this website.
NEWS ON THE NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT RESTORING THE SPIKES
An agreement was made yesterday between the building management and the various Audubon Societies assuring that the spikes will be restored. [LOUD CHEERS.]It is now a matter of time. We want to make sure that the spikes are restored WITHOUT DELAY. Indeed, ropes and a scaffold are already in place at the building, and it looks like action is imminent. However, the platform went up today for the purpose of measuring--it appears that the building insists that a guard rail and some catchment device for keeping debris from falling from the nest. [LOUD SIGHS-- VERY LITTLE DEBRIS FALLS FROM THE NEST]
Maybe the spikes will finally go up tomorrow, But until that moment, in spite of big headlines proclaiming victory for Pale Male and Lola, our vigils across the street from the Hawk Building will go on.
12/14/04 -- Below, today's story in the New York Times.
I'm a bit sorry I sounded so cynical when I was quoted. Yet I'm sincerely afraid that people who could do such a heartless and arrogant thing as take down an active hawk nest [Believe me, they knew it was active!]can't really be trusted to do what they say they'll do. But public pressure like the rallies might do the trick that reasonable negotiations will not:
Birds' Nest Will Be Saved, if Co-op Architect Says Yes
December 14, 2004
By THOMAS J. LUECK
A baronial Fifth Avenue co-op building at the center of an
uproar over its destruction of a red-tailed hawks' nest
last week agreed yesterday to try to help the hawks rebuild
in the same spot overlooking Central Park - if an architect
"We had a very constructive meeting," said John Flicker,
president of the National Audubon Society, who, along with
three Audubon colleagues and city and state officials, met
for 90 minutes with the president of the co-op's board, its
management agent and a building engineer.
"It's a much better situation today than it was yesterday,"
said Mary Tyler Moore, a resident of the co-op, at 927
Fifth Avenue, who has joined bird lovers and naturalists
from across the nation in protesting the hawks' eviction.
Still, the negotiations yesterday, part of which took place
on the roof of the 74th Street co-op as the most famous of
the Fifth Avenue hawks, Pale Male, circled overhead,
provided only a first step toward ending a conflict that
some say requires speedy resolution.
"Good progress doesn't sound good enough to me," said Marie
Winn, a Manhattan author whose 1998 book on Pale Male and
his offspring was the basis of a public television
documentary. (Channel 13 in Manhattan said yesterday that
it had scheduled a rebroadcast of the film tonight at 8.)
Ms. Winn was among more than 100 protesters who gathered
opposite the co-op building yesterday afternoon, as they
have for days - chanting, encouraging drivers to honk their
horns and creating a ruckus rarely seen along one of
Manhattan's most elegant residential streets.
"I have suspected all along that what the co-op wants is to
stall just long enough so the hawks will leave," she said.
"And that could happen any day."
The saga of Pale Male and his mate, Lola, who have fed
happily on pigeons and rats in Central Park, reproduced
prodigiously from their roost above a 12th-story cornice,
and ultimately captivated the attention of much of the
city, came amid unavoidable questions of what the hawks
themselves will choose to do.
"We haven't been able to talk to the hawks, and they may
have their own plans," said Adrian Benepe, the city's
commissioner of parks, who attended the meeting yesterday
at 927 Fifth Avenue. Nonetheless, he said the negotiations
had yielded "good progress from the point of view that the
building really isn't legally obligated to do anything."
Besides Ms. Moore, residents of the co-op include the
newscaster Paula Zahn, whose husband, Richard Cohen, is
president of the board; Bruce Wasserstein, the Wall Street
dealmaker; and several other executives at the highest
levels of finance.
Before the hawks' nest was taken down last Tuesday, some
residents had complained that the birds left the bloody
carcasses of their prey on the roof and sidewalk, and their
nest created a safety hazard as parts of it fell to the
sidewalk, threatening pedestrians.
The nest was built in 1993 by Pale Male, who foraged twigs
and small branches from Central Park and assembled them on
a network of metal spikes that had been placed on the
12th-floor cornice to discourage pigeons. The spikes, which
were also removed last week, had the unintended effect of
holding a red-tailed hawk nest measuring eight feet across
in place for a decade.
Mr. Flicker said a central question addressed at the
meeting yesterday was whether the spikes would be restored
so Pale Male and Lola could rebuild in the same place, or
whether a new platform or box would be constructed and
provide a sturdy base for a new nest on the co-op's roof.
The Audubon Society officials insisted that the spikes be
restored, and that anything else would be inadequate. Their
position on the arcane question of how to provide a safe
habitat for red-tailed hawks at the center of large city
was buttressed by experts.
The neoclassical 12th-floor cornice adopted by Pale Male,
despite its ornate acanthus leaf detailing, made it "a
classic red-tail cliff site," which resembled the hawks'
habitat in the Western states and was far more attractive
than tree limbs or a wood platform, said John A. Blakeman,
an Ohio biologist who has researched the habitats of hawks
"They will absolutely reject a box," he said.
to Mr. Benepe and Mr. Flicker, Mr. Cohen seemed agreeable
to returning the metal spikes to the cornice. They said
participants in the meeting saw clearly that the hawks were
trying to rebuild, since they had left several twigs and
branches on the cornice, even though the foraged material
would be blown away in a strong wind.
But they said Mr. Cohen insisted on consulting the co-op's
architect before making any commitment. No deadline was
set, and no follow-up meeting was scheduled.
"This needs to be done promptly," Mr. Flicker said. "The
longer you wait, the longer the risk to the birds."
"We wanted them to say the spikes will go up," Mr. Flicker
said, adding that he hoped hear the co-op's decision in the
Yesterday, Pale Male and Lola were a clear presence over
the east side of Central Park, circling above the co-op and
the park's picturesque model-boat pond and, in Lola's case,
casually devouring a pigeon on a tree limb as dozens of
bird enthusiasts looked on.
Ms. Moore, who has shed the retinue of agents, public
relations specialists and others who normally surround
celebrities in proclaiming her support for the hawks,
emerged from 927 Fifth Avenue to answer questions from
"I just want to make sure that they take into consideration
what the birds' instincts are going to be," she said.
"I don't object to anything," Ms. Moore added. "I don't
care if they hang a nest from my living room window, that's
"I just want those hawks to be back in their natural
habitat and be peaceful."
Janon Fisher contributed reporting for this article.
Photo by ARDITH BONDI
This photo was taken at the Noon-5 Rally across the street from the Hawk Building on Dec 11th.
I'm the red "hawk" on the left in front. [OK, OK, I know it's a cardinal but that's all the costume shop had for rent.] And introducing a new character to my website, Allan Miller, my husband. He's holding up the big HONK 4 HAWKS sign behind the other bird, my friend Rebekah Creshkoff. [She's appears in Red-tails in Love too. Look her up in the index].
You can get an idea of the extent of Saturday's [12/11] rally here. I'd say there were 300 people there.
Here's today's [12/11/04 story from the front page of the Daily News:
A word before reading the article because the situation is more complicated than it seems. Most of us are opposed to the idea of putting up a nesting box on the roof. For one thing, the building's super, Hugo Navarette, lives in a small penthouse on the roof, and having the hawks coexit on the same level with a human is dangerous for both, but especially the human.
We believe there is absolutely no advantage, either to the hawks or the building, to provide any other nesting site than the one they originally chose, the one above the middle 12th floor window, and under the great cornice protecting the nest from storms coming from the northeast --the prevailing storms that hit New York City.
The nest in its former location has posed no hazard whatsoever to passerbys below. That is an obfuscation -- a smoke-screen sent up by the building management. No one has ever been hit by sticks falling from the nest --- sticks dont really fall out of the nest; they are tightly wedged in. They have long wanted to get rid of the nest --we know this from Mary Tyler Moore and other building sources.
According to a conversation a few hours ago with E.J. McAdams, president of New York City Audubon Society [NYCAS], he now agrees that the restoration of spikes to the original nest site is the only plan NYCAS will support. If the spikes are restored, we are confident the hawks will rebuild.
There is a meeting planned tomorrow between various Audubon Society officers, park officials, a representative of the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] and the management of 927 Fifth Avenue. There is talk that Richard Cohen, head of the building's Board of Directors, will also attend. This meeting is what the News article mentions. We are more than eager to hear the outcome of that meeting. If the building is merely stalling for time, hoping that if the process takes long enough the hawks will relocate, that should become quickly apparent.
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Wing and a prayer
BY AUSTIN FENNER and TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Saturday, December 11th, 2004
Pale Male soon could be flying home on the wings of victory.
A deal is in the works to return the red-tailed hawk and his mate to their posh perch overlooking Central Park, the Daily News has learned.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other bird protectors expect to meet with the managers of 927 Fifth Ave. next week to discuss building a sturdy rooftop roost for the hawks.
The co-op board tore down Pale Male and galpal Lola's nest from a 12th-floor cornice on Tuesday, claiming it posed a safety hazard.
But now building bigwigs admit they may have mishandled the eviction of the longtime tenants.
"We did not fully appreciate the importance of these birds to the people in the city," said co-op board president Richard Cohen, a developer married to CNN newswoman Paula Zahn.
The decision to dismantle the nest was made at the building's annual meeting - which Zahn did not attend - after an engineer reported it had gotten too large and could fall.
Managers got permission from the feds to take down the aerie, since there were no hatchlings in it, but feathers still flew over the avian eviction.
Bird watchers have been holding nightly protests in front of the building, and actress Mary Tyler Moore, who owns an apartment there, has pledged her support.
Meanwhile, Cohen, Zahn and other residents are feeling the heat.
"There have been death threats," Cohen complained. "I have a 7-year-old son, and people were running up to him and threatening him and yelling at him, 'Bring back the nest!'
"There's enough angry, mean people out there who are making it miserable," he added.
Cohen said he's open to letting the celebrated birds take up residence at the building again, as long as it does not compromise safety.
The city's bird experts believe they have a solution: a rooftop tower, set back from the edge of the building so there's no danger of falling debris.
But they need to act fast.
"You need to do it early enough in the winter to allow them time to attach to the nest before courtship and nesting," said Chris Nadareski, a research scientist with the city Department of Environmental Protection.
Even if a rooftop enclosure is built, there's no guarantee Pale Male and Lola will flock to it, but their fans are hopeful.
"He's very territorial," New York City Audubon Society Director E.J. McAdams said yesterday. "He's going to stay in this area."
That was certainly the case yesterday, when Pale Male roosted on the 12th floor of 920 Fifth Ave. and Lola settled in atop 930 Fifth Ave.
Those who have heard about the homeless hawks' plight stopped by Central Park to peer through binoculars at the city's most famous birds.
"It's really sad," said Sylvia LeBlancq, a consultant who lives in lower Manhattan. "I wish Pale Male would move by us. Any building should be proud to have him as a resident."
LOLA LEAVING THE FIFTH AVENUE NEST [a few months before its destruction]
Photo by Lincoln Karim
12/11/04-TODAY'S FRONT PAGE ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
No Fighting the Co-op Board, Even With Talons
December 11, 2004
By THOMAS J. LUECK and JENNIFER 8. LEE
They gathered on Oct. 19 for a ritual known to thousands of
New York co-op owners, the annual meeting. The board
president, Richard Cohen, and his wife, the newscaster
Paula Zahn, threw open their second-floor apartment
overlooking Central Park for the occasion. Quickly, the
discussion focused on a huge and untidy red-tailed hawk,
known famously as Pale Male, which had been nesting on the
building's facade for a decade.
The building, 927 Fifth Avenue, is among the city's most
sumptuous - apartments behind the neo-Italian renaissance
facade occupy entire floors, or two, and are worth well
over $10 million. The roughly 10 people at the meeting
included Robert A. Belfer, the founder of Belco Oil & Gas
and a former director of the Enron Corporation; Dr. Robert
Schwager, a plastic surgeon with offices on the ground
floor; and Dr. Robert Levine, a Manhattan cardiologist who
is married to Mary Tyler Moore.
Some shareholders had long complained about Pale Male and
his mate, Lola, whose nest of twigs and small branches had
grown to eight feet across a cornice outside the building's
The hawks were hardly hygienic, preying on pigeons and
rats, sometimes dropping bloody carcasses on the roof or
sidewalk. And bird watchers were constantly looking up with
their cameras and high-powered binoculars.
The nest, board members said, had to go. There would be no
vote among shareholders. Several people familiar with the
discussions said it was Mr. Cohen who had headed the
effort, even though his wife had once proclaimed her
affection for the birds on television.
The building's management company, Brown Harris Stevens
Property Management, had warned of a public backlash. "We
told Richard it would be extremely controversial," said
Noreen McKenna, a Brown Harris Stevens agent who serves as
secretary to the board.
The story of Pale Male, how he came to live at one of
Manhattan's most exclusive addresses and then was sent
away, is one of wealth and fame meeting nature and
instinct, of an obscure international treaty researched and
clarified, and of anger among those who live in an elegant
building where, Ms. Moore now says, relations have become
Pale Male had adopted Central Park as his home and feeding
ground, had prospered for 11 years, siring 23 hawks, and no
one knows whether he will rebuild a nest and stay, or
simply fly away.
At the very least, his predicament serves as a reminder of
an immutable force, perhaps peculiar to New York City: the
power of a co-op board.
At the meeting, Dr. Levine stood up to object, but not on
his own behalf.
"Dr. Levine was vocal," recalled Dr. Schwager, who
described the Oct. 19 meeting. Neither he nor Dr. Levine is
on the board. "He said, 'I can tell you categorically that
Mary Tyler Moore is opposed to this.' "
Dr. Schwager joined in: "I said 'This will cause a major
commotion in New York if you do this.' "
Both doctors were right.
