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