Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pale Male's Nest and The Scaffolding- Glenn Phillips Exec. Director of NYC Audubon and John Blakeman on Red-tail Nest Loyalty

Photograph courtesy of
As most of you know,  Pale Male's long time nest building, 927 Fifth Avenue,  has scaffolding over the front of it as masonry work is being done currently. 
Building management did communicate with NYC Audubon about what time of year was best to do the work before it was scheduled.  And at least one longtime hawk watcher was then asked for an opinion as to what the least disruptive window for the hawks would be as well.
 From Glenn Phillips, Executive Director of NYC Audubon--
Hope all is well... just wanted to give you a heads up that 927 Fifth has started some facade work. They have been working with us to reduce impacts, and waited until this year's eyasses were fledged before starting, and they intend to finish work on the front of the building before the end of the year to avoid conflicts when PM and consort return to the nest... They have been very proactive and supportive, and should be congratulated for working to ensure the nest's safety. 

True, it would be dreadful if the facade suddenly fell off the building crashing our favorite pair of hawks and a nest full of eggs or eyasses onto the sidewalk.
That said, I don't believe that a catastrophe was about to happen but while biding our time and worrying about how the hawks feel about all this,  it might be slightly consoling to think that if there were a safety issue it would be discovered and fixed during this work. 
(Shhhh...Also keep in mind we've made life miserable for 927 before and we can do it again if necessary.  Which I'm pretty sure it won't be. They do NOT want all those "crazy hawkwatchers"  making a racket in front of  their house again now do they?  So take a deep breathe, let it out, relax those shoulders...and I'll let you know when it's time to start making the Honk for Hawks signs again.  I still have mine so I'm ready.)
 Numerous emails from readers and phone calls have come in  from hawkwatchers concerned not only about the duration of the work that's being done, and the scaffolding,  but also about all that netting on the building in which talons might be tangled. 

I agree the netting totally and utterly sucks.  
Here's the deal,  NYC has some extremely strict iron clad rules and codes concerning protection for pedestrians while masonry work is being done over their heads.  They have to make the area debris-tight while they work.  Hence the mandatory netting.
In fact compared to all the scaffolding, netting and who knows what all,  that was on my apartment building when the brick was being tuck pointed some years ago, this is less, thank goodness. 
 It will come down faster.

Which brings us to the very important factor--WHEN will it come down?

927 management has communicated to NYC Audubon that the scaffolding will come down on the front of the building before the first of the year.

Yes, we'd all be very much happier if it were down NOW as we worry that Pale Male is being upset, but here is a word from Red-tailed Hawk mavin, John Blakeman on the matter  Red-tails and their nests--
I just learned of the 927 façade work. If the scaffolding is down by even 1 Feb, all should be well. First of January would be better. 
I'm not sure everyone understands the typically vagrant nature of RT nests. Pairs have  extreme fidelity to territories; those don't much vary from year to year (in location, at least; size, yes). But RTs commonly in rural areas simply abandon a perfect, oft-used nest and go off and build another a quarter-mile distant. For no good reason, other than apparently they really enjoy building nests in Jan and Feb. 
PM could start a nest at the Beresford any year, scaffolding notwithstanding.

John Blakeman

It's true.  The Beresford has always been Pale Male's second option to show his mate for her consideration for many a season. 
I think that particular choosing  behavior is wired in, and goes beyond just giving the formel a choice, (She is the boss during nesting season after all.), it is that the tiercel being the one who is constantly thinking of contingency plans as he's the guy on the wing while the formel is eating her way into egg-nancy, or on the nest  He's got to have a back up in his "pocket" just in case something happens to the first choice nest site.   
Pale has a back up.  Not the first choice for any season so far, but he is prepared.  Comforting that.
Something occurred to me earlier today, Pale Male, being an older hawk with literally decades of urban experience,  has seen scaffolding go up a thousand times and seen it come down just as often, all over the city.  
In fact,  he knows it always does come down eventually.
Red-tail Hawks are masters of patterns.  It is their hunting ace; it's how they make their living.  They watch the patterns and they remember them.
Of course I'd strongly prefer that Pale Male not be bothered in any way, but perhaps because of experience, and the fact he was first to choose this environment he knows the scoop and may not be as bothered as we might surmise.  Or even if he is bothered, he will do what it takes, as he always does,  yet again this season.
Besides  Pale Male is no dummy, he knows he's got all of us for back up.   
As we had he and Lola for back up while the protests went on back in 2004.  Many early evenings while we all protested, while we danced, sang, banged pans, whistled, held signs and egged on the honking cars of Fifth Avenue across from 927,  Pale Male and Lola sat in the trees behind us just beyond the wall biding their time at the edge of Central Park...backing us up.