Since workers removed the nest
on Tuesday, dangling on a window-washing platform and
shoving Pale Male's carefully foraged twigs into garbage
bags, the building has been the focus of searing anger from
those around the city and nation who saw the hawk as an
emblem of raw nature and perseverance in a densely
populated urban setting. Bird lovers have camped outside,
held vigils and chanted in anger, occasionally joined by
Both Pale Male and Lola have been observed circling their
cornice, and landing with bits of twigs and tree branches
in what appeared to experts on the ground as a futile
attempt to rebuild. Their nest-building may be stymied
because metal spikes that held their previous nest in place
have also been removed.
Mr. Cohen, a real estate developer, spoke publicly about
the matter for the first time yesterday and defended the
co-op, on the corner of East 74th Street. "Every year this
became more problematic," he said of the nest, calling the
decision the result of a consensus and flatly denying he
had railroaded it through.
He called the eviction a "last resort" and said that board
members believed the birds would thrive elsewhere, and
quickly. "It takes a week to 10 days to rebuild a nest.
Trees fall in nature. They lose nests. They are resilient
Also yesterday, Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the state
Department of Environmental Conservation, said the agency
was working with the New York City Audubon Society to
protect the hawks and determining whether any state laws
had been violated.
The Audubon Society said that the co-op board has agreed to
meet with it on Monday to discuss options. Possibilities
include replacement of the spikes on the ledge or the
construction of a platform elsewhere on the building's
Last night, about 40 hawk supporters gathered in the rain
bearing photographs of the hawks and a placard that read
"Honk 4 Hawks." Ms. Moore, whose apartment is for sale for
$18.5 million, was skeptical about the prospects for an
amicable resolution. "These are not reversible type
people," she said of her fellow apartment owners. "They
just don't want the birds here."
Said Dr. Schwager, "This building is unbelievably
conservative and reserved. I think, should we all buy
lottery tickets, there is a better chance we would win."
The eviction of Pale Male was long in coming, and had been
tried once before. The hawk's longevity in his co-op nest
was due primarily to a federal environmental treaty, signed
by the United States, Canada, Russia, and other nations in
1918, that was intended to protect the habitats of several
species of migratory birds, including red-tailed hawks,
from poachers who sought birds for food or for their
The treaty, administered by the federal Fish and Wildlife
Service, was invoked in 1993 when the board of 927 Fifth
Avenue removed Pale Male's nest for the first time. The
removal came only months after the hawk had built the nest
on his 12th-floor cornice, and his mate at the time had
tried unsuccessfully to hatch eggs.
Marie Winn, a bird watcher and author, whose 1998 book
about Pale Male and his offspring, "Red-Tails in Love,"
became the basis for a public television documentary, was
one of those who jumped to the hawks' defense in 1993.
"They put up a scaffolding and took the nest down in a
plastic bag," she said. "I got the workers to hand it over
to me. I put in my bicycle basket, and took it to a secret
place in the park."
Then, she said, she contacted officials of the Fish and
Wildlife Service, who concluded that removing the nest
violated the 1918 treaty.
The federal agency "put fear and trembling into their
hearts" at 927 Fifth Avenue, Ms. Winn said. Board members
at the co-op "promised to never remove it again, although
they have always wanted to," she said.
Their opportunity arrived in April 2003, when the federal
agency issued what it called a "clarification" to the
migratory bird treaty. Instead of a complete ban on the
removal or destruction of nests, it said the nests were
protected only when they were being used to hatch or raise
The law "does not contain any prohibitions that applies to
the destruction of a migratory bird nest alone (without
birds or eggs)," said a memorandum spelling out the rule.
Federal officials said this week that the clarification was
intended to ensure that different species are treated
uniformly, and some of the birds, like robins, simply
abandon their nests after their chicks are raised.
On Dec. 9, 2003, Ms. McKenna submitted an application, with
photographs, to the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove
Pale Male's nest. "The nest has caused deterioration of the
building's canopy from bird droppings," she wrote. "In
addition, the hawks bring live prey to the nest where it is
killed and torn for feeding." She said the result was a
danger of contamination, Lyme disease and West Nile virus.
The application included a report by James E. McCosker, a
building engineer who inspected the building. He described
the nest as "massive," and said it posed a danger to
pedestrians because it was directly above the building's
"This ain't a regular nest," Mr. McCosker said in an
interview. "How would you like to have a bird's nest 8 feet
long and 3 feet wide overhanging the edge of the building
by a foot?"
On April 30, Fish and Wildlife Service officials responding
in writing, saying that no permit was needed to remove the
"We had no knowledge that this was a famous pair of birds,"
said Diane Pence, the chief of the agency's division of
migratory birds for the northeastern states, in an
interview on Thursday.
"It was just an address in New York City to us," she said,
but added that the position of the agency would not have
been different if the nest was in a less prominent
Then came the October meeting, and finally, on Tuesday,
workers came to take the nest down.
Lincoln Karim, a 43-year-old engineer who has been among
the most diligent bird watchers in tracking Pale Male and
his offspring (at the Web site www.palemale.com), said he
saw it happen at 2:30 p.m.
After workers hung a window-washing style rigging from the
roof of 927 Fifth Avenue, "I thought maybe they were
checking masonry." he said. "Then I saw they were taking
the nest down and putting it into garbage bags."
He added, "I thought, 'I'm going to climb up ropes. I'm
going to stop them.' But I looked up and saw the nest was
gone. It was just gone."
Other than Ms. Moore and Dr. Schwager, residents of the 11
apartments in the building have declined to be interviewed,
among them Bruce Wasserstein, the Wall Street deal maker,
and Ms. Zahn, who had referred to Pale Male in a 2001
segment of "The Edge with Paula Zahn," on Fox News Channel.
She was interviewing two naturalists, one of whom commented
on the problems associated with people feeding wild
animals, and Ms. Zahn seemed eager to offer a glimpse of
her personal life. "Well, guess what lives on my building,
you two, a red-tailed hawk," she said. "It eats rats and
pigeons on our block."
"I like the hawk," she said. "I am just not going to feed
But these days Pale Male is a sore subject among the
residents of 927 Fifth Avenue. Mr. Cohen said Ms. Moore had
not even mentioned the hawk when they had a friendly
conversation at a recent party. She said she had been too
upset to talk about it. The topic is largely off-limits
when residents cross paths, she said. "We are playing the
game of the elephant in the middle of the living room."
Janon Fisher contributed reporting for this article.
HERE'S ONE THING TO DO
[NOTE: MAKE SURE YOUR COMMENT IS PASSIONATE, BUT POLITE. BEING ANGRY OR ABUSIVE MIGHT BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.]
The following url [YOU CAN'T CLICK ON IT. PLEASE COPY AND PASTE}is available to anyone wishing to send comments to Paula Zahn at CNN. Those reading newspaper stories regarding the
destruction of the Pale Male nest will recall that Zahn's husband,
Richard Cohen, is the head of the co-op board at 927 Fifth Avenue.
Mary Tyler Moore has been quoted to blame Cohen primarily for the
removal of the nest.
12/10/04 -- A great article and Summary of articles from former NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern
[Note: The links did not come through here, somehow. But you can easily find the articles by going to each newspaper's or magazine's website.]
The following is Henry Stern's newsletter:
The Arrogance of Wealth:
5 Ave Coop Evicts Hawks
After 11 Years on Ledge;
Pres. Cohen Won't Talk
By Henry J. Stern
December 10, 2004
Most of you know by now of the destruction of the nest of the red-tailed hawk,
Pale Male, and his mate, Lola.
For eleven years, the hawks had nested on a ledge on the 12th floor of 927
Fifth Avenue (near 74th Street). They raised their offspring there, bringing
food to their chicks until the young ones were able to go out on their own.
The hawks became popular figures. The idea of wild birds surviving in a most
urban environment captured the imagination of adults and children all over
the world. Books and articles were written about the hawks, a film, "Pale
Male," was made, and another movie is on the way. Sightseers traveled long
distances to get a glimpse of the striking birds and their unusual habitat.
A few days ago, all this was destroyed by a contractor at the order of the co-op
board. The pigeon-repelling spikes that had secured the nest were removed.
After finding their home gone, the two adult hawks circled the wreckage,
bringing twigs to try to rebuild it. But without the protective spikes, the twigs
were blown away.
To put it mildly, the public and the press were distressed. A New York
Times editorial sums up the case for the red-tails in persuasive prose. We cite
its closing lines: "The hawks have gone out of their way to learn to live with us.
The least the wealthy residents of 927 Fifth Avenue could have done was
learn to live with the hawks."
The Daily News' editorial (scroll to third editorial) came in the form of a letter
from Pale Male. Link to it to get a bird's eye view of the problem.
"We have heard all sorts of explanations as to why we were forced into the
ranks of the homeless. We suspect it was simply that our snooty neighbors on
Fifth Ave. were offended by our bodily functions and the occasional pigeon
tartare that would fall to the sidewalks."
Here are links to this week's stories, editorials and columns about the birds'
plight. It is interesting that everyone who has written on the subject appears to
be on the side of the red-tails. No one stuck up for the board's action.
* Times: "New York Celebrities Evicted on Fifth Ave., Feathers and All," by
Thomas J. Lueck, 12/8, ppB1, 3; "Newly Homeless Above 5th Ave., Hawks
Have Little to Build On," by Thomas J. Lueck, 12/9, ppB1, 11; "Squatting
Rights," editorial (cited above), 12/9, pA40
* Post: "5th Ave. roost roust," by Gersh Kuntzman, Braden Keil and Letitia
Rowlands, 12/9, p2; "Poultry 'in motion'," by Mark Bulliet, Braden Keil and
Heidi Singer, 12/10, p10; "Pale Male dealt a nesty blow," by Dr. Keith L.
Bildstein, 12/10, p11; "Flip the bird to Paula and the rest of those hoity-toity
residents," column by Andrea Peyser, 12/10, p11. Her column is exquisite; far
more pointed than what we have written.
* News: "Homeless hawks: Booted from 5th Ave. nest," by Austin Fenner and
Tracy Connor, 12/9, p3; "Beyond the pale," editorial (cited above - scroll to
third editorial), 12/9, p54; "Suite Revenge," by Austin Fenner and Tracy
Connor 12/10, p6
* Sun: "Fifth Avenue Hawk Loses Nest," New York Desk, 12/8, p5; "Bird
Lovers Chant For the Return Of Hawks' Nest," by Richard Pyle (AP), 12/10, p2
* Newsday: "City Hawks evicted from Fifth Avenue nest," by Richard Pyle
(AP), 12/7, not published, on website; "NYC Hawks Seek Nest Workers Took
Down," by Verena Dobnik (AP), 12/8, not published, on website
Our feelings on this matter are strong. The people who live in this luxurious
co-operative are among the most privileged in the city. They should thank
God for their wealth and good fortune. They should not destroy the home of a
living family of another species.
A sad aspect of this case is the absence of any sense of shame by the co-op
residents or board. Their chairman, Richard Cohen, refuses to speak to the
media. Even though his wife, Paula Zahn, is a television reporter, he holds
himself above the press, and feels no need to explain his board's action. His
distinguished surname, Cohen, signifies descent from a priestly caste. He
does not live up to that fine name by his apparent disregard for living
creatures. Fortunately there is still time to correct the problem, and we
urgently hope for peace for both the hawks and the tenants.
The co-op's lawyer, Aaron Schmulewitz, said that the co-op's engineers found
the nest was "a hazard that probably violated city regulations." No city agency,
however, appears to have complained about it.
The charge against the hawks is that, after they finish eating, they drop pigeon
carcasses on Fifth Avenue (heaven forbid). The building is well-staffed with
doormen — can't they remove the dead pigeons?
Technically, the building's action is within the law. It would have been against
federal law if it had been taken while the chicks or eggs were within the nest.
But late fall is not the season for reproduction, so there was a window of
opportunity for the unscrupulous board to destroy the nest.
Nonetheless, it is against a moral law — that we should care for less fortunate
creatures and have reasonable regard for other forms of life. And moral law
does not change with the seasons. In the case of Pale Male and his mate,
the two red-tailed hawks have brought pleasure and pride to so many New
Yorkers and visitors from around the world, that the wanton destruction of their
home by a bunch of selfish millionaires is a disgraceful act. (We know they
are millionaires because of the value of their apartments, not counting their
other real estate, stocks, bonds, fine furniture, jewelry and cosmetics.) These
people have been blessed in life. For their representatives on the board to
display the selfishness and insensitivity we have seen this week is living proof
that material wealth and kindness to others are qualities that are often poles
A well-known tenant in the building, Mary Tyler Moore, has spoken out
against the board's action. "I can't imagine the lack of empathy that exists in
these people's hearts," she said.
We call on city officials and people of conscience to express themselves on
this matter. We believe that most New Yorkers feel that what has happened
here is a sin, or at least a trespass, against nature. Anyone who wants to go
on record with those sentiments, or the opposite viewpoint, is invited to e-mail
us, and we will report on how you feel.
Our hope is that, in this holiday season, the directors of the co-op will soften
their hearts and allow these distinguished residents of 927 Fifth Avenue to
resume their peaceable occupancy. Let their fine building be a shining
example of peace between species. Let 927 symbolize kindness, not cruelty.
photo by LINCOLN KARIM
12/6/04 -- PALE MALE'S LATEST HANGOUT
As you're casting your eye around Pale Male's known hangouts on Fifth Avenue rooftops -- the Nest Bldg, of course, the Octagonal Bldg, the Stovepipe Bldg, Linda's balconies 1 through 6, even the Carlyle tower, you may be missing one of his favorite spots -- immortalized in the picture above by Pale Male's greatest fan, Lincoln Karim. [He's the owner of the huge black telescope with a video screen you'll often see at the Model Boat-Pond.] The new hangout: a super-tall crane behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our hero is the gleaming white shape at the top of the criss-cross beams, a bit obscure in the reducted picture to the left. In the real photo --ask to see it when you run into Lincoln, or click on the link to Lincoln's website below -- the hawk is spectacularly visible!
