Saturday, March 10, 2012

Intrepid. the Riverside Mom is Dead-UPDATED

Photo by Donegal Browne

  Intrepid, the Riverside Mom was found dead beneath the tree in which her nest had been built.  There were no apparent injuries.

We called her Intrepid as her first nest, which eventually fell, was situated far out on a limb which bobbed dangerously in the wind and "out on limb" was where she as an urban hawk intrepidly attempted to live her life and where she lost it after loosing eyasses to poison, fledglings to speeding cars and her mate poisoned as well.

 We shall miss her courage, her beauty and her perseverance.
May she now rest, finally at peace.

Photo by Donegal Browne
Photo by Donegal Browne

Third hawk found dead in Manhattan park

All three hawks appeared to be healthy and uninjured

Comments (5)

For the third time in less than two weeks, a hawk has been found dead in a Manhattan park.
The female hawk, who had nested in Riverside Park for years, was found Friday under the tree where she nested. An Urban Park Ranger picked up the body about 12:30 p.m.
The discovery comes less than two weeks after the body of Pale Male's mate, Lima, was discovered in Central Park. Another hawk was found dead in a section of Central Park near Columbus Circle last Sunday.

"They all appeared to be healthy and didn't have any traumatic injuries," said Bobby Horvath, a wildlife rehabilitator. "It's not like they were hit by a car or crashed into a building."
Horvath said it’s too soon to know for sure if the birds ate a poisoned rat or where they could have picked it up.

"They birds aren't married to these parks, they hunt outside," he said. "High-rise buildings and restaurants still use poison."

Horvath said a fourth hawk was found stumbling in the northern part of Central Park several weeks ago. It died 24 hours later.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is conducting tests on the dead birds to determine if they were felled by poison or something else.

Birdwatchers in Riverside Park have closely followed the female hawk, who had chicks every year.
"Every year there is a tragedy with this poor bird," said Horvath, who has helped care for the hawk and her offspring over the years. "One year there was storm, the nest blew out of a tree and three babies died and last year her mate was found dead by a Dumpster."

A post script, whether Intrepid was poisoned or not, her mate and a number of her offspring have been.  Awhile back,  I was contacted by a maintenance person who works in a building adjacent to Riverside Park.  He told me that the building in which he is employed uses the second generation poison which the slightest ingested amount causes raptors to drop dead.  One bite of poisoned prey of this sort is more than enough.

 Intrepid's mate was found to have been poisoned by a compound which was not one being used in Riverside Park.  And assumption could be made that the rat which poisoned him had been poisoned by someone who laid poison in or directly around a building near to Riverside Park.

Hence not only must we be vigilant about poisons the parks may put down and stress sanitation but to find ways to educate those who live in the buildings of NYC and beyond to investigate the policies of the buildings in which they live and if necessary try to do something about the practice.

 Educating those who don't understand the issues can be instrumental in saving wildlife. In some cities citizens have distributed flyers with the facts concerning secondary poisoning, that not all rat poisons are alike, and that sanitation is the real answer.

We must all do what we can, or soon particularly when it comes to the repercussions of these second generation poisons there will be no more urban hawks. 

In  Central Park and Riverside alone, there are four dead hawks in the last month that we know of.  No we do not know that these four died of poison.  Nor do we know how many more have died in the city that we don't know about but some  will have died due to poison.  Poison that will have been laid by members of our own species who did it because of ignorance or sloth.
What can you do that will make a difference?

How the news of Intrepid, Riverside Mom's death came to the Hawk Bench--in from Katherine Herzog

While watching Pale Male and Zena on their Fifth Avenue nest from the "Hawk Bench", a Park's Ranger came over to me and told me the body of a Red-tailed hawk was found this morning on the ground in riverside Park underneath an active Red-tailed Hawk nest tree.  He strongly believed it was the female who has been using the nest for the past two years.

That's the 4th red-tail hawk death, that we know of, in Manhattan in a few weeks time-this one in Riverside Park and the other three in Central Park.

