Thursday, June 14, 2007
Charlotte and Junior's Eyass-The Ziegfield Follies
A wing and a prayer
Stranded baby hawk brings midtown to a screeching halt
BY NICOLE BODE DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, June 14th 2007, 11:14 AM
A downy red-tailed hawk plunged from the sky after leaving its nest for the first time yesterday.
Urban Park Rangers director Sara Hobel holds the rescued fledging after it was found on a courtyard near the famed Ziegfeld Theater on W. 55th St. The bird was taken to a sanctuary on Long Island.
Our feathered friend
Red-tailed hawk nests in city: 45
Wingspan: 42-56 inches
Length: 17-25 inches
Weight: 1.5 to 3.3 pounds
First Flight: Six-seven weeks old
Age expectancy: 28 years
Offspring: Usually hatch two chicks each spring
Most famous red-tailed hawks: Lola and Pale Male of Fifth Ave.
How many New Yorkers does it take to save a fallen baby bird?
For a downy red-tailed hawk that plunged from the sky after leaving its nest for the first time yesterday, it took practically an army.
Nine cops, three city Parks Department rangers, a volunteer from the Audubon Society, a licensed hawk rehabilitator, a half-dozen good Samaritans, a homeless man, a gaggle of paparazzi and 50 gawkers converged at a midtown courtyard after the brown-and-white speckled bird touched down.
"People were taking pictures of it like it was Angelina Jolie," said Chris Ferretti, who was walking his dogs when he spotted the bird huddled against the back wall of the famed Ziegfeld Theater on W. 55th St.
The only-in-New-York saga began around 8 a.m. yesterday, when several people saw the dazed hawk struggling to fly away. The bird seemed desperate to get off the ground. Natural predators were everywhere.
Moments later, a homeless man picked up the bird and tried to run away with it.
But he didn't get far.
"There was an angry mob and we were like, 'Where you going with that bird?'" said Ferretti, 44.
The vagrant placed the hawk back on the pavement and slipped away.
Over the next 90 minutes, concerned onlookers called Animal Care and Control, the Bronx Zoo, the city Parks Department, the Audubon Society and anyone else they could think of to come rescue the hawk.
"I never thought it would be so hard to get anyone to help," said Dora Amerio, 34, an accountant from Astoria.
Finally, about 10 a.m., three cops from the Midtown North Precinct blocked off the courtyard to keep pedestrians away from the bird. Soon after, the NYPD's elite Emergency Service Unit truck rolled up.
Almost simultaneously, a volunteer from the Audubon Society, a freelance licensed bird rehabilitator from upstate New York and three uniformed members of the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers arrived.
Another hawk, perhaps the chick's mother or father, was seen circling high above the courtyard. But Sara Hobel, the director of the Urban Park Rangers, said the older hawk did not dive down to feed the baby because it was surrounded by so many people.
All of them wanted to rescue the little bird.
"It's like it's a custody fight," said Sarah Iams, the Audubon society volunteer who is trained to rescue injured wild birds.
Iams added, "The largest thing I've ever saved is a sea gull."
The would-be rescuers conferred and the Parks Department won out. Rangers covered the bird in a blanket and whisked it away to their E. 105th St. headquarters to check for injuries — but found none.
The bird is not related to the city's most famous red-tailed hawks, Pale Male and Lola, who won the hearts of New Yorkers by making their nest atop a Fifth Ave. co-op. Hobel said she traced yesterday's hawk to a nest near Central Park South and Seventh Ave.
Bird watchers had spotted the hawk taking its maiden flight from the nest some time late Tuesday, Hobel said.
With the overnight storm, it's likely the hawk got disoriented and crashed into a building and then fell to the ground. Its weak flight skills kept it trapped in the courtyard, Hobel said.
Many fledglings falter during the first flight, she explained. Typically, the hawk parents will fly down to their chicks and feed them until they get their strength back up and can fly again.
If the baby bird hadn't been rescued, it probably would have died of dehydration or injury, Hobel said. Only about 15% to 25% of fledglings survive their first year. But this hawk's going to be fine, rescuers said.
By 2 p.m., the hawk was on its way to a trusted rehabilitator on Long Island. When it's rehydrated and ready to fly, the bird will be brought back to the city and released, hopefully within the next few days, near Central Park South.
"He will find his way back to his nest," Hobel predicted. "The most important thing for us it to educate people that we're the right people to call."
Unless Charlotte and Junior's eyass was injured, which does not seem to be the case so far, she should have been walked to the south end of Central Park so the guarding parents could see what was happening. They were watching her as a Red-tail was circling above. When arriving at the southern end of the park the eyass should have been helped to a high enough branch where well meaning people could not "help" her. Her parent would then have proceeded to take care of her, even if some people were standing around. They did in 2005. Even if her parents didn't see where she went, the minute one flew over her in the park, they'd be looking, she would have begun begging loudly, and the same would have ensued. Her parents would have found her and begun to take care of her.
My fear is that too long a lag will occur before she is released, if she is going to be released , and Charlotte and Junior will not have been cued properly so they recognize and care for her. Red-tail parents as the Hawk Watchers know, not only feed their young for a good bit of time after fledging they also teach them to hunt...that ability is not innate.
Well Folks, an important part of being a hawk watcher is to help others learn about them too. Numerous are the misconceptions. Therefore how many hawk related inaccuracies can you find in the above article that perhaps someone without your interest in hawks might not recognize ?