Friday, December 17, 2004

12/17/04 -- Blakeman's Correspondence with Audubon


Date: 12/17/2004


No, no plans or design descriptions were forwarded to me. Here's an email I just got from Tess somebody, of Audubon:

Hello John --

I have been working with E.J. McAdams and others in NYC Audubon to help refine the design specifications for a safety guard for Pale Male's nesting site. E.J. shared with me your comments and suggestions. Your points are very well taken and your concerns have indeed been addressed in the design modifications we've submitted to the architect. Input from you and other Red-tail experts has been invaluable in this process and I thank you very much for it.

Thanks to E.J.'s efforts this process is moving steadily along and we are hopeful the necessary construction at the nesting site will be completed soon.

My best,

Tess Present

Tess Present, Ph.D.

Acting Director of Science

Senior Scientist, Ecology & Conservation Science

Here's the email I just returned to her:


Thank you for your note regarding my nest site design concerns. Having bred and raised redtailed hawks in captivity, and having participated in a number of comprehensive field studies of wild redtails, I believe my concerns and observations are cogent.

I applaud all that Audubon is doing in regard to this event. I'm a past local Audubon President and am aware of your efforts.

And give my regards to Mike Burger at Cornell. Mike's a former student of mine.

Keep me posted on any matter of concern.


John A. Blakeman

Having worked with Audubon people (I was a chapter president and founding member of a very active Audubon Society in my area) I am aware of the mindset of those in higher-up position. In short, it often borders on arrogance. There are no other experts than theirs. I'm not at all surprised that they are keeping this insider their private huddle. You watch. When it's all done and the nest is back and the pair is breeding, Audubon is going to take full credit for the restoration. I've seen this before.

I don't desire any notoriety for any of this. I just want the pair breeding again. But the efforts of you, the Pale Male website, and all the others must be recognized. Were it not for your book, in the first place, the nest would likely be gone for good.

Lastly, one of NYC Audubon's probable concerns about allowing my participation in design review may revolve around my posted involvement as a falconer. Many Auduboners feel that falconry should have no place in modern wildlife activities. This contrary view is, of course, discounted by that fact that it was falconers who perfected the captive breeding of peregrines, perfected peregrine breeding nestboxes, and provided captivity bred peregrines for the very successful peregrine reintroduction effort of the 1980s and 90s. Because of the falconers' efforts, peregrines breed all over New York City and in most large American cities. The bird is no longer endangered. Without falconers' expertise in reintroduction and nesting promotion efforts, the bird would likely be extirpated in eastern North America as a breeding bird.

So, I wouldn't be surprised if NYC Audubon has some personal issues here. Whatever. At least they've heard my design concerns, and I presume that the "guardrail" will stay low and unobtrusive.

Keep me posted, as best you can.


John A. Blakeman