Donegal Browne

Friday, March 09, 2012

An Egg For Rosie, and Quicksilver, the African Grey, Does the Electric Can Opener


For Bobby and Rosie, One Egg in the Nest


There is an egg in the nest.
The red-tailed hawks of Washington Square Park, Bobby and Rosie, are guarding an egg in their aerie on the 12th-floor ledge of Bobst Library, outside of the New York University president’s office.
Hawk Cam
Chronicling the red-tailed hawks of Washington Square Park.
The president, John Sexton, saw the egg when both birds were out of the nest on Tuesday, said John Beckman, a university spokesman.
“It is a joy that we have now added the rhythms of nature to the rhythms of an academic community,” Dr. Sexton said in statement. Just as we did last year, City Room plans to broadcast the unfolding drama of life on the ledge via our Hawk Cam.
It remains to be seen how many eggs will be in the clutch: red-tails lay as many as five.
Once incubation begins — when Rosie hunkers down over the eggs and begins warming them in earnest — the gestation period is typically 28 to 35 days, though if we use last year’s 42-day incubation period as a forecasting model, the atypical can be typical.
Since the pair were first seen together in late December, they have...

Thanks to Pondove for the heads up!

Photo  Donegal Browne
I was in the bedroom when suddenly I heard the whirring of a motor emanating from the other side of the house.  What in the world?  Was the parrot on his perch?  You've got to be kidding. Because the parrot is standing on the lever of the can opener while it errrrrrs, his weight just enough to get it going. 

 Silver is not in the least perturbed.       

Photo Donegal Browne

The results of a March snowstorm.  I very much like how the "nest" looks covered in snow.  Almost immediately the temperature soared up to the 50's, the grass has begun to green under the bird feeders, and for the last few nights every now and again, a bird sings a snatch of his species song.

Speaking of sound, just in from Robin of Illinois- and Eagle Cam with SOUND!

Donegal Browne

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Another Red-tailed Hawk Found Dead in Central Park and Good-bye to the Norfolk Botanical Eagles


Photo courtesy of

 Zena, Pale Male's new mate, flies with dinner.  Let's hope she isn't partial to NYC rats.  

We do not know what killed Pale Male's mate Ginger Lima, nor do we know what happened to the most recent Red-tail found dead in the south end of Central Park on Sunday, but as I'm told both were found unblemished the suspicion of death by poison rackets up a notch.  Yes perhaps there might have been totally different causes of death that made both the hawks drop dead but it does raise more suspicion about poison.

Though we often put singular blame on New York City's parks for using rat poison, and the ensuing deaths of many other creatures which consume rats or carrion, keep in mind that many city buildings also place rat bait as well and some of those poisoned rats kill other creatures as well, including raptors.  They don't just hunt in the parks.  I've seen them take prey off streets with no green space in sight..

Whether the latest hawk deaths were by poison or not, past deaths have been  and we know rats are actually controlled by careful methodical sanitation not the supposed quick fix of poison.

New York City would go a long way in the  reduction of secondary poisoning, not just of Red-tailed Hawks but also beloved pets and sometimes even children by passing laws which require garbage to be put out on the street for pick up in rat proof containers.

Does your building lay rat bait? Find out. Talk to your neighbors about  better alternatives.  Or in the phrase used by many many different people over many many years who try to change entrenched but no-brainer unenlightened behavior-

 Educate, Agitate, Organize!

From the New York Times City Room Blogs

March 5, 2012, 4:54 pm

Red-Tailed Hawk Found Dead in Central Park

A red-tailed hawk was found dead in Central Park on Sunday, a week after the body of Lima — a companion of the much-watched red-tail Pale Male — was discovered under a tree.

A parks department spokeswoman said the hawk found Sunday was at the south end of the park, near Columbus Circle. It was not immediately clear whether it was a male or a female. Hawk-watchers say there had been a nest outside the park, not far from where the dead hawk was retrieved by Central Park Conservancy staff members, but it was not clear whether the dead hawk was one of the pair from that nest.

Read More..

   From Sally of Kentucky, regarding the plight of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens Eagles--
What next, are they going to cut trees, or otherwise prevent eagles from nesting in the area? Are they going to poison them? Shoot or trap them? what about the hundreds of shorebirds in  the area and geese? Very sad...!/groups/47037033923/
Julie Bonner
SAD NEWS for all fans:
Today I received a short letter from Senator Mark Warner, responding to my email to him outlining my fears for the Eagle nest at NBG. On my behalf he must have written to Norfolk Airport because he enclosed a copy of a letter dated Feb 26, 2012, which they sent back to him regarding my complaints. The letter does NOT look good for the eagles!! Sr. Warner also enclosed a copy of a letter dated Feb 3, 2012, that was signed by US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Dept of Agriculture, and VGDIF and addressed to The City Mgr of Norfolk (Marcus D. Jones). This letter is 3 pages long and I have not read its entirety yet - but here is what page.3 says :