Just in case you thought Pale Male's fans were all bipedal, a photo taken on 12/3/04 by LINCOLN KARIM, the owner of the gigantic telescope seen almost every day at the Model-boat Pond, proves otherwise.
The following essay was written as a class exercise by one of the students I took to see the feeders being filled on Tuesday, November 9. [See report below]. I wanted to include it on my website not only because it says such nice things about me [Though of course I liked hearing them] but because his reaction to the park moved me. Here's what I wrote to him:
Dear Sang Hyuk,
I liked your paper "Returning to Childhood Once Again" very much. It is so informative and accurate and so filled with enthusiasm and genuine emotion. The ending brought tears to my eyes. That is one of my goals as a writer, to restore in my readers, even for a brief moment, some of the wonder and curiosity of childhood. Thank you for writing such a fine paper. With your permission, I would like to put it on my website.
Yes yes yes, he replied by e-mail. So here is Sang Hyuk's paper:
Photo by KANAMI MILENKOVIC
Sang Hyuk, between teacher Naomi Machado, and me, is second from the left
Returning to Childhood Once Again
by Sang Hyuk Kim
November 9th, Tuesday, we went to Central Park with Marie Winn, who is a journalist and the author of the book, Red-Tails in Love. It was great that I could spend time with a person who has had an impact on other people in New York though her writing. Marie Winn was such a kind and warm person. And also I learned a lot of things from her enthusiasm and love of birds and Central Park.
I met Marie Winn about ten minutes earlier than my other classmates. Even though I had not intended to arrive earlier, certainly it was an advantage for me because I was able to talk with Marie Winn and the regulars who come to Central Park every Tuesday to feed birds in the Ramble. The regulars comprise mostly elderly people who have retired from their work and seemed to find fun volunteering such as feeding birds in the park. Commonly, young people such as students can’t come to Central Park at eleven in the morning. The regulars gave me a big smile, and asked me about our class. They were especially interested in the fact that all my classmates were reading the book Red-Tails in Love. Their attitude was so amiable, so that’s why I felt comfortable with the regulars although I only met them for the first time when Marie introduced me to them. And also Marie looked very excited about meeting our class and having a chance to share her knowledge about what goes on in Central Park. Then, when the class arrived, she fulfilled her expectation of meeting with our class through greeting the students one by one. After she listened to all of our names, we were able to move into Central Park.
When we were moving toward the Ramble, all of a sudden, Marie pointed out one of the trees that was planted right beside the path. She said that the tree would be the sanctuary of a long-eared owl soon. Marie said that one day she saw the owl that had really long ears like a rabbit. Actually, they are not ears even though they look like ears. They are feathers. She said on weekends, a lot of Bird-Watchers and photographers hang around there to see the long-eared owl, and Marie imitated what the long-eared owl did last time. She closed her eyes, and then half opened her right eye, and moved her head from right to left and from left to right very slowly. I could not help myself and I burst out laughing when I saw long-eared owl Marie. In addition, she mentioned her next book, about Central park in the night. Of course, the long-eared owl’s story will be one of most important parts in the book. I’m already looking forward to reading her new story about what is happening at night in Central Park.
Both Marie and we were very talkative while we were going to the Ramble. We continued asking questions curiously, and she continued explaining willingly. Near the Ramble I could see a group of people who were talking to each other and were busy doing something. They were the Regulars who I had met before my class arrived. They were preparing to feed the birds in the Ramble. At that time, when I saw that each person held plastic bags, I didn’t realize what they were for. However, I understood as soon as I met them again at the feeding station in the Ramble even though I was surprised by what they brought. The bags were for the birds. The regulars carry the birds’ lunch to the Ramble every week. After we exchanged short greetings with the Regulars, we made our way into the Ramble.
The Ramble is a kind of mysterious place. Everyone says that it’s very easy to get lost in the Ramble, and that is obviously true. I have been to the Ramble several times but still I was not used to recognizing a direction there. I fact, I failed one hundred percent trying to find the right direction in the Ramble. I always came out from the Ramble where I did not want to be. I wanted to go to the northern side through the Ramble, but I always found myself next to the Boat House. What a tricky place. There are both possibilities; one is that I have really bad sense of direction and the other is that the person who made the Ramble is a really smart person. There is another funny joke about the Ramble that Marie told: there are a lot of gay people in the Ramble, especially, at night. So at night, that area is very dangerous especially for males, and usually women say that they can protect straight men because at least gay men are not interested in females, so it is safe for women. I was laughing, but I determined not to come to the Ramble again by myself.
When we arrived at the feeding station, there were some people milling around there. Some were taking pictures, and some were preparing to feed the birds. They brought three or four kinds of seeds, and fat. “Is that fat? For birds?” was my reaction. In fact, I was really surprised by what they brought. Because giving fat to birds seemed totally weird for me. What kinds of birds like to eat fat? Even though one of the regulars said that woodpeckers like eating fat, I was half in doubt about that fact. But it was true. Over and over, woodpeckers’ coming to have some fresh fat for lunch convinced me that the regulars never told a lie. The regulars started to work filling up the feeding bags with seeds, and putting the fat in the knitted baskets. I was impressed with the tools such as a pole that is for taking the feeding bags off the trees and putting them back up, and feeding bags that are made of many different materials, such as empty plastic containers, and netted narrow bags. The amateur inventors made all that equipment to feed birds with love. I was able to watch many kinds of birds that didn’t care how many people were at the feeding station. The feeding station was a convention center for representatives of humanocratic and bird-blican parties.
Something happened in the Ramble that hadn’t happened for 25 years. I had never seen a woodpecker in the wild before I saw one in the Ramble. When we went to find the old feeding Station, unbelievably, the woodpecker appeared right under my nose. It had a really clear red-color head, and it was much bigger than I had imagined. Marie said that that was a Red-bellied Woodpecker and she complimented me on my good vision. It was a big event for me. I couldn’t believe how many kinds of birds we can see in this big city. The Ramble is such a Treasure Island for New Yorkers, and that forced me to determine to keep the park in great condition so the birds will never want to leave this place.
The climax happened around the Boat Pond. Nobody doubts that we desired to see the famous Red-tailed Hawk, Pale Male. Tenzin had been singing a serenade to Pale Male all day. When we talked with Marie about a Blue Jay and its singing, our dream came true. A Red-Tailed Hawk flew over the Boat Pond. It was white, and it was obviously Pale Male. We shouted with elation. Lucky us! What an amazing moment that was. Actually, I had seen the hawks before in Central Park but not at close distance. I believe that Pale Male has a really special ability that makes people happy. Even Marie said she hadn’t seen Pale Male for a while at close distance, so we were really lucky and so was she. Even though Pale Male showed us his tremendous appearance for few seconds, it was great enough to adorn our trip with a dramatic finale.
I really appreciate Naomi making a great opportunity for us to enjoy birds in the microcosmic nature, and Marie Winn explaining what goes on Central Park and sharing her respected knowledge about birds, even though it was a chilly day. I learned a lot of things from Naomi and Marie. Also our time in Central Park reminded me when I was interested in everything in my childhood. I hope to always keep my eyes on Central Park with love. Forever.
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
This photo and the two following are the most recent shots of the Fifth Avenue Hawks. Here we see Lola, great hawk Mom of recent years, flying with legs extended downward, a typical pose as breeding season approaches. The photo was taken on Thanksgiving day, November 25, 2004.
11/26/04 - Lola on the Stovepipe #2 Building
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
THANKSGIVING, 2004, Pale Male, Lola, [with legs extended] and one of the 2004 kids
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
Photo by ARDITH BONDI
11/26/04 -- As Tom Fiore [well-known to readers of Red-tails in Love] stopped to check out the birds at the Evodia Field feeding station, he noticed an unexpected passenger on the rear fender of his bike. Sharp-eyed photographer [and regular birdwatcher] Ardith Bondi, captured the moment.
Naomi Machado, me, and other Early Birders at the Stone Arch on 11/17,04, at 7:15 a.m. Photo by Sang Hyuk Kim
A few weeks ago I received an intriguing e-mail:
Dear Marie Winn,
My class in the Language Immersion Program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College has just started to read your wonderful book, Red-Tails in Love. We are all fascinated by your writing about the birds and Central Park in general, and I wondered if you could recommend a birder who would be able to take us birdwatching; we cannot possibly read your book without exploring the park and the Rambles first-hand.
There are 24 adult immigrants from all over the world in my class, ranging from 18 to 40+ years in age. Our program helps them to improve their academic skills so that they will be prepared to take courses in their major in a CUNY college. They speak and understand English, their second or third language, very well. The class meets from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Friday, and I would prefer, if possible, to go to Central Park during class time.
I would really appreciate it if you could recommend someone who could take us birdwatching. And thanks again for writing such an engaging and exciting book.
How could I resist such a letter? If this class was devoting their entire time to my book, the least I could do was take them birdwatching myself! I sent them the following response:
Dear Naomi., I have an idea. Starting in November, every Tuesday at noon a small group of birders [I'm one of them] fill the feeders in the park. That might be fun for your class to come and see. There are always quite a few birds there and the feeding station is in the Ramble. Does that sound like a possibility to you? Cheers, Marie Winn
She answered almost immediately:
My class was thrilled to hear about your generous suggestion - yes please, we would love to come to see you fill the feeders in the Ramble.
And so it happened that Naomi Machado and almost all of her students [those that weren't in bed with the flu] arrived at the Evodia Field Feeding Station on Tuesday, November 9th at noon, just as the feeding squad was beginning to fill the feeders.
The students came from 15 different countries: Colombia, Egypt, Tibet, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Korea, Hong Kong [Is that a separate country?]Poland, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Vietnam, Japan, Honduras, China -- an awesomely diverse group. And amazingly, they all arrived with binoculars for their birdwatching expedition. [Their teacher, Naomi Machado, had stopped at the Dana Center and borrowed them from the Central Park Conservancy].
Most exciting of all [at least for me] was the teacher's and students' enthusiasm for and detailed knowledge of a subject that is understandably close to my heart: my book. They had devoted 25 hours a week during a three-week period to studies of the stories and characters and places depicted in Red-tails in Love. They studied vocabulary found in the book, they had dictation exercises from the book. Indeed, I soon discovered that they knew my book a lot better than I did! [Well, it has been almost ten years since I began writing it--and seven years since its publication.]
Every few days they had a quiz about different aspects of the book. Sample question: "What predicament did Tom Fiore find himself in, and how did the birdwatchers help him get out of it?" I would have flunked that quiz, for I had completely forgotten [repressed the memory of?] the terrible episode that had traumatized Tom's family and friends in the the Central Park birdwatching community a few years earlier: when Tom and three other birdwatchers who had gone on a birding trip to Colombia were kidnapped by a group of notorious guerillas. Since the guerrillas accused the birding foursome of being American spies [after all they had spying equipment, binoculars and recording devices [for capturing bird song],in their possession] the Central Park birders sent evidence to the kidnappers that Tom and his friends really were birdwatchers. My book describing Tom's birding prowess was one of the important pieces of evidence.
What excitement set in when Tom Fiore himself arrived at the Evodia Field Feeding station. The kids clustered around him, asking questions. Alexandra, a young woman from Colombia, made a moving apology to Tom for his treatment by some of her countrymen. He assured her that he bore the country and its citizens no ill will.
At the Feeding Station the students were also excited to meet Norma Collin, another important Regular in my book. They questioned George Muller, the man who built the feeders, about how he puts them together. They were eager to meet other people there who had appeared in the book -- Elliot, Lee, Murray, and others.
Without a doubt the students were most interested in catching a glimpse of the hero of my tale, the now-legendary Pale Male. Tenzin, a beautiful young woman from Tibet, was more than eager. "I'm in love with Pale Male," she declared.
After spending some time watching Lloyd Spitalnik and his loyal feeder squad put up the home made feeders, we set off to hunt for the hawk pair. I was not optimistic. While it is easy to get a sighting of the Fifth Avenue Redtails during the breeding season when they spend most of their time near the nest, by November they could be almost anywhere in the park. The odds of our being in the right place at the right time were slim.
We wandered around the Ramble, keeping our ears tuned for sounds of noisy bluejays or crows that might indicate a nearby hawk. But the park was strangely quiet. After visiting the Azalea Pond, Willow Rock, the Swampy Pin Oak, and the Rustic Summerhouse, all places the students knew well and had been quizzed about, we arrived at the end of our tour, the Model-boat Pond. From there the students and teacher were taking a Madison Avenue Bus back to their classroom at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building at 125th Street.
As we were looking at the empty nest with binoculars luck smiled upon us. A flock of pigeons came flying in from the north, and began frantically circling and wheeling around the pond just above where we were standing. And who should be herding the pigeons from above but Pale Male. He was flying low. The sun was shining on his white breast and red tail, and though the group only had a minute or two to feast their eyes on him before the flock and predator flew out of sight, it was long enough. We all jumped up and down and screamed and shouted. We had seen Pale Male. The day was complete
PS. A week later Naomi Machado and the remaining members of her class who hadn't been able to come the last time, as well as one repeat student, Sang Hyuk [who took the photograph above] showed up at 7 a.m at Strawberry Fields to join the Early Birders on their weekly bird walk. Now I REALLY believed they had become birdwatchers. I hope they
come again and again.
