The second fledgling of the Washington Square Park nest was returned to the park yesterday afternoon after its adventure in a NYU classroom and rehab. I found it this evening on University Place.
It started out on the window ledges of 19 University Place, wrapping around the building from University Place to Eight Street. It then flew to eastern wing of The Brevoort. It tried to land on a ninth floor windows ledge, but misjuded the width of the ledge. It tried to readjust but floated down to a second floor terrace.
After about five minutes it jumped up to the railing of the terrace. Eventually, it flew back down University Place and landed on scaffolding in front of the Weinstein Residence Hall. After about ten minutes, it went into a Gingko tree, where I suspect it roosted for the night.
In the middle of the night, a NYU Public Safety officer found a Washington Square Park fledgling in an NYU classroom. The proper folks were called, and Rob Mastrianni, an Urban Park Ranger with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation responded in the middle of the night. He captured the bird and at dawn released it into the park. It did not fly off, so it was transfered to WINORR on Long Island.
While there has been much frustration with NYU's decision not to install a camera this year, the NYU Public Safety staff has taken its role to protect the fledgings very seriously over the years. They deserve our thanks yet again.
Rob Mastrianni, who responsed in the middle of the night, also deserves our thanks. He loves raptors and will do almost anything in any neighborhood of the city to help out, on or off duty. Thanks Rob.
And of course the Horvath's deserve our thanks most of all. WINORR does wonders in New York City. Thanks Cathy and Bobby.
Over the next few days, while Cathy and Bobby get the fledgling a check-up, and give the fledgling some time to grow up and be a better flier so it can be returned to the park safely, we'll see the parents searching for their youngster. I know from past experience this can be difficult to watch.
When Ziggy fledged too early, off 888 7th Avenue a few years ago, there were outcries to have him returned quickly. But the Horvath's decision to wait a week to return the fledgling, ended up in the best possible outcome, a great family reunion and a fledgling that safely spent the summer in Central Park.
So, please try to avoid any monday morning quarterbacking, and let the Horvath's do their jobs.
(The Horvath's also have the male from the Cathedral of St. John in their care as well as a very sick eyass from the Bronx. I'm so thankful for what they do.)
Update 6/10: The fledgling was returned to the park and is doing fine.
Three nests had fledges today, Fifth Avenue, St. John the Divine and Washington Square. For Washington Square it was the second fledge.
This evening, I got to see the first and second Washington Square Park fledglings. The first fledgling had made it to the safety of the NYU Pless Hall roof. The second and newest fledgling was doing its best to hide in a small tree west of the Bocce Court.
Both fledglings looked healthy. (You know you've watching hawks to long when you study video for signs of Frounce.) The second fledgling seemed to be having some trouble getting to higher branches, but that's not too unusual for a hawk's first day off the nest.
The eyasses at Washington Square Park are almost ready to fledge. They're jump flapping and flying well on the ledge but seem to tucker out a bit too quickly to be leaving the nest just yet.
They've been hiding in the back corners, so don't be surprised if you don't see them when you visit. It's easy to think at least one has fledged sometimes!
The eyasses are starting to lose their white feathers. It's amazing how fast they grow. From a hatchling to a nearly full grown bird in 45 days. It was a quiet evening with the parents taking a long break on the cross. One of eyasses ventured a long way out on the window ledge. Other than that not much happened while I was observing.
In the morning, I visited Randall's Island nest. I couldn't see any sign of hawks, but if they've gone back to the old nest, the female can hide fairly well. There's also a good chance that the pair moved, given the Peregrine Falcon nest nearby.
I then went to Tompkins Square Park, which is still a few days from hatching. Both hawks there looked healthy. Locals estimate the hatch date to be May 10th.
Then it was off to Washington Square to see how things were going. As usual, they continue to grow bigger and bigger. They can stand briefly and feather shafts are visable on their wings.
The eyasses at Washington Square Park are getting easier and easier to see with each passing day. I caught up with them on a windy Friday. The video is very shaky but is fun none the less.
It looks like we're going to have a record number of successful nests in Manhattan this year, although it looks like after the cold winter we may have more nests with one or two eyasses rather than three. I can't wait for us to get an accurate count. I suspect we'll end up having at least fifty Red-tailed Hawks in Manhattan by the time the last nest hatches. Plus we have many more in the other boroughs.
Too bad folks still only think about Pale Male when you talk about Red-tailed Hawks in New York City!
When hawks are sitting on eggs, not much happens. If you're lucky you'll be watching when the female wants to take a brief break from her egg sitting duties. But only if you're lucky.