"We strongly recommend that the City of Norfolk move forward by requesting the appropriate permit to enable the removal of the bald eagles nests at NBG, as outlined in the Airport's Wildlife Hazard Management Plan and requested the Airport in correspondence to the Garden in Nov 2011. The continued presence of the nests there is a liability and poses a significant risk to public safety and the safety of the eagles. Please note that the public safety threat goes beyond those on the aircraft to people living and working in the vicinity of the airport."

"A first step in this process is the application by the City (as landowner) to the USFWS for a permit that allows for the removal of the nest. To expedite this process, a copy of the application is enclosed for your use." 
"The DGIF also has a role in authorizing the nest removal, since the bald eagle is currently designated as a state threatened species. Ms. Becky Gwynn, regional Assistant Bureau Director for DGIF, will coordinate with your office as in that regard."

"We recognize that there are other attractants for eagles around the Airport, and are working with the operations staff there to develop a more comprehensive eagle management plan to discourage eagles from nesting on properties adjacent to the Airport. We also appreciate the educational opportunity that the EagleCam has provided to the public for so many years and are certainly interested in working with the City or other partners to provide similar opportunities at another, more safe location".

"If you have any questions or need more information, please feel to contact Scott Barras, USDA-Ws, at (804) 739-7739 or via email at or Becky Gwynn at (804) 829-6720 or via email at


Donegal Browne

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Horvaths Talk to The Village Voice. Does Pale Male Ever Make a Second Choice Nest?


Wildlife Rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath Talk About Their Work In the City And Famous Hawks

Courtesy of the Horvaths

​On Monday the New York Daily News reported the on the death of Lima, New York City celebrity hawk Pale Male's mate. Often when stories -- both happy and sad -- of New York's leash-less animals pop up, we hear from wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath. The two have been rehabilitators for 25 years, but they work as volunteers. They both hold down what you might call day jobs -- he as a fireman and she as a veterinary technician -- while living with a host of animals in need of care. Currently, Bobby told Runnin' Scared, they have 50 or so animals in their home. We called up the married couple to get their reaction to recent news about Lima and other high-profile New York birds, and to learn more about what it's like caring for the city's wild creatures. 

Tell me a little bit about your work as wildlife rehabilitators in New York City?
Cathy: Well we live on Long Island, and we're volunteers. We've been rehabilitators for 25 years. We're licensed by the state and the federal government. We get calls all the time for birds of prey in the city so we travel back and forth. We were there trying to get Violet from the NYU building. That was a really long process. And not just from Manhattan. We go to Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens. We travel around.
What was your reaction when you heard about the death of Lima?
It was kind of a shock. They were just mating the day before she was found dead. It was shocking that she was dead.


Photo courtesy of Cathy Horvath
Some wildlife rehabilitators start early. Sadie Horvath at home with a red phase screech owl.

                                        Photo- Donegal Browne
AND IN ANSWER TO  RHONDA DE FARGE OF NEW YORK CITY'S QUESTION , "Did Pale Male ever make a secondary nest to give any of his mates another choice besides the nest site on 927 Fifth Avenue?"

 Pale Male  may have done it any number of times but one we do know about was in 2006  when he was observed putting a limited number of twigs in a niche on the Beresford Building. The Beresford is on the west side of the park where he and Lola tended to spend their mornings.

As far as we can tell, there was really never much of a question  whether any other site would be used.  Beyond the intermittent human intervention problems, 927 Fifth Avenue is one of the best, if not the best nest site in Manhattan, if not beyond. 

It certainly is the best site for hawkwatchers.  Not only are there long vistas in which to observe Pale Male and his mate coming into the nest, perching to hunt, fighting off intruders, keeping vigil,  or going to roost,  there are a tremendous number of comfort amenities for humans.

To list a few-

Park Benches- If you want to sit, oh those many hours observing during the hawk season,  you don't have to cart your own chair in when you come.

Food and Drink--Two snack bars, not more than a minute away. One with a roaring fireplace in winter.  And a full service white tablecloth restaurant-The Boat House, for those who'd like to splurge.