11/12/04 -- I received the following letter from Starr Saphir, one of Central Park's best birders, a few days ago:
Thought you'd like to know that on my Tues. N. End Central Park walk yesterday we had approx. 225 Am. White Pelicans glide over us, flying South!!! We were near the NE corner of the Great Hill at about 10:10 am when I saw a V of white birds coming over us. I expected Snow Geese, of course, but when I raised my binoculars, Dorothy poole and I shouted "white pelicans!" at the same moment. They were visible for several minutes, and you could see bill shape and color, as well as the almost complete wide black trailing edge to the wings. Actually, it looked complete at that distance. Ten or twelve minutes later we spotted a much larger (about 200 birds) flock of white birds in the sky. Although these were higher than the first flock, they were still identifiable as Am. White Pelicans. This is possibly the most exciting thing I've ever seen in Central Park! Eleven people were with me, including Dorothy and Lenore Swenson. If you want to post this information on your website, that would be great. If I don't see you, have a great winter.
11/6/04 NOT A SINGLE WARBLER -Yesterday's report, a harbinger of winter approaching:
[from Jack Meyer, who leads fine walks during the migration seasons, and by appointment all year --see link below]:
DATE: Saturday, 6 November 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS:Maria Kratounis, Mary Birchard, Marty Sohmer, Jack Meyer
REPORTED BY: Jack Meyer
Northern Shoveler (Several on Turtle Pond.)
Bufflehead (1m, 2f on Turtle Pond.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Feeders.)
Downy Woodpecker (Feeders.)
Hairy Woodpecker (Male, feeders.)
Black-capped Chickadee (Several, feeders.)
Tufted Titmouse (Several, feeders.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Several.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Ramble.)
Hermit Thrush (Ramble.)
Cedar Waxwing (Several, Evodia field.)
Fox Sparrow (Azalea Pond.)
Song Sparrow (Several.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Evodia Field.)
American Goldfinch (Several, feeders.)
CHARLES KENNEDY REMEMBERED BY PARK FRIENDS -- from the Daily News
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
of a bird lover
By ISAAC GUZMAN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, October 30th, 2004
The red-tail hawk watchers who frequent Central Park's model-boat pond have lost a regular.
Charles Kennedy, who was prominently featured in both the best-selling memoir "Red-Tails in Love" and the TV documentary "Pale Male," died Oct. 20 of complications from lymphoma. He was 67.
For the past decade, Kennedy followed the life of Pale Male, the red-tail who has reared 26 young hawks from a perch on the facade of a Fifth Ave. building. His gentle disposition made Kennedy a popular member of a devoted clique that tracks the behavior of Central Park's birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
"He was really an enchanting person," says Marie Winn, author of "Red-Tails in Love," which chronicled her adventures with the hawks, Kennedy and other park regulars. "He was fun and friendly and compassionate. In some way, he was almost like the spiritual father of everybody, while he himself was a little bit mysterious."
Kennedy, who lived in Morningside Heights, came to New York from Storm Lake, Iowa, in the early '60s to work as a child psychologist. In the '70s, he became a jeweler and later used an inheritance to pursue his love of nature as a photographer, poet, Natural History Museum volunteer and philanthropist.
Kennedy was obsessive about his favorite subjects, spending days and nights holding vigil, waiting to see young hawks take their first flight.
In the "Nature" special "Pale Male," which was shown nationwide on PBS just two days after his death, he is seen rescuing a fledgling hawk that accidentally flew into a building. WNET/Ch. 13 will rebroadcast "Pale Male" today at 6 p.m.
"I would call him from Iowa and he would say, 'Hey, I've got to hang up, brother, because I've got to get up at 4 a.m.,'" recalls sibling Larry Kennedy. "'I gotta be down at Fifth Ave. to watch the chicks jump.'"
In accordance with Kennedy's wishes, his friends and family plan to hold a memorial service next May in Central Park. It will be a chance to remember a man who strove to share his interests with everyone he met.
"He had a real romance with New York City," says friend Marsinay Smith. "At the Natural History Museum's butterfly vivarium, he loved it when the kids would come in and he could teach them. It pleased him that other people were being introduced to what he loved."
TWO SIGHTINGS OF A WILSON'S SNIPE - 11/1/04
The bird of the day is the Wilson's Snipe, a large and conspicuous shorebird that can somehow make itself almost invisible, as described by two birders in the report below. [The report is taken from e-birds].Another sighting of a Wilson's Snipe, at exactly the same time, was reported by another birder, Pat Pollock. She saw it in the North End of the park, in the Wildflower Meadow just across from the Loch. That would be almost two miles from the bird reported below. My conclusion: there had to be two Snipe in the park today.
DATE: Monday, 1 Nov 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: Ethel Hill and Rhoda Lee Bauch
REPORTED BY: Rhoda Lee Bauch
The Highlights of today's morning (8 to 10:30 a.m.) birding in Central
Wilson's Snipe (Maintenance Field 9:30 a.m.)--It landed on the field
fairly close to us and then remained absolutely still--so still that we
thought the bird had morphed into a crumpled piece of multi-colored
paper. Then we sighted the long bill, and within a few seconds the bird
resumed bird shape. We were almost overwhelmed by its closeness and its
beauty. Within a minute or so, it took off in the direction of Turtle
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (just North of Tanner Spring 8:15 a.m.)
Other birds sighted (not a complete list):
Pied-billed Grebe (Turtle Pond)
Northern Shoveler (Turtle Pond)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Turtle Pond island)
Eastern Phoebe (Turtle Pond island)
White-breasted Nuthatch (many)
Winter Wren (Gill/Azalea Pond) (very close and vocal)
Cedar Waxwing (Sparrow Ridge)
Charles Francis Kennedy
Beloved Central Park Figure Dies - 10/22/04
Two days ago, on October 20th, Charles Kennedy, one of the park's best known and most beloved Regulars succumbed to Lymphoma. A handsome and personable man, hero of my book Red-Tails in Love and of Frederic Lilien's film Pale Male, gifted photographer and poet, creator of fine jewelry in an earlier reincarnation, devoted volunteer at the American Museum of Natural History, lover of butterflies and praying mantises, hawks, owls and cicadas, of dogs large and small and most of all a true and loyal friend, Charles was a vibrant presence in Central Park for the last fifteen years.
I first met Charles in 1990. He was focusing on birds then, trying to find every bird featured in Donald Knowler's fine book Falconer of Central Park. He was there at the end of that year when a light-colored Red-tailed Hawk arrived in Central Park and gave every indication of settling in for a long stay, the first bird of prey to become a permanent resident in the park's history. That was when he and I first began to follow the amazing story of the Fifth Avenue Hawks.
A few years later Charles began to photograph the hawks, then owls and then other wild creatures he had come to love in the Park . All the while he continued to write his captivating haiku. Eventually he began to write little narratives about some of his wildlife adventures. He put together his stories, poems and photographs in binders and distributed them to his many friends. We all treasure them.
It's hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy. The only consolation is that none of us who knew and loved him will ever be in the park without him. His spirit will be there with us forever.
MIGRATION REPORT - 10/22/04
Hot off the presses: a great warbler, the Orange-crowned Warbler was sighted by Lloyd Spitalnik just a few hours ago, around 12:30 today. This rather drab bird, more often sighted in the fall than in the spring, is not exactly rare for Central Park. None the less it is not a common visaitor and always merits a special mention.
Yesterday, a surge of migration activity made for great birdwatching, as demonstrated by the report below:
DATE: Thursday, October 21st 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVED BY: Lloyd Spitalnik, Phil Jeffrey
Pied-billed Grebe (2, Turtle Pond)
Winter Wren (Several)
Northern Parula (Maintenance Field)
Cape May Warbler (Pinetum - same tree for past 11 days !)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Female, Evodia Field)
Pine Warbler (Turtle Pond)
Palm Warbler (Maintenance Field)
Field Sparrow (Oven)
Migration beginning to Dwindle - 10/12/04
A report of bird activity yesterday confirms the general impression that the migration is slowing down. More sparrows, fewer warblers. The beginn ing of the end. But why not make a stepping-stone out of a stumbling block? Think of what lies ahead: interesting waterfowl on the Reservoir. Renewed activity at the Bird Feeders. [Lloyd Spitalnik and his crew have alre4ady begun filling some feeders!] And OWLS.
DATE: Monday, 11th October 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: Lloyd Spitalnik, Phil Jeffrey
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Many)
Scarlet Tanager (Adult male still with a little red in the vent)
Chipping Sparrow (Many on Sparrow Rock)
Field Sparrow (Sparrow Rock)
Savannah Sparrow (Sparrow Rock)
White-crowned Sparrow (Maintenance Field, Pinetum)
FALL MIGRANTS STILL ABOUND
FROM E-BIRDS-- Reported by three of the biggest Big Gun Birders:
site = Central Park
date = 10/7/04
observers = David Speiser, Brian Hart, Pete Shen
Red-shouldered Hawk (Flyover Tupelo Field)
Great Black-backed Gull
Hairy Woodpecker (Delacorte Theatre)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Strawberry)
Blue-headed Vireo (Evodia Field)
Nashville Warbler (Pinetum)
Northern Parula (Strawberry)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Strawberry)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Strawberry)
Pine Warbler (Maintenance Field)
Blackpoll Warbler (Maintenance Field outskirts)
American Redstart (Balcony Bridge)
Ovenbird (Maintenance Field)
Common Yellowthroat (Maintenance Field)
Chipping Sparrow (Many locations)
Field Sparrow (Sparrow Rock)
American Goldfinch (Turtle Pond)
CENTRAL PARK BIRDERS THRILLED BY...A CHICKADEE? 10/5/04
Today was another fine fall migration day, with 11 species of warbler reported by a group of the park's best birdwatchers. Oddly enough a common bird was one of the most notable sightings during the last week: the Black-capped Chickadee. Chickadees have been rare in Central Park for almost a decade. Nobody knows why. Walking around the ramble and hearing their characteristic chick-a-chick-a-dee-dee-dee is probably more thrilling to Central Park Regulars these days than the sight of any warbler, thrush or wren.
DATE: Tuesday, October 5th 2004
LOCATION: Central Park NYC
OBSERVERS: Phil Jeffrey with David Speiser, Harry Maas, Lloyd Spitalnik,
Dick Gershon, Pete Shen, Brian Hart, Mary Birchard
Cooper's Hawk (2+ including one fly-over)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Prairie Warbler (Maintenance Field)
The Connecticut Warbler is almost never found in Central Park in the Spring. But this elusive little ground-feeder that likes to skulk in high underbrush does occasionally show up in the fall, almost always in September. The birdwatcher[s] who manage to discover it become park celebrities for the day. Two days ago, on Friday, September 24, that distinction fell upon Junko Suzuko, Pat Pollock and Cal Vornberger, three park Regulars.
They sent the following report to e-birds:
Site: North End Central Park
Date: Friday, 9/24/04
Observers: Junko Suzuki, Cal Vornberger, Pat Pollock
Reported by: Pat Pollock
Connecticut warbler seen and photographed at
southeastern end of Loch, path to Wildflower Meadow behind us, fallen logs in Loch where we found Conn. warbler spotted by Junko, then me and Cal called over and photographed it. Well observed on ground and flying between low saplings.
10/6/04 --Latest Bulletin: A bit of controversy has arisen about this sighting. Another fine birdwatcher photographed the bird and believes it was a Nashville Warbler, not a Connecticut. That's show business...I mean, that's birdwatching.
9/21/04 --MIGRATION NEWS
What a difference a single day can make! Two days ago Jack Meyer, one of the parks best birders, who leads fine bird walks during the Spring and Fall Migrations [and, on request, at all other times], led a small group of visitors and park Regulars through the Ramble. They saw some great birds, including 17 species of warbler. The very next day his total number of birds was barely more than the warbler count the day before. The migrants had moved on.
Below are his lists for the two days:
DATE: Monday, 20 September 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: Marty Sohmer, Jack Meyer
REPORTED BY: Jack Meyer
Broad-winged Hawk (2 flyovers, Maintenance Field, Cherry Hill.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Maintenance Field.)
House Wren (Maintenance Field.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Maintenance Field.)
Brown Thrasher (Several, Strawberry Fields, Maintenance Field.)
Northern Parula (Maintenance Field.)
Magnolia Warbler (Maintenance Field, Azalea Pond.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (Maintenance Field.)
Black-and-white Warbler (Maintenance Field.)
American Redstart (Maintenance Field.)
White-throated Sparrow (Small flock, Strawberry Fields.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Several.)
DATE: Sunday, 19 September 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS:Charlene & Lester Pannell (MO visitors), Rhoda Bauch, Ellen
Rockmuller, Barrie Raik, Sandy Paci, Karen Asakawa, Jackie Boardman, Seth
Rockmuller, Doug Schoppert, Jack Meyer
REPORTED BY: Jack Meyer
American Kestrel (Flyover Strawberry Fields.)
Spotted Sandpiper (Turtle Pond.)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2 or 3 Oven.)
Belted Kingfisher (Lake & Turtle Pond, same bird?)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Ramble.)
Downy Woodpecker (Balcony Bridge.)
Northern Flicker (Several.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (2, Hernshead.)
Eastern Phoebe (Turtle Pond.)
Blue-headed Vireo (Strawberry Fields, Ramble.)
Yellow-throated Vireo (Maintenance Field.)
Red-eyed Vireo (Strawberry Fields.)
Tufted Titmouse (2, Maintenance Field.)
House Wren (Strawberry Fields.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Maintenance Field.)
Swainson's Thrush (Ramble.)
Wood Thrush (Ramble.)
Brown Thrasher (A few.)
Nashville Warbler (Maintenance Field.)
Northern Parula (Several.)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (A few.)
Magnolia Warbler (A few.)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (Strawberry Fields.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Several, castle.)
Black-throated Green Warbler (A few.)
Prairie Warbler (Ramble.)
Palm Warbler (Willow Rock, castle.)
Bay-breasted Warbler (Strawberry Fields.)
Blackpoll Warbler (Willow Rock.)
Black-and-white Warbler (2 or 3.)
American Redstart (Several.)