And we'll bide our time as they did for a while longer yet too, as they go about their pre-season business.  Yes, we'll bide our time, we'll calmly pass by, we'll check out the netting, and we'll let the hawks see.... Not to worry, we're still around and we're still on the job.  You've got back up.
Happy Hawking,
Donegal Browne

My apologies to all for the lack of postings of late.  
Back in June, I was helping  a friend of mine from college days, Mark Scarborough, prize winning newspaperman, do the technical work on the photographs he was using for the book he was writing, EDGERTON, when without warning and while taking a break outside the paper talking to colleagues, he suddenly dropped to the ground.  And my oldest friend was just....gone.

I took up the task of  finishing off the loose ends for Mark's book and being in deep grief the loose ends have been far harder to tie up than I'd bargained for.
Once again my apologies.


sally said...

Thank you for the reassuring post. And so sorry about your dear friend. I am glad you have been able to complete his project :)

Anonymous said...

Dearest one!!!

Oh thank God for you!!

I have written notes to Audubon (NYC) pleading and threatening (no violence, just honking and annoying the residents!)

I am in California.......and I wasn't there with a sign....but I can tell you ......I think those people know who I am!!

I bombarded them with email (that has perhaps come back to haunt and punish me!!) Every single person...Mayor, on down. Even up! The Senators and Congresspeople answered me themselves!

(we have to call that the "good old days"!!!)

I feel so much better that you have posted this!



ps I sicc'd the website on them! Millions of subscribers......all over the world! (I do exaggerate every now and then....just not NOW!!)

The fab partner(Jeff) and photographer dressed up in bird suit and joined those demonstrators...all over the world HOLY HELL was raised! (I was an iota..Pale Male has international and fabulously devoted and FAMOUS fans!!)

Thank you so much for this news! It has been hard to find!! Whew! I trust John Blakeman; and he makes sense. I hope they hurry up!!
(I actually sent "thought waves" to Pale Male that I thought the Beresford was lovely!) I am a decorator!!

Aren't they nicer people??? OMIGOD!!! I hope so!!

I am so sorry about your friend. What a terrible shock. I hope you feel better. Loss is dreadful; and especially sudden; right in front of you!

My heart aches for you! Truly.

We have similar sensibilities! I love the way you wrote this!


ps may I publish this on my blog? (I guess I mean republish....of course credit to you!)

my website is :

sally said...

The scaffolding didn't go up until mid-late August :( Hopefully it will be down VERY soon!

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? Aren't you upset about the scaffolding? Get some sense!

sally said...

It appears from Lincoln's photos of the 19th that the scaffolding is now just below the nest :)

sally said...

It appears from Lincoln's photos of the 19th that the scaffolding is now just below the nest :)

Donegal Browne said...

Dear Unhappy Anon,

Of course I'm not happy about the scaffolding. I am deeply concerned about anything that might upset things for Pale Male.

I am absolutely not some chirpy chick who thinks everything is wonderful in the world and it will all turn out fine no matter what.

What I am trying to do is look at the situation compared to what has happened in the past. That 927 consulted people who do care deeply about Pale Male and Company before deciding when to do their facade work is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Is the situation perfect? Of course not.

Will things be okay if the scaffolding comes down before the first of the year. Barring misadventure, it should be. The chances are certainly better than if the scaffolding had started to go up before last years young fledged or in the case of the nest uptown that was just summarily pitched off its ledge right before eggs were due to be laid by workman.

This is better

Is is better than the occasion in which scaffolding fully surrounded the nest at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine of Isolde and Tristan? Not only was there scaffolding but there was a catwalk directly above the nest on which workmen walked during the entire time they were nesting that year.

We thought Isolde would worry herself to death. Plus that her many trips off the nest would cause the nest to fail. It did not. She knows her stuff.

This is better than any of those situations.

One step at a time does really suck but it is all we have. And it is a whole lot better than when not only Pale Male and lola's nest was torn down but the pigeon spikes that anchored it were removed as well.

It was heart breaking to watch the pair fruitlessly bringing twig after twig to their nest site and then watching them watch the twigs fall off the cornice time after time.

This is better. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but better than it has been.

Anonymous said...

You are a voice of reason.......and what good news that part of it.....(where the nest is) is Down!!

November 20th!

anonymous posts can be land-mines.....and so destructive and counter-productive! OH WELL!

I am thrilled the scaffolding is down where the nest is! I will go peek!

Seriously...I have been following this hawk since he was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (know those little pin-prick pictures)?? THAT!

and then I learned the "internet" and our treasure "Lincoln Karim"!

Yowzer! what a story!

Anonymous said...

Bravo! The bottom line is that the nest is open! and they are hanging out on it!

There are hearts all over the world set on this couple hatching some erases

Go Pale Male!!!
and thank you to Lincoln for photographing all these years!


Anonymous said...

Oh the typos! eyasses!! Autocorrect does not know about hawk babies! YAY!! The nest is free!

This is my favorite bird of my life!