Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A HAWK SEASON OF DESPAIR- Four Gone in a Month

 Intrepid broods eggs.  Her three eyasses that season were accidentally poisoned on the nest by being fed a poisoned rat.

 Photo Donegal Browne
2011-Young Ginger Lima, recently deceased,  tends her eyasses fathered by Pale Male- photo courtesy of palemale.com

From Myisha Priest,  hawk watcher,  NYU professor,  and the host of a seminar that 

celebrated the wildlife of New York City --

   I just read the news of Intrepid. Heartbroken. She was singular in her ability to persevere. Though I guess they all are, which is one of the reasons we love them. Remember when her beak was broken and she made it through the winter anyway?
  What a sad hawk season. Violet, Lima, the Southside hawk and now Intrepid. Yet they say that grief is the price we pay for love...
 I send wishes for peaceful rest for those who are gone, wishes for better times for those who are here, and kind thoughts to the hawks and the tender (and bruised) hearts of those who love them.

 Myisha your note is beautiful.  Thank you.  I am afraid that my heart, among many others, has been bruised very badly this time around.

There have been times of despair before for those who love and attempt to succor New York City's urban hawks but the last year, which includes the long drawn out travail of Violet due to  human failure, has been, I think, the darkest.

Though there is no proof and may never be, as the testing of the very common Red-tail Hawk for poison is low on the list of priorities for the financially strapped New York State Wildlife Pathology budget, the known evidence points to secondary poisoning as the cause of death in this  latest wave of unblemished beautifully feathered corpses.

 Poison is also arguably a possible vector in the disappearance of Pale Male's mate of many years, Lola.

Today I am at a loss as to what more we can do soon enough to help the now living survive.  For assuredly what we have done has not been enough to save those who are gone and my feeling is that only luck has allowed those who still live to continue their lives.

Education is slow.  Poison is fast.

If mature, city-savvy hawks such as Intrepid, and before her, Builder,  Athena, Hawkeye, Ginger Lima, and Lola to name a very few, have not found any clues to warn them away from the rats that killed them, there likely aren't any clues and the death toll will only continue. 

Can we find a strategy that works with the rapidity that poison does?   

Hawkeye of Fordham, mate of Rose and the father of many, many well fledged young died of poison.  Photo Donegal Browne

Photo Donegal Browne

Athena of the Triborough Bridge nest,  a mother for many seasons, died of  rodenticide secondary poisoning leaving a clutch of eggs.  Her mate Atlas attempted to hatch the eggs on his own, but with no one to hunt for him or spell him on the nest so he could leave to hunt and eat,  the eggs were sometimes unattended.  They never hatched.


Yet Another Red-Tailed Hawk Found Dead

It hasn’t been a good late winter for New York’s red-tailed hawk population. The first big news came when the first lady of New York’s hawks — Pale Male’s latest love interest — was found dead. Shortly thereafter, the body of another unidentified red-tailed hawk was found in Central Park. There was also a young hawk found dead in the park, which was mostly ignored outside of hawk watching circles.  But now, yet another  bird, this one a Riverside Park resident, has bitten the dust, bringing the recent death toll up to four.


 Intrepid, Riverside Mom hunts.  Before she died, she had outlived a mate and three eyasses who had all died of poison.                                                      Photo Donegal Browne


Thanks to Rachel Shriff for posting flyers about secondary poisoning and the dangers of second generation poisons in her Queens neighborhood.

In memory also of all the hawks unnamed, who have died of secondary poisoning and human negligence. 

Donegal Browne


sally said...

Sad but very nice blog entry. People are pigs I guess, I hate to say that but so many seem so thoughtless, not able to see the bigger picture of the world around them and the effects we all have, good or bad, on the environment. Thank you for the pictures of those lost.

the nutty admin said...

Hello - I tried the link to contact you but it doesn't work for me on the little netbook I'm using at the moment. We found another dead hawk yesterday in Peter Cooper Village. It is banded and I was wondering who to contact, who might want to come over to identify it.

Donegal Browne said...

HI Nutty,

Was glad to see on your blog that you found an officer from the DEC to retrieve the hawk's body.

Thank you so much for your perseverance.

Did you happen to jot down the number on the band? The reason I ask is that some of the rehabbers in town, the Horvaths for one, band birds before releasing them after treatment. We might learn something of the hawk's history that way.

In the photos, thank you for thinking of it, I don't see any injury. Did you see anything that might be a physical clue at all? As the bird was so close to the building one wonders if she died perched on the building and fell, or perhaps hit a window, or was blown into the building by wind.

Next, do you know if there are rat bait boxes in the area.

It would be great if you could contact me directly...use the name of the blog at yahoo for an address.

Thank you again.