Northern Waterthrush (Upper Lobe.)
Common Yellowthroat (Several.)
Wilson's Warbler (Maintenance Field.)
Scarlet Tanager (Hernshead.)
Lincoln's Sparrow (Strawberry Fields, north end, feeding on path leading
White-throated Sparrow (Several, Strawberry Fields.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (3 or 4 inoven.)
Baltimore Oriole (Maintenance field.)
Who is this outlandish creature? He [or she] DID arrive from space, though not outer space. It is a photograph by LINCOLN KARIM of a Sweetheart Underwing Moth, captured [on camera, not in reality] on Sept 2, 2004 with a close-focus lens
The Central Park [non-maternal] Mothers have been studying this particular family of moths - the Underwings, or Catacolinae, for many weeks. These particular moths are attracted to the strong-smelling sap oozing out of an English Oak at about 74th Street, near the park's East Drive, just a bit northwest of Pilgrim Hill. So far this summer the moth observers have identified 14 species of Underwings coming to rest and feed at this single tree. Besides being extravagantly beautiful moths, displaying either bright colored hind wings, or velvety dark black ones, the Catacolinae are also graceed with fantastic names. [There is much speculation about the state of sobriety of the lepidopterists who named them a century or more ago]. Below is a list of this summer's sightings:
The Girlfriend Underwing
Besides the official Catacolinae, the moth-ers sighted a Locust Underwing on 8/3/04. Though not a Catacolinae, it closely resembles the other "real" members of the family.
PHOTO BY LINCOLN KARIM
9/2/04-SPIDER SPINNING WEB
This spider [species as yet unknown, except it's BIG] was discovered by Lee Stinchcombe not far from the tree where the moth-lovers have been gathering nightly for more than a month. With his high-quality close-up lens photographer Lincoln Karim managed to get a fine portrait of the spider and at the same time reveal the web being spun.
Ilia Underwing - Catocala ilia --August 18, 2004
photograph by LEE STINCHCOMB
Tearful Underwing Moth- Catocala lacrymosa
- English Oak - August 12, 2004
Photograph by LINCOLN KARIM
The Central Park Moth-ers [rhyme with authors] have been meeting at the English Oak almost every night for the last few weeks. Arriving a little before sunset, they often still see the last of the daytime insects that gather at the Oak: one or two Questionmark Butterflies, a little squadron of Bald-faced Hornets, an occasional Cicada-Killer Wasp. All of these, like the moths to come after dark, are attracted by the pungent sap oozing out of the oak at various places.
As dark falls the moths begin to arrive--Commonly seen these days are Common Idias, Copper Underwings, Srmyworm Moths. Especially dramatic are the Underwing Moths. These medium to large-sized members of the Catocala family, have drab , bark-colored forewings, and contrasting hindwings, either deep black in color with a white band or fringe, or bright orange, yellow or red marked with white or black designs. So far this season, 11 species of Underwings have been identified at the English Oak. Many of them have colorful names, like the Sweetheart, the Girlfriend, the Penitent, the Tearful or the Widow. [The last three, needless to say, have black underwings]. Pictured here, in a photo by Lincoln Karim [once of Red-tailed Hawk fame, now an inveterate Moth-er]is a Tearful Underwing. Two Tearfuls were identified on August 12th this year. Another underwing is pictured above the Tearful. It is the most common Catocaline to be seen at the English Oak, an Ilia Underwing Moth.
Blue Dasher - 8/9/04
Photo by LLOYD SPITALNIK
What do Central Park's best birdwatchers do when the day is hot and the birding is slow? They pay attention to other beautiful creatures. Lloyd Spitalnik is one of the park's most devoted and most accomplished birdwatchers. He is also in charge of the Bird Feeding station at the Evodia Field [the one that used to be at the Azalea Pond until a park restoration project brought about a move.]
Lloyd took this remarkable picture of Central Park's most abundant dragonfly, the Blue Dasher, at the Azalea Pond.
FALL WARBLER UPDATE - 8/12/04
IT IS NOT QUITE THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST. THE FALL MIGRATION WILL NOT PEAK FOR A MONTH. BUT A SURPRISING NUMBER OF WARBLERS HAVE ALREADY MADE AN APPEARANCE IN CENTRAL PARK.BELOW IS A LIST OF WARBLERS BIRDWATCHERS HAVE REPORTED SINCE MID-JULY:
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
The above photo is of a Once-Married Underwing Moth (Catocola unijuga that was observed by the Central Park Mothers [rhymes with authors] on July 29, 2004. The moth, and many other Underwings [a complete list of species to come in a few days] are attracted to sap currently oozing from an English Oak near the East Drive and 72nd Street. The photo was taken by by LINCOLN KARIM,a recent addition to the amateur entomologists' ranks.
CORMORANT AND THE FRICK DUCKLINGS -8/3/04
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
A family of nine newly-hatched Mallard ducklings accompanied by TWO [count 'em 2]female Mallards made their way from the Frick Museum at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, where their original nest was, to Central Park's Model-Boat Pond during the last week of July. Lincoln Karim [of humongus telescope and fabulous photography fame] built them a special platform, where they often sit and preen, and where they are brooded by their two [count 'em 2] Mamas during the night. The photo shows a peaceful confrontation between Mallards and a Cormorant drying his wings. The following photo shows two ducklings heading under Mama's protective wings for the night.
Ducklings under Mama's wing - 8/3/04
A REMINDER FROM JACK MEYER
My fall bird walks in Central Park will begin next week. Here are the
Walks will be Thursday through Saturday, from August 12 to October 31
Walks begin from 72 st & Central Park West (NE corner) at 7:30 AM
There is a charge of $5 per person. No reservation is needed.
If there are further questions, I can be reached at:
212-563-0038 (Not after 8PM please)
I'm looking forward to seeing all my birding friends.
8/2/04 --- FALL MIGRATION REPORT
A look at the "Recent Highlights" column of the New York City Bird Report, that invaluable resource run by Mike Freeman [with the assistance of some of the city's best birdwatchers] demonstrates that more and more species of fall migrant are stopping over in Central Park on their way to their southern winter grounds.
The letter D after a bird's name indicates that the bird is not an expected presence for that day. The letters HD indicate that this is the first sighting of that bird for the second half of the year. I don't remember what HS stands for -- only that it's a very, VERY special sighting for the day.
2 Days Ago
American Redstart (D)
3 Days Ago
Wood Duck (D)
Laughing Gull (D)
Hairy Woodpecker (D)
Acadian Flycatcher (D)
Willow Flycatcher (D)
Tree Swallow (D)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (D)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (D)
Northern Parula (D)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (D)
Black-and-white Warbler (D)
American Redstart (D)
Hooded Warbler (HD)
Eastern Towhee (D)
Brown-headed Cowbird (D)
4 Days Ago
Solitary Sandpiper (D)
Laughing Gull (D)
Hairy Woodpecker (D)
Acadian Flycatcher (D)
Tree Swallow (D)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (D)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (HD)
Tennessee Warbler (HD)
Northern Parula (D)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (D)
Black-and-white Warbler (D)
American Redstart (D)
Eastern Towhee (D)
Orchard Oriole (D)
Note: The Eastern Towhee noted above, sighted first by Alex Freeman, was observed feeding a fledgling at the Loch/Wildflower meadow area in the park's North Woods. This is exciting news indeed, since it strongly indicates that the bird was nesting in the vicinity. This would be the FIRST Towhee nesting ever in Central Park!
Dr. Alexander Fisher
photo taken in June 2004 by
OLDEST HAWKWATCHER DIES
On July 17, 2004, the hawkwatching community was saddened to learn of the death of one of its most beloved members, Dr. Alexander Fisher. He was a few weeks shy of his 99th birthday.
Since Dr. Fisher, an eminent dermatologist and the author of a classic text used to this day, lived on a high floor in the building across the street from the nest building, his terrace was a perfect vantage point for close-up views of the nest.
Many, many hawkwatchers availed themselves of the view. Many fine photographers as well as the documentary filmaker Frederic Lilien,[whose film Pale Male has been winning hearts and prizes all over the world] spent a lot of time on Dr. Fisher's terrace. They could not have achieved their pictures or films without Dr. Fisher's cheerful hospitality.
Besides his generosity to all hawkwatchers, Dr. Fisher was noted for his charm and humor. Here is an example: In an interview on Lincoln Karim's website, [see LINKS] the dermatologist, who specialized in skin diseases such Poison Ivy, was asked: How did you begin your career?
He answered: I began from scratch.
[No groans, please.]
Goodby, Dr. Fisher. We will miss you very much.
Barberry Geometer Moth
Central Park, 2003
The Central Park MOTH-ERS -- Part II
On July 19, 1995 entomologist Cal Snyder, who had come along on the first Bug Night in Central Park, was asked the question: " How could we find out the moth population of Central Park? He answered:
"To get an idea of the population of a place you have to go from dusk to dawn night after night, for a number of years. But one could work over one summer in a single locality, do it three nights a week, kill everything you collect, and then identify it. That would be a real contribution."
Though the 1995 Bug Nights gave us a glimmer of some of the invertebrate riches of the park, and though we would have loved to make "a real contribution", nevertheless we did not go into the park night after night. Nor did we go in three nights a week. We certainly didn't kill anything, not then or in years to come.Indeed, we didn't have another Bug Night for three years.
Why not? Partly, the Fifth Avenue Hawks began siphoning off much of our emotional energy as we followed their nesting success year after glorious year. Besides, we were embarrassed to keep pestering Cal Snyder to bring in his heavy equipment. We had an idea that he thought Bug Night was a one-night fling.
Getting our own equipment was the first great step in resuming our love affair with moths. We pooled our money and ordered our own night light and battery pack from Bioquip, a science equipment company in California. They specialized in bug-collecting gear.
On August 20, 1998 we resumed our night-insect studies in Central Park. Reflecting our greatest interest we now called the event Moth Night.
A little garden at the north end of the Loeb Boathouse parking lot was our chosen spot. This garden had been planted with butterfly-attractive flowers and shrubs under the aegis of the Woodlands Advisory Board, with volunteers doing the planning and planting. Regina Alvarez of the Central Park Conservancy, who had been involved in the Fifth Avenue Hawk story when she was the Zone Gardener of the Model-Boat Pond area, lent us her expertize. Since Charles Kennedy was the most active garden worker [and often the only one to give daily hours to the job] the garden became known as the Kennedy Garden, a name it retains to this day.
We draped our sheet over the chain-link fence at the back of the Kennedy garden, plugged the black light into the battery pack and attached the weirdly glowing fluorescent bulb to the sheet with a clothespin. We were in business. Within seconds our first customer arrived: a Crane Fly. This insect resembles a gigantic mosquito and many people swat at it when they see it, thinking it will inflict a super-bite. In fact, it does not bite people--it bites [and eats] mosquitoes. Since Crane Flies are attracted to bug zappers while mosquitoes are not, it is a perfect reason to discourage that particular form of insect control.
By eleven p.m when we finally called it quits for the night we'd had nine species of moth coming to the light. Nine species we were able to identify, that is. There were at least that many we couldn't make head or tails of.
For unlike birdwatching, where you can confidently expect all birds you see to appear in your field guide, moth-watching does not allow for any such confidence. There are 10,470 species of moths in North America. Meanwhile,in the Field Guide to Moths we were using as an identification guide, the only field guide available, there were pictures of only 1,300 moths, just a little over one-tenth of the total!
To add to our difficulties, the Field Guide was out of print! We had to search in used book shops, and on the Internet, to get a copy of this inadequate resource for each one of us.
The nine identified species on that first night were:
Ipsilon Dart, Armyworm Moth, Common Idia, American Idia, Glossy Black Idia, Pale Beauty [two], Large Yellow Underwing and Copper Underwing, [many].
[To be continued...]
One of the Uptown Fledglings, seen through leaves
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
PALE MALE'S GRANDKIDS????
7/7/04 -- A closely guarded secret is finally out. THERE IS ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL
RED-TAILED HAWK FAMILY IN CENTRAL PARK! This one is in the north part of the park, near the North Meadow ballfield. Indeed, this one might be called the first hawk family to nest IN Central Park, since the nest, discovered in early May, is actually in a tree in the park itself, a tall London Plane,rather than on a building across Fifth Ave. from the park.
The three "uptown" chicks are now officially fledged. But unlike their Fifth Avenue counterparts, who had to make their perilous first flight over Fifth Avenue, surrounded by buildings, these young hawks merely had to hop from branch to branch on their nest tree--a life of privilege, though they didn't have Mary Tyler Moore for a downstairs neighbor.
Why the secrecy, you might be wondering. Since these birds were nesting in a much-used public area, and since news of this nest would surely attract great numbers of spectators, it was thought prudent, for the birds' protection, to avoid any publicity.
But now that the kids are as big as the parents, and beginning to learn to fend for themselves, it seems time to share this GREAT NEWS with the world.
PS Lincoln Karim sent a note clarifying the mysteries I was trying to solve below:
Part of the perks of working as a Broadcast Engineer is that I am issued Press Credentials that gets me behind police lines. But I got into the park that day because some of the cops knew me and opened up the fence for me (they offered). I took that picture and several others using a wireless remote.
ONE MYSTERY SOLVED, TWO REMAIN
Lincoln Karim, renowned hawk photographer, at the Model Boat Pond on June 13, 2004. But where are the usual crowds of people lining up to see Pale Male and his family? Here's the answer: It's the day of the Puerto Rican Day Parade and much of the park is closed! But a mystery remains. How did Lincoln get in to take up his usual hawkwatching spot? And an even greater mystery: WHO TOOK THIS PICTURE???