Tonight, I had no such luck at Washington Square Park! Bobby was on One Fifth Avenue briefly, and Rosie was on the nest. Her head is slightly visible to the left of black window frame and her tail feathers peak out on the right. She didn't even get up to stretch while I was at the park!
Based on the behavior of Rosie and Bobby tonight, we may have an egg in the Washington Square nest. Rosie was sitting on the nest when I arrived, took a slight break, returned to the nest and quickly left with some food.
Then Bobby copulated with her, as she was still eating and he relieved her on the nest, as she continued her meal. Then they switched places and he eat the leftovers.
Rosie continues to overnight on the nest, and the pair continues to copulate and work on the nest. However, we don't have Rosie sitting during the day yet. This means we're all set, but the eggs haven't arrived just yet.
So, the Washington Square hawk watcher are all keeping an eye out for behavior changes. It looks like this year Pale Male and Octavia uptown may have beaten Rosie and Bobbie for the first eggs!
It was a beautiful day in Washington Square Park on Saturday, with warmer weather and plenty of sunshine. The hawks made lots of nest visits, with the hawks bringing paper and twigs to tidy up. They copulated on the Silver Building. Both hawks soared and soared above the park as if to celibrate the warm day.
Tonight at dusk both hawks were in Washington Square, one on the nest and one on buildings on the west side of the park. The one on the buildings, took off after an American Kestrel and returned.
The hawks then went over to Silver and copulated, with one of them roosting on the building for the night. Looks like we'll have Rosie over-nighting on the nest soon.
I got confirmation on Wednesday, that my interpretation of the Parks Department and Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting regulations, that tripods may be used without a permit in all city parks, was correct. So, I'll be able to continue in filming in Washington Square Park.
I am still concerned about the ambiguity of the Parks Department's regulations and their website pages surounding photography. Every photographer I know with a large telephoto lens has been hassled at least once by a Parks Department employee without cause. I have to decide if I want to collect enough documentation to prove that what I experienced last Sunday was the norm for photographers in city parks, and pursue the matter futher.
But for now the good news is that I'm safe to photograph Rosie and Bobby in the park again.
Around 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, I was asked to stop filming in Washington Square Park by a New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol Officer. He said I could not use a tripod in Washington Square. Not one to argue with any law enforcement officer, I left the park, having just missed filming Rosie and Bobby copulate.
Here is the letter I'll be sending to Liam Kavanagh, Acting Commissioner, Department of Parks & Recreation, The City of New York:
Department of Parks & Recreation
The City of New York
830 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10065
I'm sorry to report that on March 2, 2014 between 2 and 3 p.m., a Parks Enforcement Patrol Officer, C. Cassiano insisted that I stop filming a pair of Red-tailed Hawks in Washington Square Park, because I was using a tripod.
Before we get to the legal issues of your officer infringing on my 1st Amendment Rights, I should introduce myself. I’m D. Bruce Yolton, a Vice-President at Macmillan Publishers, and a long time bird and hawk watcher in New York City parks. I’ve worked over the years with many members of the Parks Department, especially the Urban Park Rangers.
I’m also an active blogger, with a very popular Urban Hawks (urbanhawks.com) blog. To create the content for this blog, I’ve used a tripod in city parks, almost every other day for over nine years. I’ve done so in the presence of almost the entire staff of the Urban Park rangers, and numerous Parks Department employees.
So, let’s get on to the legal issues. I find it incredibly ironic that Officer Cassiano decided to tell me I couldn’t use a tripod in Washington Square Park, because I was one of the many individuals who helped influence the current policies of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting, MOFTB.
In 2006-8, in response to litigation supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the MOFTB was asked to create clear guidelines to separate the 1st Amendment protected uses of photography in the city which did not require a permit, with those that needed a permit from the MOFTB. As part of this process, MOFTB first proposed a set of onerous regulations and made them available for public comment.
The proposed regulations included a requirement that any use of a tripod for more than ten minutes required a permit and that one had to apply for the permit for each tripod use. One could not register as a nature photographer and get a multi-use permit under the guidelines. This effectively meant the end to raptor photography in New York City, because who know in advance where a bird would be! There would be no way to apply for a permit.
So, I like many others participated in the public comment period. My comments even ended up in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/04/nyregion/04filmmakers.html), after the MOFTB agreed to revise the regulations.
The crux of the legal issue is how do you regulate commercial film production and still protect 1st Amendment rights? It was wisely decided that a photographer who could hand carry his equipment, was clearly covered by the 1st Amendment, and it was reasonable to require a permit when the amount of equipment was more substantial than one person could hand carry.
