Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pale Male and Lola in NEW YORK CURIOSITIES

A while back, out of the blue, I got an email from a writer named Cindy Perman, . She was finishing up a book called New York Curiosities and she was including a section on Pale Male and Lola. C.P. said she liked what she saw on the blog and asked if we could make a deal about use of one of my photos to illustrate the Pale Male and Lola portion.

After making sure she wouldn't be making fun of the Monarch of Central Park and his mate, and numerous hilarious emails, Perman can be very funny as is the book, the deal was on. The photo above was the one that went into New York Curiosities.

In the meantime, I learned that Steve Baldwin of who takes birders and the curious on the Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safaris in Greenwood Cemetery was also featured.

It looked like urban birds were getting their share of ink.

Then yet again, I heard from Cindy Perman, come to the Press Party! Astoundingly, I did. And it was a hoot. No pun intended.

Steve Baldwin sang his Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots. And I finally got to meet him.

We'd been emailing back and forth for years and had never met. Sometimes it just takes a book to get one out of one's burrow, oops, I mean, borough, of course.

And wonder of wonders, Natalia Paruz, the Saw Lady, , was there. We'd worked together on a P.D.Q. Bach show at Carnegie Hall or was it Avery Fisher, some years back.
Now this saw playing thing isn't just silliness.
Natalia is a virtuoso of the carpenter saw. She makes the most haunting eerie and beautiful music. I mean they gave her a medal of honor in Paris and that's no joke. Though people have been known to laugh in delight.

And Todd Robbins, community activist of Coney Island, and the man who spearheaded the Sideshow School, pounded a nail up his nose. Curious but also hilarious.
Then there were the local New Yorkers who came up to me and told me about their personal encounters with Pale Male in Central Park. Now we know that sometimes other hawks in the park are mistaken for Pale Male, but that was unlikely the case with my favorite PM story of the evening.
A Buddhist Monk came up to me and said, that one day he'd been running in the park. He was feeling out of sorts and didn't really know what to do with himself. He sat down on a big rock and thought, should I go to the temple, what should I do? He decided he'd sit right there on the rock until the spirit moved him. Well who should appear but Pale Male who, characteristically unfazed, perched in a tree next to the monk's rock and sat there. As the monk said, "It turned out the spirit didn't move me, it told me to stay put." And he did, just sitting at peace with Pale Male.
Curious but wonderful and there are many more stories of wonderful, talented, brave, funny, undaunted people in the book who have gone with their creativity and done all sorts of marvelous things no matter what anyone said.
And isn't that just the sort of people we like?
Birders being thought more than a little fringey themselves in some people's eyes, and hawk watchers even more so.
Hey, I'm not missing any of these people.
I'm starting New York Curiosities tonight.
And not to be outdone, on my walk home , there were some of our friends the pigeons at 11:30 PM cleaning up the street. Aren't they supposed to be diurnal? I've seen this curiosity before though rarely.
The night foraging 42nd. St. pigeons.
Remember the blog I did about diurnal animals who could switch their "clocks" and become nocturnal if the food source changed from day to night? I'm not completely sure, but I think the night pigeons may only be nocturnal on Friday and Saturday night but I'm going to have to check to make sure.
Now some might find me checking the activity of nocturnal pigeons
rather curious, but then again, they would be the people who weren't curious at all.
Donegal Browne


Sally said...

Dear Donna,
Is 42nd Street ever really DARK? The Times Square area certainly isn't, at least not when I've been out. Perhaps those pigeons aren't diurnal, they just don't know its night!

Saw Lady said...

Hi Donegal,

Thank you for your kind words.
It was such a lovely surprise seeing you at the party yesterday!

I'm going to feed the birds in my back yard now - there are no hawks/parrots/pigeons... but we do have cardinals!
It was cool meeting 3 different bird people last night.

All the best,

Natalia (the 'Saw Lady')

Donegal Browne said...


It's possible the birds are confused by the artificial lighting. Even though, my thought was that that part of 42nd St. at 11:30pm isn’t as bright as some other areas where there were no pigeons that evening.
But I admit that is an assumption on my part.

Anyone up to designing an experiment to be done in the bird’s current habitat that would test just what was going on with night feeding pigeons?

How would one go about testing the hypothesis that those particular pigeons had become nocturnal due to their ability to get more food after dark?

Or test your thought that because of the lighting on the street, the birds had become confused as to when it was daylight, and when it was night?

Donegal Browne said...


You are most welcome and it's grand to hear from you on the blog.

Excellent to hear that you're feeding the birds and I envy you your Cardinals. But are you sure you don't have any hawks out there? :-)

I have a Cooper's Hawk in the Wisconsin backyard that comes stealthily just before dark and tries for my cardinals and doves.