A Lesser Yellowlegs at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Matt Hagadorn
STARR SAPHIR'S AUGUST WALKS AT JAMAICA BAY
Every Tuesday and Saturday in August, Starr will lead walks at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.The refuge is a great birding site,made up of 9,000 acres of salt marches, brackish ponds and open water. Migratory birds, including thousands of snowy egrets and ibis, nest there.
The walks begin at the Refuge at 9:00 a.m. and last until approximately 1:00 p.m. "Bring a bag lunch and be prepared for mud," writes Starr. Fee for each walk is $6.00.
How to get there:
BY CAR: From Brooklyn - Belt Parkway (east) to exit 17 (Crossbay Boulevard) go over North Channel Bridge and continue 1 1/2 miles to the Traffic light at the entrance to the Refuge on the right.
From Rockaway - Take Crossbay Bridge (94 St.) and go through Broad Channel Community. Refuge visitor center is about 1/2 mile on the left.
BY TRAIN: Take the "A" train going to Rockaways. Exit at Broad Channel Station. Walk west to Crossbay Boulevard then north, (right), about 1/2 mile to the refuge.
BY BUS: Take Triboro Q53 bus from Roosevelt Ave./ Jackson Heights. Exit at refuge stop. You can also take the Greenline Q21 from the intersection of Woodhaven and Liberty Ave. Exit at refuge entrance.
One of the Class of 2004
Photo taken on 6/28 by LINCOLN KARIM
A RECENT FLEDGLINGS SIGHTING - 6/30/04
A quick report on the 2004 Redtail fledglings from Jack Meyer, who is enjoying a well-deserved rest at the end of his popular Spring Migration walks before the next round of birding walks begins, this time to monitor the Fall Migration. [See schedule below]. I ran into Jack and another great Central Park birder, Marty Sohmer, at the Boathouse yesterday morning and asked if they'd seen the Redtail Family recently. They hadn't. When I checked my e-mail a few hours later I found the following message:
"After I spoke to you this morning, Marty & I went over to the model boat
pond, where we found Pale Male & his young in the trees just south of the
refreshment & boat storage building. The young squealing to be fed, and Pale
Male doing his best to ignore them.
P.S. Since Pale Male was proclaimed FATHER OF THE YEAR by CBS News this latest Fathers' Day,[a perfect choice, most of his admirers will agree] it should be understood that his behavior as described by Jack was not in any way a dereliction of duty. By ignoring the juveniles' incessant begging for food, the hawk parents are encouraging them to begin learning the skills they will need to hunt on their own.
Ailanthus Webworm Moth [Atteva punctella]
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CENTRAL PARK MOTHERS [non-maternal] --- Part I
It began in the summer of 1995 when a group of Central Park birdwatchers, finding themselves in the lull between Spring and Fall migrations, decided to take up the study of insects in Central Park. After all, insects were also flying things. Since the city was enduring [barely] a particularly bad heat wave,with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the group thought a night expedition might be refreshing. They persuaded Cal Snyder of the American Museum of Natural History entomology department to bring his equipment and help them identify what they found. Bug Night was our name for the event.
At about 8:30 on July 14th, a small group [I was one of them], accompanied Snyder into the Ramble. He wheeled his portable generator and a special insect-attracting light in a luggage carrier. Our first goal: to find the darkest possible spot in the woodlands. That would lure the greatest number of insects to the light. That spot proved to be a small clearing near the Rustic Summerhouse where three of the four street lamps that normally illuminate that area happened to be broken. A lucky break.
It was dark, really dark there. None of us realized that we had set up shop in a familiar birdwatching spot commonly called Warbler Rock. We had been there thousands of times before.
Some great bugs did show up that night, among them [in order of appearance] a click beetle, a caddis Fly, a katydid, a leafhopper, a froghopper, an earwig and a Lacewing, the last a fragile-looking insect with transparent wings, a small head, and large lustrous eyes. Cal informed us it was sometimes unaccountably called a Stinkfly.
But moths were the unchallenged stars of Bug Night. Seven species came to the white sheet upon which Cal's special light shone its uncanny, irresistable-to-insects incandescence. Some of them beautiful, some weird, and all of them devilishly hard to identify for reasons I'll get to in due course.
Here are the names of the seven moths we actually identified. There were at least as many that we couldn't manage to find in the Field Guide:
Lesser Maple Spanworm, Gypsy Moth Girlfriend Underwing, Funerary Dagger Moth, Greater Black-letter Moth, Ipsilon Dart and the Ailanthus Webworm Moth, a little tube of shockingly bright orange, yellow and black markings.
I've told you all the names because moth nomenclature was one of moths' great attractions for us, for that little band who were soon to become the Central Park Mothers.
[much more to come]
6/23/04 MORE NEWS ABOUT THE REDTAIL CHICK FOUND DEAD ON JUNE 9
At the annual Fledge party, which, this year, was also Pale Male's 13th birthday party [or Hawk Mitzvah?]Lincoln Karim told me a few more details about the fledgling that didn't make it this year. Found dead on Fifth Avenue two days after the third chick had fledged, the bird was taken by car [by Lincoln] to Ward Stone, the wildlife Pathologist for DEC in Albany. A preliminary report indicates that the hawk had a crushed skull and ribs, almost certainly caused by a collision, either with a building or a vehicle. A final necropsy report will follow, but one further detail is known: the young hawk was a female.
6/16/04 - Four Fuzzy Green Heron Chicks on a Branch Near Nest --
Photo by ARDITH BONDI
This is the tenth year that Central Park's birdwatchers have been aware of Green Herons nesting at the Upper Lobe. Last year, in fact, there were TWO nests in that same area. The four chicks of this year's nest are growing rapidly, and becoming far more conspicuous on various branches near the nest. They will be branching out further within the week. In another week or so they should be flying and beginning to hunt on their own. But probably through much of the summer we'll be seeing six large Green Herons -- the parents and kids -- feeding around the Upper Lobe and Turtle Pond-- a glorious sight.
6/15/04 --ADDITIONAL NESTS
Jack Meyer, who leads excellent bird walks during the spring and fall migration seasons, has sent some additional nest locations to add to the list I posted yesterday [see below}.
Cedar Waxwing -- in London Plane at the extreme southern tip of the lower
lobe (on water side of the path looping the lobe). Found this one about two
weeks ago, and have not been able to re-find it. Well buried in leaves.
Baltimore Oriole-- in large Tulip tree on cherry hill. The Tulip closest to
the bridge.If you stand by the water, in front of the birches that were
planted a few years ago, it is on a branch to the left of the left part of
the trunk. At the top of that left trunk, are a bunch of branches making a
solid mass of leaves. The nest branch is just below this top clump, the
first (coming down from top) that stands alone. Nest is about one foot in
from the end of the branch, and well hidden in leaves.
Mourning Dove-- in London Plane right at the south end of Bow bridge. This is
another that I found and then could not relocate. Maybe it is finished.
Red-bellied Woodpecker at nest on the west side of the Reservoir - 6/12/04
Photo by ARDITH BONDI
NEST REPORT - 6/14/04
By the second week of June the excitement of the spring migration is just about over in Central Park. Though a few stragglers remain -- a couple of warblers and a dilatory flycatcher or two-- almost all of the hundreds upon hundreds of avian visitors that have been streaming through the park for almost two months have moved on to their final destinations. ALMOST all. For a small number of migrants Central Park IS the final destination. These are the ones who choose to nest there, together with the year-round birds who also nest in the park.
Here, in no particular order, is a quick summary of some of our most closely-watched nests.
Red-tailed Hawk-- no need to say more. "The most celebrated birds in New York City," said E.J. McAdams, Executive director of the NYC Audubon Society, in a recent article about the birds, and about Lincoln Karim,who offers the best looks at the Fifth Av nest with his huge telescope and video monitor at the boatpond.
2. Green Herons. Nesting in one of two or three oaks at the Upper Lobe since 1994. A few days ago 4 downy chicks were seen stretching and preening in the nest.
3. Red-bellied Woodpecker. [See Ardith's great photo above.] They like to nest in freshly-excavated holes, but Central Park's many starlings, a more agressive species, usually oust them from their nest hole shortly after they finish making it and use it to bring up another generation of starlings. [Slave labor!] So they often resort to an old abandoned hole. Since there is evidence of fresh excavation around the hole in the photo, this one may be a new hole they have succeeded in guarding, or it may be an old, renovated hole. The shelf fungus above the hole will protect the nest from rain.
Flicker - There is an active hole a little to the west of Warbler Rock, at the top of the little incline some call Flycatcher Alley. Unlike Flicker holes in more rural locations, since Starlings are known to enter an active hole and kill the resident nestlings, here a parent bird seems to be guarding the hole much of the time. This one is definitely an old hole; no signs of fresh excavation.
Wood Thrush: Nesting high in a tree at the south end of the Evodia Field,[the new location of the Azalea Pond feeding station]. A considerable amount of toilet paper was evidently used in the construction of this nest.
Baltimore Oriole-- Several nests have been found by sharp-eyed birdwatchers, some in the Ramble and one along the West Drive, between 72nd and 79th Street.
Cedar Waxwing -- Though this bird may nest in the park every year, its nest is not often discovered. Starr Saphir came upon an active nest on the west side of the West Drive, just opposite the Hernshead sign. It is in a London Plane tree.
Robins, robins, robins: The most prolific nester in Central Park. There is a robin's nest almost everywhere you look in the Ramble.
Common Grackle -- Several nests have been found in the park this year. One was very visible in a tree at the very end of the Point. Several grackle fledglings were seen a few days ago being fed by a parent near Bow Bridge. The sound of grackle babies begging may be heard throughout the park these days.
Blue Jay -- another common C.P. nester. Many birders enjoyed views of a Blue Jay nest in the Japanese Holly tree along the path from the Azalea Pond to the Humming Tombstone. There were three young jays in the nest. They have all fledged, but can still be heard begging in nearby trees, and are still being fed occasional tidbits by their parents.
[more reports to follow. If anyone finds a kingbird nest or an active downy woodpecker hole, please let me know.]
BIRDING GOES ON IN CENTRAL PARK
Though most of the migrating birds that made Central Park a birding mecca for the month of May are well ensconced on their breeding grounds there are still a few stragglers to be seen, and some migrants who end their journey in the park and nest there. Here is a recent report from Tom Fiore, [via e-birds]:
DATE: Saturday, 5 June 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
Among the more interesting birds I saw (& heard!) in Central Park
were: Spotted, Semipalmated (3) & Least (5+) Sandpipers at the north
end of the Reservoir; Flycatchers including a SINGING ALDER FLYCATCHER
(rarely heard in Central or elsewhere in migration, in my experience),
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (also SINGING, not unexpected in late spring in
migration here), Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher &
Eastern Kingbird (a regular nester in Central Park); YELLOW-BILLED
CUCKOO, HAIRY WOODPECKER, RED-EYED & WARBLING VIREOS (latter nests,
former species has as well), WARBLERS: Magnolia, Blackpoll (1 female),
American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush & Common Yellowthroat; EASTERN
TOWHEE (this species has nested rarely in recent years in Central
Park), White-throated Sparrow (a lingerer), ORCHARD & Baltimore
Orioles (both oriole species nesting).
An incredible photo, taken on May 29 at 5:06 pm by nature photographer CAL VORNBERGER [see Links for his web site]. The photo shows one of the three nestlings beginning the ascent from the nest that resulted in his fledging. The fact that the young hawk still has a stick from the nest in his talons makes it clear that he or she left home inadvertantly, probably propelled upward by a strong gust of wind.As of yesterday at 8:00 pm, neither of the other two chicks has fledged.
FIRST BABY FLEDGES PREMATURELY
There has been a lot of excitement, and more than the usual anxiety, at the Hawk Bench. The following report, by KENTAURIAN, one of the most faithful hawkwatchers, tells the story concisely and accurately. [To come, photos of the actual event, which give evidence that it was more of an accident caused by a sudden gust of wind, than a deliberate take-off.]:
The Red-Tail Hawk nest on Fifth Avenue at 74th Street in Manhattan, NYC has
three chicks this year (2004). Yesterday, Saturday, 29th May, one chick flew up
on to the roof of the nest building at 5:06pm, several days before the
statistical average - it was a very breezy day and a gust of wind my have helped.
After 20 minutes (more or less), that fledgling left the roof and flew south
one building then turned back toward the nest. Strong wind and maybe courage
carried the young bird up Fifth Avenue two or three buildings further north
were it seemed to hit the side of a building and flutter down between them out of
We spent hours looking for the fledgling. It was not in the street, nor on
the sidewalk. It was not on any of the window ledges. We counld not find it on
the roof tops of any of the low buildings where it could have landed after its
tumble. Night time was coming and all the birds (both in the park and in the
nest) were going to sleep. The young hawk did not cry out, no sound, not a
peep. But we knew that by morning it would be hungry and probably start calling.
Early today, the young fledgling was seen in the trees of Central Park by
Stella with her binoculars from the terrace of Dr. Fisher's apartment on Fifth
Avenue. All is well. Now we watch for the safe fledging of the other young Red-
The two photos, by LINCOLN KARIM perfectly demonstrate the extraordinarily swift development of redtail chicks. The first photo, shown in a larger format below, was taken on May 7, the second on May 27th. In less than three weeks the nestlings went from fuzzy white butterballs to almost-fully-grown young raptors. The excitement is mounting at the model-boat pond. The first baby will take off [fledge] in about a week, give or take a day or two. Stay tuned!!!
Here they are, at last, the thrilling threesome of 2004, in a photo taken by LINCOLN KARIM on May 7 [about three weeks after hatching]. This is the tenth season that chicks have hatched in the Fifth Avenue nest, and these three baby hawks are Pale Male's 24th, 25th and 26th offspring.