The approved MOFTB regulations (http://rules.cityofnewyork.us/content/section-9-02-processing-permit-applications), in § 9-02, define hand-held devices as follows:
“’Hand-held devices’ shall mean (i) film, still or television cameras, videocameras, or other equipment which are held in the photographer’s or filmmaker’s hand carried at all times with the photographer or filmmaker during the course of filming, or (ii) tripods used to support film, still television cameras or videocameras. Hand-held devices shall not include cables or any items or equipment not carried by the photographer or filmmaker at all times during the course of photography, filming or transmission.”
So, let’s back to the matter of Officer Cassiano and his insistence that tripods can’t be used without a permit in Washington Square Park.
Officer Cassiano sited the following parks regulation,
§1-05 Regulated Uses
e. Unauthorized commercial cinematic productions
2. Filming or photography not requiring a permit.
Any person or entity engaging in filming or photography in a park, where such activity does not require a permit under the permit requirement rules of MOFTB, may engage in such activity without obtaining a permit from that Office.
In addition, any person or entity engaging in filming or photography involving only the use of handheld devices (as defined in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of §9-02 of the MOFTB permit rules) that takes place in an area under the Department's jurisdiction that is not a sidewalk, pathway, street, or walkway of a bridge need not obtain a MOFTB permit. Nothing herein shall be deemed to relieve such person or entity of the obligation to obtain a permit from the Department if such activity involves conduct otherwise requiring a permit pursuant to any other rule of the Department.
I can understand the officer’s confusion. How would he know that “handheld devices” (as defined in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of § 9-02 of the MOFTB permit rules)”, included tripods? He wouldn’t given the poor wording of Parks Department’s regulation, especially since the phrase “handheld devices” has a completely different meaning in 2014, then it did when the MOFTB regulation was drafted in 2007.
However, the whole point of the NYCLU litigation was to ensure that the citizens of New York City could go about documenting the city free of harassment by knowing exactly when and when they didn’t need a permit. And if they needed a permit, the permitting process was fair, permits were easy to apply for and the process was appropriately transparent.
So, we can go in two directions…
The Parks Department can acknowledge to me:
In addition, the Park’s legal department may want to consider a revision of the language of the “§1-05 Regulated Uses” section regarding “Unauthorized commercial cinematic productions” to clarify the language which caused the confusion. It should explicitly include language that tripod usage is permitted, and clear up language about locations, which I believe oversteps the MOFTB regulations.
Furthermore, your legal department might also want to revise the unconstitutional language about Film Shoot Requests, which is overly broad, at http://www.nycgovparks.org/permits/film-shoot-request. No Federal judge would allow you to have a sentence that says, “To film or photograph in New York City parks, you must first receive clearance from the administrative authority of that park before submitting the appropriate application with the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting at www.nyc.gov/film.”
Or, I can ask the NYCLU to confirm that the Parks Department is in violation of City’s 2007 settlement, and ask this matter be taken to Federal court.
Since my equipment, a tripod/camera/600mm lens, fully meets § 9-02 of the MOFTB regulations concerning “handheld equipment”, and thus is in compliance with the Parks Department “§1-05 Regulated Uses” section regarding “Unauthorized commercial cinematic productions”, I will continue to use a tripod when I photograph in all city parks.
If I continue to be harassed by PEP officers in any city park for using a tripod, I will not hesitate to take the Parks Department to Federal court, for infringing on my 1st Amendment rights.
Thank you for your attention in this matter,
D. Bruce Yolton
CC: Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director
Christopher Dunn, NYCLU Associate Legal Director
Robert Reeves, NYC Parks Department, Inspector, Parks Enforcement Patrol
Alessandro Olivieri, NYC Parks Department, General Counsel/Records Access Appeals Officer
Sunset is now late enough that I can run down to Washington Square after work. Tonight I got to see some string brought to the nest but then some string removed. Both hawks were on the nest, but they quickly made a trip south of the Bobst Library. I found them again minutes later at a favorite roost site.
Last year this pair nested in early March, so regardless of the weather, we might have eggs soon.
(I've received a few emails about the status of the NYU Hawkcam. I have no idea. Last year NYU was kind enough to continue the camera feed started by the New York Times. It will be up to Dr. Sexton and the NYU Public Relations department, if it is to be set up again this year.)
I arrived at Washington Square with some good luck today. I had one in sight even before I got to the park. Then I had them either Bobby or Rosie in sight until sunset. They shared food on the Law School and spent a great deal of time on 3rd Street. They showed me some perches I hadn't seen before, and gave the slip at sunset. I couldn't find them at any of the known roosts.
Tonight, I had the pleasure of watching Rosie and Bobby go to roost on a fire escape a few blocks from the nest. I have visited the park a few times this month and not found the hawks, so it was nice this night to watch them for over an hour. After striking out a few times, it was good to have a home run.