I got to see the new hawk that has come into Pale Male's territory after Lima's death. She was on the Oreo building when I arrivered, did a large circle that when up and down 5th Avenue and over Cedar Hill. When she returned to perch on the Woody building, she had a pigeon. It was unclear if it came from Pale Male or if she caught it on her own. While I was there from about 5-6 p.m., I didn't see Pale Male.
I rarely write an editorial but I feel strongly about the issue of how hawk remains are handled in the city and felt like I needed to write something.
In New York State, there are strict guidelines about how to handle the remains of dead raptors. For health purposes, they must be disposed of quickly and properly. If an animal is suspected of having died due to environmental issues, the NYS DEC must be contacted, and arrangements made with the agency for testing.
In addition, individuals may not possess hawk remains without permission. To protect the poaching of hawks, it is illegal to possess hawk feathers without a permit.
(There are exceptions, such as scientific studies, but these are approved by the DEC. Also, if the bird is suspected as having a disease, such as West Nile Virus, it should be turned over to the local health department.)
Once remains are turned over to the NYS DEC, they test the bird at their discretion. If the bird is not a threatened species, the NYS DEC may not test the animal. As much as an individual may want to force the NYS DEC to perform a necropsy on a specific bird, it is not the individual's choice under current regulations.
Lincoln Karim's holding onto the remains of Lima prompted his arrest. This was an entirely appropriate by the NYS DEC. It doesn't make sense to have individuals running around with hawk remains. It potentially destroys the evidence of an environmental problem and if the bird had a contagious disease, it could spread it.
If the hawk watching community want all New York City hawk remains to be tested to identify possible rodenticide or pesticide issues, they should do some fund raising. I'm sure NYC Audubon or other local organizations would happily provide the scientific staff support for a long term study of hawk deaths in the city, if the hawk watching community funded it.
Individuals like Lincoln Karim can't act on their own. They must work within the system. To do that you need to build bridges with local rehabbers, the Central Park Conservancy, the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, local birding organizations and the scientific community.
In closing, I'd like to thank the NYS DEC officers for doing their jobs. Lima's death should result in newspaper articles about the quality of city's environment and how it effects birds, not about those who are obsessed with them. I'm tired of seeing articles in the paper about crazy hawk watchers rather than the joy of experiencing these birds make a comeback in the city or detailing the hazards hawks face daily.
Lima, Pale Male's most recent mate, was found dead in Central Park yesterday. Pale Male was already being courted by a new female on Sunday.
We should be careful not to jump to any conclusions about Lima's cause of death. Until the initial necropsy results are in, neither lashing out at the Park's Department or the Central Park Conservancy, or postulating that there is some conspiracy against hawks is helpful.
I arrived at the park late in the afternoon. A pigeon was caught and shared, but otherwise it was quiet. I understand in the morning, there were visits to the nest and copulation. Spring isn't too far away.
I finally had a chance to make it over to the American Museum of Natural History to see the Rufous Hummingbird that has stayed through the winter. It belongs much further west, so it's been a treat for New York birders all season.
It was a slow day, until dusk at Washington Square. There was some high flying, some nest visits, a half hearted hunt before Bobby and Rosie roosted next to each other for the night.
This evening was kind of quiet with Bobby perched on a building on the west side of the park, and then the cross. The only action had been a Peregrine Falcon which made a brief visit.
But then came Rosie to join Bobby. Bobby went across the park and back and landed on top of Rosie. The copulation lasted the few seconds it always does.
Then both went off to roost for evening.
A two hour drive from New York City is the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, an old airstrip that is now a National Wildlife Refuge. This time of year it is home to a number of Short-Eared Owls that appear about an hour before sunset.
Tonight, I saw six. It was a life bird for me!
(The refuge is currently closed to pedestrians, as they are reseeding. The pictures are a little blurry due to the distance they were taken from.)
The hawks stayed high above Washington Square this Sunday afternoon. Perches included One Fifth Avenue, the cross on the church, flagpoles and balconies. They must have eaten earlier because neither bird seemed interested in hunting.
Saturday was full of activity with both hawks being seen for most of the afternoon.
Rosie hunted and caught a small rodent at 3rd and LaGuardia. This area is heavily baited with rat poison, so it isn't the best spot for her to hunt. (There is speculation in the scientific community, that in addition to secondary poisoning of hawks from rat poison, it may led to infertility. I have wondered if the failure of two out of the three eggs last year might have been an issue with rodenticides,)
I didn't witness any copulation, but both hawks visited the nest on Saturday.
Late this afternoon, Rosie shared here leftovers with Bobby on the southeast corner of the Washington Square Arch. The rat must have been huge, since the leftovers were a meal in themselves.
After the meal was over there were some wonderful flights including a stop over by both of them on One Fifth. They were out of view, so it was unclear if they copulated. One or possibly two Peregrine Falcons appeared and the hawks split up to defend the park.
The only Washington Square hawk I saw to day was Rosie. She was watching Rock Pigeons get fed when I first saw her and then she made a number of wide sweeps a few blocks north and east of the park. It's going to take finding someone in One Fifth or the East Brevoort with an eastern view to help us figure out where she's going. For now it's a mystery where she's going when she goes Northeast out of the park.
The area around Rosie's right eye is slightly different than her left. I don't know the cause but you can see the area below her right eye is different than one would expect. It's been like this since we first saw her in December.
I arrived in the late afternoon to find both hawks high above the park. The were on the radar dishes to the east, the balconies of 2 Fifth Avenue on the north, and the nest and cross on the south of the park.
The hawks both flew far to the east at the time they would normally roost. Rosie disappeared as she usually does, and Bobbie returned west to a familiar roost location.
The Washington Square hawks took their time arriving in the square this evening, waiting until just before sunset to appear. There was a visit to the nest with a rearrangement of a brown paper bag. Then Bobby roosted in a familiar place.
I haven't been up to Riverside Park since last summer, so I decided to make a visit. The female has a new mate to replace the one poisoned last year. He's banded and when possible, I'll try and read the numbers.
The female was rebuilding the nest when I arrived. She brought at least three branches to the nest before going off to join her mate on the Normandy building.
This afternoon in Washington Square was fun. Both hawks were very easy to find and for the first time, I got to see the nearby Peregrine Falcon in detail. The Peregrine Falcon is a juvenile and may be roosting on 100 Bleecker Street, an I. M. Pei designed, International Style building used for NYU faculty housing.
Bobby roosted on MacDougal street building this evening. It's a noisy perch, but does have a view of 100 Bleecker!