5/5/04-CELEBRITY WARBLERS ATTRACTS CROWDS
Just when Central Park's birdwatchers were beginning to think that the Prothonotary Warbler might not make it to the annual migration extravaganza, a female of this much sought-after species popped up in an unexpected place -- Strawberry Fields. A large group of early morning birders quickly communicated the sighting, by means of cell phones and walkie talkies, to other enthusiasts in the park. Then they followed the bird to a more expected location, at the western shore of the Lake between the Upper Lobe and the Ladies' Pavillion. Soon great numbers of birders, including Starr Saphir's large Wednesday morning congregation, came running to the spot. It was not hard to find the bird; hordes of birdwatchers who gathered along the shore were there to point out the cooperative [and beautiful] little bird to all newcomers.
Less cooperative, but no less beautiful, was the Cerulean Warbler discovered by Chris Cooper. It spent almost an hour in an oak at the north end of Strawberry Fields between 8 and 9 a.m. and attracted another birdwatcher feeding-frenzy. But the handsome, short-tailed bluish-backed bird with bold white wing bars darted in and out of the upper branches of the tree, frustrating many in the eager crowd below. Good, satisfying looks were hard to get.
This was the beginning of the first really Big Day of the season. By the time I left the park at around 11:30 a.m, 19 species of warblers had been reported, a respectable number. In a phone conversation with Lloyd Spitalnik less than 4 hours later, I learned that the total for the day had gone up to an amazing 27 warbler species. Below is a list of the earlier total:
Cape May Warbler [first of the season]
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler [first of the season]
[This list is taken from the New York City Bird Report: www.NYCBirdreport.Com., a web site well worth checking every day to get an idea of what's going on in Central Park.
Scarlet Tanagers come through Central Park every year during the spring and fall migration seasons. Their close relatives, Summer Tanagers, are far more uncommon visitors to the park.But this has been a great Summer Tanager year. At least one male was sighted in the North Woods at the end of April, and two were seen [by many birdwatchers] on May 1st and 2nd in the Ramble. This great photo of a male was taken in the North Woods by LLOYD SPITALNIK on April 29th.
CATCHING UP AFTER TWO-WEEk HIATUS--4/28/04
Computer problems have kept me from updating the Central Park News page for almost two weeks, two very crucial weeks. Here is a quick summary of events:
FIFTH AVENUE HAWK NEWS
At last report, the eggs had just hatched. Almost a week later one little fuzzy white head could be seen poking up above the twigs. A few days later two separate heads were glimpsed. It's still early. Another chick may still be hiding in the nest.But that seems to be it -- two chicks for the year 2004. That brings the total of chicks hatched at the Fifth Anue nest, with Pale Male the father, to 25. [Three of that total didn't make it.]
Meanwhile, telescopes are sprouting up at the Model-boat pond like mushrooms after a rainfall. On weekends great crowds are gathering to line up and peek at the baby hawks. Hawk madness is definitely upon us!
Two weeks ago the Spring Migration was still in its early stages. Now it is reaching its peak. Here is Tom Fiore's list for yesterday, 4/27/04. It is a compendium of birds spotted by many, many birders. Note that 14 different species of warblers were seen in the park yesterday.
CP list for Tues., 4/27:
Common Loon (2, early morning flyovers)
Double-crested Cormorant (~50 flyovers; & in Park)
Great Blue Heron (Turtle Pond, 5:50 a.m.)
Snowy Egret (10+ flyovers, all N. end, 10 am-2 pm)
Green Heron (Pond, Lake, Meer)
Turkey Vulture (1, flyover)
Gadwall (1, Reservoir)
American Black Duck (1 male, Reservoir)
Northern Shoveler (5, Reservoir)
Bufflehead (30+, Reservoir)
Ruddy Duck (12+, Reservoir)
Osprey (2, flyovers)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (flyover)
Broad-winged Hawk (14, high flyovers, afternoon)
Red-tailed Hawk (S. end, N. end, & Fifth Ave. birds)
American Kestrel (1, perched near Meer)
Peregrine Falcon (1, flyover)
Spotted Sandpiper (1, Reservoir edge, NE corner, p.m.)
Herring Gull (Reservoir)
Great Black-backed Gull (Reservoir)
Belted Kingfisher (1, Turtle Pond, 6:15 a.m.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (few)
Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (1, singing, near Upper Lobe, 6:30 a.m.)
Great Crested Flycatcher (1, Strawberry Fields, 6:40 a.m.)
Eastern Kingbird (several)
White-eyed Vireo (Loch)
Blue-headed Vireo (multiple)
Warbling Vireo (1, singing, Lower Lobe, 6:45 a.m.)
Tree Swallow (over Meer & Reservoir)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (over Meer & Reservoir)
Barn Swallow (over Meer & Reservoir)
White-breasted Nuthatch (N. Woods)
Brown Creeper (several, N. end)
House Wren (several, S. end, Ramble, N. end)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1, Strawberry Fields)
Hermit Thrush (hundreds)
Wood Thrush (several)
Gray Catbird (8+)
Brown Thrasher (multiple)
Nashville Warbler (several, all in Ramble)
Northern Parula (1, Falconer Hill, 6:50 a.m.)
Yellow Warbler (several, Ramble & Reservoir's edge)
Myrtle/Yellow-rumped Warbler (hundreds)
Black-throated Green Warbler (1, N. Woods)
Blackburnian Warbler (1 male, Pilgrim Hill, 7:30 a.m.)
Prairie Warbler (several)
Palm Warbler (20+ including several of the western race)
Black-and-white Warbler (6+)
Northern Waterthrush (5+)
Kentucky Warbler (1, Lily Ponds rivulet/ravine, 11 a.m.)
Common Yellowthroat (1, Hallett Sanctuary, a.m.)
Hooded Warbler (1 female, the "oven")
Eastern Towhee (many)
Chipping Sparrow (multiple)
Field Sparrow (2)
Savannah Sparrow (1, N. Meadow, E. edge)
Swamp Sparrow (multiple)
White-throated Sparrow (thousands)
Dark-eyed Junco (2, Ramble by Evodia Field, 1 at Pinetum/E.)
Orchard Oriole (2: male, Cherry Hill; female, Pilgrim Hill)
American Goldfinch (small number in scattered locations)
Photo by CAL VORNBERGER
4/7/04 Here is a report of early migration activities sent to e-birds by Tom Fiore. Pictured is the Louisiana Waterthrush, taken in the north part of the park by nature photographer and faithful follower of Central Park wildlife events, Cal Vornberger.
DATE: Tuesday, 6 April 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
The north end of the Park was a popular destination today: the drake
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (first found on Sat., 4/3 by Alex Wilson) continued
on The Pool near West 100-103 Streets. It likes the western part of
the Pool for now. Also seen by the many birders was at least one (very
active) LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH or perhaps 2 of this species, at both
the Pool's shoreline & along the Loch, where I saw one later in the
A few PALM WARBLERS were also scattered around the N. end, mainly
either at the Pool or near the southeast end of the Meer. PINE
WARBLERS were in the Ramble (probably several) & at least one male was
VERY visible around & at the feeders there. A trio of WOOD DUCKS flew
OUT of the Upper Lobe around 2 p.m., headed north. I had not seen them
anywhere earlier, nor afterwards. A few TURKEY VULTURES flew over, & 1
not-too-high OSPREY, around mid-day. 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, one in winter
plumage at the Upper Lobe; another in breeding plumage just N. of the
A small number of other early spring migrants: 1 Myrtle/Yellow-rumped
Warbler at the Pinetum later on, some Hermit Thrushes in scattered
locations, 2 Savannah Sparrows on the North Meadow's Knoll, & others.
A lot of holiday birders were out enjoying many of these on a bright
sunny day! A few butterflies were out as well, including Eastern
Comma, Mourning Cloak & Cabbage White.
EARLY BLOOMS AND MIGRATION HIGHLIGHTS IN CENTRAL PARK
DATE: Thursday, 1 April 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
Blooms in Central Park now include at least one small Cherry tree
around the S.E. corner of the Great Lawn's oval path; Early Azaleas at
Azalea Pond (where else?), S. side of Turtle Pond & some other places
too; Magnolias along the East & West Drives in the 80's, & East Drive
in the 70's, & Conservatory Garden; Forsythia in many places; & Cornus
mas (poorly-named "Cornelian Cherry") just about everywhere. Willows
are really going into green, Apple trees gaining green quickly; many
leaf buds are ready to go; the greensward is just that.
A pair - or at any rate a brightly-colored male, & a drab-colored
female - of PINE WARBLERS were in about the same place as seen on
Tuesday, & also last Sunday: the pine trees, & ballfield turf grass,
on the west edge of the EAST Pinetum. That is, just west of the
basketball courts to the N.E. of the Great Lawn. Eve Levine, Anne
Shanahan & I watched them a while. They were there, mostly out ON THE
GRASS, all afternoon.
Generally it felt as though many of last weekend's little flurry of
migrant birds had moved on. But there were still fair numbers of
flickers & phoebes around - just not as many as 3 to 5 days ago ...
By the way, the Mute Swan may have moved on - it was seen on the
Reservoir on Tuesday, after having flown off the Lake that day. Today
I did NOT see it anywhere in the Park between 60 to 110 Streets.
photo by CAL VORNBERGER
This dramatic picture of Pale Male with a freshly-captured pigeon, was taken in the Ramble on March 24.
photo by LINCOLN KARIM
Pale Male and Lola have been incubating eggs on the nest since March 8, exchanging turns at nest duty. Here's a photo of Lola leaving the nest, just before PM takes over. It was taken on March 22.
STARR'S SPRING WALKS
Readers of Red-Tails in Love will remember that Starr Saphir played a critical role in the story of the Fifth Avenue Hawks. She was leading a bird walk on March 2nd, (1993) when she spotted a red-tailed hawk bringing nesting material to a window ledge on Fifth Avenue and 74th St. Thus began the saga of Pale Male and his several mates.
In the chapter entitled Moving to Fifth I write: "During the spring and fall migrations Starr Saphir leads bird walks that are noted for their extraordinary sightings. Birds that others would die for--Starr's group has two or three of them on a single walk."
This spring Starr's walks will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, running from April 5 to June 2.
Here is the schedule, in Starr's words:
Monday and Wednesday mornings, we meet at 7:30 a.m. at 81st St. and Central Park West, the S. W. corner. Tuesday mornings we meet at at 9:00 a.m. at 103rd St. and Central Park West, the park side All walks leave promptly and last for roughly three hours. No registration is necessary---just show up. There is a $6 fee for each walk ($3 for full-time students). I only cancel for heavy rain, and I leave a message on my answering machine 3 hours before any rainy morning walk. For further information, please call me at: 212 304-3808.
Photo by Ardith Bondi
SPRING MIGRATION WALKS BY JACK MEYER
Few know the ins and outs of Central Park birding as well as Jack Meyer. With Marty Sohmer he looks for birds in the park just about every morning, year round, and posts his sightings on the New York City Bird Report. [see Links] Jack [2nd from the left in photo] has been leading popular bird walks for the last few years, covering the days Starr does not lead walks. Below is information about this year's walks, in his words:
Walks will be Thursday through Sunday from April 1 to May 30.
Walks start at 7:30 AM, leaving from 72nd & CPW (NE corner).
The cost is $5 and no reservation is needed.
Any questions, I can be reached at :
212-563-0038 (not after 8 PM please)
Photos by LINCOLN KARIM
First there was Pale Male. Then there was Pale Male Jr., a light-colored Red-tailed Hawk making an unsuccessful nesting attempt in the southern part of Central Park. [Jack Meyer suggests renaming him Fail Male.]
And now...introducing Pale Male III! The following report [sent on 3/12/04] is from Tom Fiore:
An adult Red-tailed Hawk, very pale on the underparts with almost no belly-band, has been seen in the north end of Central Park carrying
sticks. I saw it this morning with a substantial stick about 30" long,being carried up to the Great Hill. Other observers have reported
seeing a Red-tail carry sticks at the N. end recently. No further info as to what it (they?) are up to, or exactly where... one fact I'm positive about though: this N. end Red-tail is NOT our celebrated hawk "Pale Male".
3/22/04 --PHOEBE UPDATE
The first Phoebe was seen in the North Woods on March 8. Since then there have been more sightings in the north part of the park. Now there have been two Phoebe sightings in the Ramble -- one at the Upper Lobe last Saturday, and one this morning at the Tupelo Meadow.
An Eastern Phoebe feeding young [not in Central Park].
FIRST PHOEBE ARRIVES
The Eastern Phoebe is one of Central Park's earliest and most regular migrants, arriving like clockwork year after year during the second week of March. The park's regular birdwatchers are out hunting for that much-awaited first Phoebe in early March, and have been for almost a century. One of the earliest records of a Phoebe arrival was made by the noted ornithologist Ludlow Griscom on March 10 1908. [That was the arrival date in 1992 as well.] In the years 2000 and 2001 Central Park's first phoebe was sighted on March 9th. THIS YEAR'S FIRST PHOEBE was noted by Tom Fiore on March 8th.
HARBINGER OF SPRING
3/3/04 -- The much-awaited first warbler of the year is in -- and as usual, it is the Pine Warbler. "No other bright yellow-breasted warbler lacking other conspicuous field marks has white wing bars"
writes Roger Tory Peterson. Many Central Park Regulars were out hunting on Wednesday, and sightings were reported by Dorothy Poole, Sandy and Lloyd Spitalnik, Tom Fiore, Phil Sussman Doug Gruenau. Others, including Marty Sohmer and Jack Meyer, sighted this harbinger of the spring migration on subsequent days. Last year the first warbler, also the Pine, was first seen in the park on March 9.
Photo by ARDITH BONDI, taken 2/25/04
During the winter doldrums, sighting a Common Redpoll [an unusual bird for Central Park] feeding at a thistle sock together with a crowd of goldfinches and house finches, added excitement to many a quiet birdwatching expedition. Last Wednesday I went in search of the Redpoll at the Evodia Field bird-feeding station.It had been seen daily for over a month. I waited for almost an hour. Then a few minutes after I left, photographer Ardith Bondi captured it on film as it shared a meal with a goldfinch in winter plumage.
