I started blogging about birds of prey five years ago out of frustration over what at the time I called the "cult of Pale Male". While New York had a thriving breeding American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon and Red-tailed Hawk population, all we heard in the media was about two Red-tailed Hawks on the east side, Pale Male and Lola.
They were a great pair, but their notoriety and good luck, caused the public to overlook the issues birds of prey have in the city: poisoned food sources, limited green space, building collisions, a shortage of safe nest locations, frounce (a disease primarily caught from eating infected pigeons) and a shortage of volunteer veterinarians, rehabilitators and facilities.
As we mourn Lola's disappearance, lets be careful not to zoom in on a few blocks of New York's wealthiest neighborhood but keep things in perspective and remember that we have a city that has once again become a home for many breeding birds of prey and is unprepared for their return.
Ruminating about what happened to Lola or arguing about a name for Pale Male's new mate isn't going to help our city's birds.
If you want to remember Lola, assist the organizations that support birds in New York City. These include a number of excellent volunteer veterinarians, rehabilitators, the NYC Parks Department and New York City Audubon. All of these resources need volunteers and donations. So, give your time and/or money!
I'm especially fond of two organizations. New York City Audubon and Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation.
New York City Audubon has been instrumental over the last few years in building a strong network of hawk watchers, park employees and rehabilitators. They have been routing calls to a list server that has quickly dispatched volunteers to pick up injured birds of prey. In the last few weeks there have been a few great rescues by the group including two young Red-tailed Hawks. One stuck in an air shaft on the Lower East Side and one trapped in the New York Times atrium.
On a broader front, New York City Aububon has been fighting to include "bird safety guidelines" in the standards for green buildings. Many of the new high-tech "green" buildings end up being bird killers, due their inappropriate use of glass windows and lighting.
Information about New York City Audubon membership registration, volunteer opportunities and how to make donations can be found on their website, www.nycaudubon.org.
Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation is my other favorite organization. Run as a labor of love, by Cathy and Bobby Horvath and their supporters, this Long Island couple nurses back to life dozens of birds and other animals each year.
If you’d like to make a monetary donation, checks can be made out to “Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation” and sent to:
202 N. Wyoming Avenue
North Massapequa, NY 11578
After using an alternate cavity for a few days, the park's last Eastern Screech-Owl was sunning in her usual spot today. She flew out fairly late and slowly moved through the North Woods. We were able to track her for thirty minutes and about 250 yards.
Some images of Pale Male's new mate hanging out on a favorite spot of Lola's at 79th and Fifth Avenue.
Today, I discovered that it's not just a single Peregrine Falcon that has been hanging out on the Eldorado towers, but a pair. One was on the north towe and the other on the south tower, before one moved to a ledge lower down on the building.
(Pale Male has been spending time just below the Reservoir. I wonder if he's keeping an eye on these new neighbors?)
On the building just north of Pale Male's nest on Fifth Avenue was this Red-tailed Hawk this afternoon. I assume it is Lola's replacement.
Late on Friday, I saw two hawks in the Locust Grove just west of the Great Lawn, an adult peering down on a juvenile on the ground. The juvenile had a squirrel and waited until the adult left to begin eating it.
Later, just before sunset, an adult hawk came down from a Fifth Avenue perch, to harass a juvenile eating a bird on Pilgrim Hill. They both paid no attention to the numerous sledders on the hill.
The adult actually took some of the prey away from the juvenile. I lost track of the juvenile but was able to track the adult as it went from tree to tree before settling on a tree just south of 72nd Street, due south from the Pilgrim statue.
The adult hawk from Pilgrim Hill may be the new mate of Pale Male. Lola hasn't been seen since mid-December and is unfortunately presumed dead.
On Saturday, my late afternoon visit to Central Park started with a Peregrine Falcon on top of the southern tower of The Eldorado on Central Park West.
It ended with my standard visit to the North Wood's Eastern Screech-Owl. I got a glimpse at what might be a band on her, although it was hardly certain.
River Otters are totally off topic for this blog, but whenever I photograph them, I want to share the images of them. Pictures taken at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers.
The second bird I saw in SW Florida, also at Harns Marsh was a female Snail Kite. She gave me goosebumps. She was a great flier and snail hunter.