Restrooms-Three different sets, one each attached to the above mentioned food establishments. (Facilities can really be an issue at some nest sites.  You can bring your camp stool, your food, your drink, but a porta potty just doesn't fit in your back pack.)

Community--During the heat of  hawk season it has to be truly wretched weather not to find at least a few diehard watchers on the Hawk Bench who will pass on previous hawk observations of the day, new bird sightings in the park at large, and who'd been watching earlier in the day.

COMING SOON-  The amenities urban hawks appear to find important for nest placement!

Donegal Browne

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Are Charlotte and Pale Male Junior Back? Plus the Known Nest History of Junior and Charlotte. And a Favorite Pale Male Copulation Spot

                                                  Photo courtesy of
Charlotte on the nest center and Pale Male Jr. flying off the nest on the Trump Parc building, Central Park South, 2005

I was told second hand that someone had ID'd the pair building a nest on the Plaza Hotel as that Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte. They are the longtime southern Central Park pair, who were known to have built nests in that territory circa 2002 through 2010.  Others disagree.  

What do I personally think?  I just don't know.  I've not seen them so I can't give a personal opinion. 

 I've gotten in touch with some of their previous chief watchers in hope they'll compare the pair currently in residence with their memories and with photographs of Junior and Charlotte from past years. 

I do hope they are alive.  

Therefore lets look at previous photos of the pair for comparison with the current resident hawks if you see them.

Look above at how extremely dark Charlotte is, with a very heavy belly band.  The "light areas" on her breast are a dark cream color as opposed to a white.  Junior on the other hand is much lighter overall.  His belly band is scant but not as light as Pale Male's is.

Photograph by Donna Browne
  The building with the gold top is the Trump Parc on Central Park South and the Avenue of the Americas.  The nest pictured at the top was located on the third from the right corbel, in the bottom row of corbels mid-building.

(Many thanks to wonderful author and original hawkwatcher Marie Winn for investigating what that particular architectural feature is called back in 2005.)

After Pale Male and Lola's nest failed in 2005, a neighbor of the Trump Parc contacted Marie Winn and told her she was seeing hawks going back and forth to the Trump.  It had already been reported earlier in the season that once again Junior and Charlotte's eggs had blown away but as hope springs eternal Marie told me about the possibility that something was going on up there after all if I wanted to check it out.

So I packed up my equipment at the Hawk Bench and headed South.  Do keep in mind that back in 2005 Pale Male and Lola were the only successfully nesting hawks in NYC-- that we knew of.  (We've all found each other in the other boroughs and beyond since.)

As you can see from the photograph of the Trump Parc taken from the park, the nest is way way up there and the sight lines are horrible from the ground.  Not to be deterred, I found a high spot in the park with a view, set up my tripod and started to watching...and  watch.  The view was so steep from where I sat that day that if a hawk was sitting the nest or even standing deep she could not be seen.  I keep watching and going on the third hour of nothing I was getting restless and glanced over at a squirrel,  caught myself looking away, got my eye back on the nest just as a HAWK flew in from the south and one took off the other side of the nest and round the building.  It was a nest switch quick as that!

We viewed the nest mostly that year from Little Hill,  the best angle we could find on the ground. (Later there would be spots on roofs and looks out windows.)  No there wasn't a handy bathroom, or a restaurant, or even a bench to sit on that hot summer as there was when we watched Pale Male but after the grief of no hatch at 927 in 2005 after struggling to get Pale Male and Lola's nest spot back for them,  we still could exalt as  many of us saw our first urban eyasses courtesy of  Junior and Charlotte who had overcome their years of tough circumstances and  succeeded. 

Speaking of tough circumstances--a little background about the Trump Parc nest.  

Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte had nested on the corbel for some years before being successful in 2005.  It is a very inhospitable nest site as wind blows the nesting material away as it does the eggs or in wet weather invariably the cold or the wet seemed to kill the eggs.  In 2006 after the first set of eggs blew away, Junior and Charlotte double clutched, a second clutch of eggs was laid.  That summer there was a drought  and the nest was successful.  Big and Little were hatched and fledged beatifully.

At least one of the current pair that has been seen frequenting southern Central Park has been observed in the inset of a window in the top  row of windows nearest the gold roof .