Just in Time for Valentine's Day
In a photo taken on 2/9 by the estimable LINCOLN KARIM, Pale Male and Lola share a Fifth Ave. TV antenna and prepare for the 2004 nesting season.
2/26/04 ---MORE ABOUT PALE MALE JR.'S NEST
Wildlife photographer CAL VORNBERGER, whose work has been seen on these pages, gives more details about the destroyed nest:
"I have been following the progress of the second hawk's nest quite closely. I called Lincoln on Monday morning to tell him I had seen both birds in the nest and had observed them mating in the trees above the 66th St. transverse earlier that morning. By this time (around 8:45 am) both hawks had headed off North. As soon as they were gone I noticed 5-6 squirrels scurrying up the tree with the nest in it. To my amazement they began to pull apart the nest! I don't know if it was because they didn't want a hawk family in the neighborhood or whether they just needed free nest material but as I watched they pulled quite a bit out of the nest. This went on for about 45 minutes during which time the neither the male nor female Red-tail were observed. I walked over to the Ramble and when I went back to the nest site about (around 12:30 pm) the nest was just about gone."
2/25/04 ---BAD NEWS [See below] IS NOT SO BAD
In response to the headline below, reacting to the disintegration of the closely-watched nest Pale Male Jr. and his mate were trying to complete, Ben Cacace sends the following illumination:
That's not bad news. That's good news ... if they had an egg in the nest
and it fell apart that would be bad news. Since they are probably new to the game of nest building it may take them a few times.
By the look of the nest it appears that it may've been a a drey (squirrel's nest) that they were building on top of. Probably best that they start off fresh. The amount of leaves in the toppled nest is quite a lot for a hawk's nest. I can't imagine them carrying that many leaves to the nest site.
Photos by LINCOLN KARIM
A message from the photographer Lincoln Karim, accompanied by the two images to the right, arrived this morning, 2/24:
"Not so good news about PM Jr's nest--it has fallen apart. Up to this morning Cal [Vornberger] called me to say they were both in the nest at the same time, so I was surprised to see it in shambles this evening. Junior is still around as of this evening--perched on a tree west of the Carousel."
[The first image is dated 2/14. The second 2/23.]
Photo by LINCOLN KARIM
Much excitement in Central Park these days as a second pair of Red-tailed Hawks has been seen trying to settle down in what was once Pale Male's exclusive territory. The new nest site is not on a building ledge this time, but in a more conventional redtail location: a tall tree. Still under construction, the new nest site is shown in the photo to the left [taken on Feb. 14]. It is located in the South-central part of the park, but Hawk-watcher etiquette, designed for the birds' protection, prevents me from being more specific on the Internet. If you find yourself in the park,however, and wish to see the new nest site,just look for one of the binocular band and ask for directions to the nest. The REALLY intriguing part of this story:the male of the pair is extremely light in color. In fact he's a spitting image of Pale Male. No wonder he's been universally dubbed Pale Male Jr.
I'll keep you posted on this nest's progress.
Something is seriously annoying Pale Male here, according to wildlife photographer CAL VORNBERGER, who took this photo on 2/13/04. The next photo was taken shortly thereafter, also at the Azalea Pond.
Now that breeding season is here,
Pale Male cannot tolerate a
Cooper's Hawk in his territory.
This photo, too, is by CAL Vornberger.
[To check out Cal's website, click on the link below.]
a photo of Lola, taken last year by LINCOLN KARIM
LINCOLN KARIM captures the latest criminal act at the Evodia Field feeding station. The photographer's caption: The most intelligent beings were defeated once more!
photo by LINCOLN KARIM
2/2/04*****HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY*****
Though there hasn't been a groundhog [better known as a woodchuck] to be seen in Central Park since 1998, if one were to show up today it would definitely see its shadow. That means SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER.
In the photo, taken two days ago, a Cooper's Hawk is checking out the action at the Model-Boat Pond. Below is a list of other birds noted in the park on the day before that:
DATE: Friday, 30 January 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
Mute Swan (1, Reservoir)
American Black Duck
Hooded Merganser (pair, Reservoir)
Bald Eagle (2, adult & 2nd-year, headed S. down west side)
American Kestrel (1, near Meer)
American Coot (2, Reservoir)
American Woodcock (1, Loch below Wildflower Meadow)
Herring Gull (Reservoir)
Great Black-backed Gull (Reservoir)
Hairy Woodpecker (1, Loch)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (several)
Northern Flicker (1, near The Mount)
Winter Wren (1, Loch below Wildflower Meadow)
Hermit Thrush (1, near The Mount)
American Robin (few)
Northern Mockingbird (Conservatory Garden)
Eastern Towhee (1 female, seen near C.P.W., S. of W. 100 St.)
Fox Sparrow (1, Loch)
Song Sparrow (few)
Swamp Sparrow (2: 1 near The Mount, 1 at Balcony Bridge)
Dark-eyed Junco (few)
Rusty Blackbird (1, Balcony Bridge)
Common Grackle (several)
Brown-headed Cowbird (1, seen near C.P.W., S. of W. 100 St.)
Purple Finch (2, with goldfinches in a flock W. of the Meer)
American Goldfinch (several small flocks in the N. end)
BARN OWL STILL IN PARK
According to Jack Meyer and Marty Sohmer, two of Central Park's most indomitable Regulars,[yesterday the thermometer hovered around 1 degree F] the arctic weather has not daunted our Barn Owl. Below is yesterday's Bird Report:
DATE: Friday, 16 January 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
OBSERVERS: Marty Sohmer, Jack Meyer
REPORTED BY: Jack Meyer
Barn Owl (1)
Long-eared Owl (1)
Hairy Woodpecker (Female, feeders)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Feeders)
Downy Woodpecker (Several, feeders)
Northern Flicker (Maintenance Field)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Feeders)
Tufted Titmouse (Several)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Feeders)
American Goldfinch (Many, feeders)
House Finch (Many, feeders)
On Tuesday, 1/13/04, at about 11 a.m., ARDITH BONDI managed to get this great photo of the Barn Owl, though it was very high in the roost tree. What a magnificent albeit weird looking critter!
DATE: Thursday, 15 January 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
Some highlights today include: waterbirds still hanging in at the
Reservoir, although with ice cover there at 75% or more, & a possible
total freeze-over by Friday or Saturday, it may be down to a few
lingering gulls, geese, or others. It was obvious that many of the
ducks have already moved on. A BARN OWL was well hidden in its
recently favored roost tree, at least as of 9 a.m. - I heard that
other birders did not see it later in the day - might it have flown
out in the morning when snow was still coming down? At least one
LONG-EARED OWL remained in a favored roost tree. On Wednesday I found
a second Long-eared as well. I looked for, but did NOT see, a N.
Saw-whet Owl as had been in a corner of the Park on Tuesday. One or
more of them, &/or other owls might be around!
A RUSTY BLACKBIRD was below Balcony Bridge on the Lake shore, near W.
77 St. - this bird has been in the area for months now; sometimes easy
to find, sometimes not. Check the small stream on the west side of the
bridge/Park Drive, & perhaps the nearby Upper Lobe of the Lake as
well, if it's not found at Balcony Bridge. The Rusty BB may also perch
in trees & shrubs for lengthy periods.
A Fish Crow was calling as it flew by the Meer - best ID'd by voice in
late fall, winter, & spring; after crow breeding-season, watch out for
young American Crows sounding rather like Fish Crows do. A Belted
Kingfisher first reported by Rebekah Creshkoff at the Loch was still
there later on Thursday & a Winter Wren was calling, & eventually seen
at the Loch below the Wildflower Meadow. That meadow had at least 5
sparrow species today: AMERICAN TREE, Fox, Swamp, Song &
White-throated. All seen at the eastern end of the meadow. An EASTERN
TOWHEE continues in the Conservatory Garden's S. Garden. There were
small, scattered flocks of finches feeding high in Sweet Gum & other
trees in the North Woods & elsewhere; all of them that I could see
today were American Goldfinches or House Finches.
Full list: 1/15/04
American Black Duck
Great Black-backed Gull
American Tree Sparrow
Good birding! - Tom Fiore
BARN OWL RETURNS
On Saturday, Jan. 10, a birdwatcher looked up into the tall evergreen west of the Great Lawn where the Barn Owl had been seen and much admired between January 5 and 7, and discovered the bird back on its same perch.It has been seen every day since. Odds are the owl had never left the park, but was simply not discovered by birdwatchers, whether in a thicker part of the same tree or elsewhere in the park. The park's birding community welcomed back its rare visitor with relief and its usual enthusiasm.
Below, the latest Tom Fiore Roundup, including the rediscovered Barn Owl:
DATE: Tuesday, 13 January 2004
LOCATION: Central Park
REPORTED BY: Tom Fiore
Particular highlights were 2 afternoon flyover Bald Eagles & 2 Pine
Siskins in the North Woods! A dramatic sky, also.
Mute Swan (1)
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler (Many, Reservoir)
Canvasback (1, Reservoir)
Hooded Merganser (2, Reservoir)
Ruddy Duck (Many, Reservoir)
BALD EAGLE (2 flyovers, subadult & full adult, afternoon)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (1 adult, in North Woods)
Red-tailed Hawk (Several)
American Kestrel (1)
American Coot (2, Reservoir)
Great Black-backed Gull (Reservoir)
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1)
Hairy Woodpecker (1)
Northern Flicker (1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1, N. end)
Winter Wren (1, Loch)
Hermit Thrush (2, Great Hill, Loch)
American Robin (30+.)
Gray Catbird (1, Conservatory Garden)
Cedar Waxwing (5+, south of The Mount)
Eastern Towhee (1 female, Conservatory Garden; in S. garden)
American Tree Sparrow (2, Wildflower Meadow)
Fox Sparrow (Several, N. Woods)
Swamp Sparrow (1, Wildflower Meadow)
Red-winged Blackbird (Several)
Rusty Blackbird (1, Balcony Bridge)
Common Grackle (12+)
Purple Finch (3, along The Ridge, woods just W of Meer)
PINE SISKIN (2, with goldfinches in North Woods)
American Goldfinch (A few small flocks in North Woods)
Good birding, Tom Fiore
A stunning new photograph by LINCOLN KARIM of one of the two remaining Long-eared Owls, taken on January 9th, [just before the Flyout] in bone-chilling cold weather.
One of Tom Fiore periodic and comprehensive birding roundups:
DATE: Mon-Fri, 5-9 January 2004
LOCATION: Central Park, Manhattan
The biggest bird news for Central Park so far this year was the discovery of a BARN OWL by Chuck McAlexander on Monday, Jan. 5th. Seen only on Monday thru Wednesday Jan. 7th; many birders were able to view this owl - rarely seen in Central Park, although breeding in areas around N.Y.C., such as the Jamaica Bay islands (part of the refuge) & likely elsewhere in the city as well. The Barn Owl was sought Thursday-Friday with no report of any further sightings. Lloyd Spitalnik is to be thanked for getting some of us to see this owl, after Chuck McAlexander's discovery of it. Lloyd & many volunteers maintain the birdfeeders in the Ramble that are active all winter long.
A N. Saw-whet Owl was also reported from Central Park Monday but we do not know the location of its roost, nor would I post a location if I did know. It was seen in the Ramble by 3 observers.
At least 2 Long-eared Owls remain in Central Park. They, and previously up to 3 additional Long-eareds, have been mostly in the same tree since the end of last year. No location will be given by email.
Other "highlight" birds in Central Park today - Fri., Jan. 9th:
American WOODCOCK (1, flying around in the Ramble)
RUSTY Blackbird (1, fairly regular at Balcony Bridge, The Lake shore adjacent to the W. 77 St. Park entrance or in any likely wet habitat very close by there, such as the Lake's Upper Lobe)
PINE SISKIN (4, feeding on a birch tree in the North Woods)
Some birds attempting to overwinter in Central Park include:
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Eastern Towhee, Fox Sparrow.
(None of the above are that unusual in winter in Central Park but are certainly uncommon now. Nuthatches & Siskins are cyclical, of course.
In Central Park, we seem to be lacking in chickadees this winter season - during some other winters we see very good numbers of Black-capped Chickadee.
The whole list - Friday, Jan. 9th:
Great Blue Heron (1, Balcony Bridge)
Mute Swan (1, Lake)
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler(200+, Reservoir)
Bufflehead (Reservoir & Meer)
Ruddy Duck (800+ today, Reservoir)
Cooper's Hawk (hunting in Ramble)
Peregrine Falcon (from S.E. corner)
American Coot (2, Reservoir)
American Woodcock (Ramble)
Herring Gull (few, Reservoir)
Great Black-backed Gull (few, Reservoir)
Long-eared Owl (2)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (several)
Hairy Woodpecker (at least 4 altogether)
Northern Flicker (2)
American Crow (few)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (regular at feeder)
Brown Creeper (Hallett Sanctuary)
Winter Wren (Hallett Sanctuary)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Hallett Sanctuary)
Hermit Thrush (several)
American Robin (80+ today)
Gray Catbird (1 near the C.P. Zoo)
Northern Mockingbird (several)
Eastern Towhee (female, Conserv. Garden)
Fox Sparrow (Ramble, Hallett, & N. end)
Swamp Sparrow (1, Balcony Bridge)
Dark-eyed Junco (few)
Red-winged Blackbird (few)
Rusty Blackbird (1, Balcony Bridge)
Common Grackle (20+ today, N. of The Pool)
Pine Siskin (4, N. Woods)
American Goldfinch (fair numbers around now)
Good birding to all, Tom Fiore