Violet Passes Away
My First 2012 Visit To Washington Square

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year. 

Please be happy hawk watchers! 

Hawk watching is great fun but recently there has been a lot of negativity on some hawk watching blogs and chat rooms in New York City.  I usually let these things go, but these spats are distracting us from the real raptor issues in New York City -- protecting nest sites, limiting rodenticide usage and supporting local rehabbers.

New York has real issues right now.  For example, in Riverside Park the local community is putting pressure on park management to greatly increase rodenticide usage in the park.  The park's management would like to control the rodents while protecting the hawks by focusing on improving sanitation rather than putting out poisons.  However it doesn't have funding to replace its wire trash cans throughout the park with rodent resistant models.  Believe it or not, replacing the trash cans would cost over $100,000!

Is the hawk watching community doing anything to support Riverside Park management?  A few are writing letters of support, but that's about it.  Instead bloggers and chat room users are arguing about hawk names, tree management policies, bird banding, false I.D.s and making provocative statements.

Please don't squabble over issues that don't matter.  It's more than a waste of time and energy.  It prevents us from addressing the real issues and reduces our credibility as a lobbying group.

Over the last few months these false issues have included:

  • What hawk watcher should call the new female at Washington Square.  It doesn't matter!  Wild animals don't have names.  We're just giving them nick names so we can talk about them.  If one person uses one name and someone else uses another, who cares?

    Better yet, why doesn't someone take a leadership role and auction off rights to name her?  Maybe an individual or a chat room could raise some money for the trash cans in Riverside Park!
  • Attacks on banding.  Bands have been placed on birds for decades, and have provided important information to scientists helping conservation efforts.  The issue with Violet's band is still unclear.  It was an isolated issue that could easily have been a complication due to an injury rather than the placement of a band that was too small.  There is no reason to personally attack regulators of bird banding.  It just poisons any possible partnership that might be needed in the future.
  • Central Park staff have been attacked for removing trees after three large storms.  Central Park has bedrock very close to ground level.  It creates situations where 100 year old trees may only have roots 8 feet deep.  This problem requires the park to remove trees which look healthy, but have become a risk to human life.
    There is no hidden agenda needing a FOIL request.  This is appropriate tree management, which at times can include removing older trees, and replanting. 
  • False I.D.s.  Over the last few months, bloggers who live outside of New York City, have been looking at photographs and saying things like "Oh, that hawk in Washington Square looks like that hawk in Tompkins Square Park."  This might increase blog traffic, but it just confuses people, and frustrates those that watch the hawks in person.

So, if you care about hawks, please keep to the real issues which primarily are protecting nest sites, limiting rodenticide usage and supporting local rehabbers!