Photograph by Brett Odom, 2008

Pale Male Junior left and Charlotte right

After another failure at the Trump Park Nest in 2006, Junior and Charlotte moved to a air exhaust window ledge nest site at 888 Seventh. Avenue in 2007. (above) The primary problem with this site for the hawks originally was that it did not overlook a green space. 

Therefore on June 13, 2007,  888 was the jumping off point of a famous NYC hawk event, which occurred when Charlotte and Pale Male Jr.'s  eyass Ziggy fledged down into a plaza near the Ziegfield Theatre during morning  rush hour.   Grounded fledglings are a common problem in urban areas,  and Ziggy, like many others of her ilk  couldn't get airborne again. 

 (In natural areas and also at a very few nesting sites in NYC, the newly fledged hawk can climb up into bushes, branch then into small trees, then big trees,  where she is out of danger and then can be easily fed by her parents until she is better flighted.  At a very few nests in the city, the fledged youngsters can actually make their way back to the nest, which is what rural fledglings do normally.)

But back to Ziggy attempting to climb the wall of a building as there was absolutely no helpful vegetation around,  while a crowd gathered around her in the plaza on June.  First off a homeless man picked her up and was about to make off with her when the crowd put the cabash on that activity and Ziggy was placed back on the concrete to wait for some kind of authorities to arrive and deal with her.  

They waited.

Eventually various members of various "authorities" did arrive and a discussion ensued as to exactly which authority actually had the authority to take custody of Ziggy.  I'm told the discussion took awhile.

Eventually, thank goodness,  renowned rehabber Bobby Horvath appeared on the scene and gave Ziggy a look over.  Then whichever "authority" that after discussion was decided to be the authority, decided that Bobby should take Ziggy back home to the Horvaths rehab center in Long Island where she could be observed for possible non-visible injuries and practice flying in a flight cage.

On the 19th Ziggy was taken to Central Park, a Park Ranger,  than kept an eye on her until Charlotte and Junior appeared in response to her begging cries about 24 hours later and began their parental duties as if there had never been a break.
Photograph by Brett Odom 2008

 Now back to how the previous pair looked--                           
This is Charlotte about to place nesting material . Note she is in bright sunlight which tends to brings out the gold in Red-tailed hawk feathers but she still appears very dark. Note the contrast of her "backpack straps" with the rest of her back.


Photograph by Brett Odom, 2008

Another look at Pale Male Jr., May, 8, 2008, right.  In this muted light his head appears far lighter than his back.  (Compare the coloring with the photo that heads the blog in which the difference in color between the two isn't as highly contrasted.)  Charlotte is barely visible on the nest center.  Yes Junior flew up to the ledge and managed to get the extremely long piece of bark inside.  It wasn't easy.

If you happen to see the Red-tail pair who frequent the territory below that of Pale Male and Zena in Central Park.  Take a good look.  Could it be Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte?

Photo by Brett Odom--Big beautiful Charlotte in flight.

                                           Charlotte, photo by Brett Odom, 2009
          Note how dark her patagial mark is. That's what the mark is called that appears from her neck, extends and then stops midway on the leading edge of her wing.  And her wrist comma, the dark curved mark starting at the leading edge and curving down  just before getting to her primary fingers.  

And check out that heavy belly band!

As this is the time of year when one can often see the hawks circling and get a good long look, compare the above photo with the larger of two hawks busying themselves around the Plaza Hotel.
Photo of Pale Male Jr by Brett Odom, 2009
 Compare Junior above to Pale Male below.  They do resemble each other in a coloration rare in the city, and the reason that many believe that Junior is the son of Pale Male.  A DNA test of the two birds would be the only way we could know scientifically that he positively was related.

Tristan, the late mate of Isolde, now mated with Storm'n Norman, was called informally Pale Male III and also believed to be a son of Pale Male by many watchers.

 When we get to the history of the Divines and the Cathedral Nest of  the Church of St. John the Divine, we'll talk more about the sweet, endearing,  and very relaxed Tristan.
Photo by Donegal Browne

One of Pale Male's favorite copulation spots, Linda #3.   And one of the places where he and Zena were observed copulating yesterday.

Donegal Browne

P.S.  Also keep in mind concerning the current Central Park South pair- either Junior or Charlotte may have passed and taken a new mate so if one is not an original of the pair it doesn't necessarily discount the other as not still being alive with a new mate.  And don't fail to send in your sightings if get some!