Photograph courtesy of palemale.com
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.
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.
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.