So sad to hear WSP Resident Mama Hawk Violet has died

Updated!

Violet at the Horvath's

It happened yesterday afternoon — The Horvath’s announcement via their Facebook page:

We are extremely heart sick to have to announce to everyone that Violet has passed away . She came through the surgery very well. She woke up and was sitting up fluffing her feathers. All of a sudden she had a heart attack. The Vet did CPR on her for 20 minutes to no avail. xrays showed that at some point after her right foot had deteriorated, her left femur was broken. We don’t know how she ever survived for as long as she did. We are somewhat relieved that at least Violet wasn’t suffering alone somewhere. She was warm, peaceful and had a full belly and pain medication.We just couldn’t get her in time.

I felt like in the last week many of the hawk bloggers commenters – and I so appreciate all their amazing coverage! – were so anxious that Bobby have a new mate that Violet was quickly becoming forgotten. I know it may not be always popular to say that it would have been better than she never had a leg band and that she was attended to sooner but both are true.  At the same time, I know when you do any kind of animal or wildlife rescue, it’s so easy to doubt yourself and look back over every decision wondering if it was the right one.

I just hope in the future the powers that be – whether it’s NYU or a governmental agency – can work with others who may have supplemental and additional knowledge that can help the situation. Sometimes it’s so easy, in any field, for people to believe they are such “experts” that they end up ignoring those who are ‘in the trenches.’ We all need to work together.

The New York Daily News reports: [Cathy Horvath] “said they are considering burying Violet in Washington Square Park, where she and her mate often sat in trees, hunting for rats.”

And the Horvaths wrote on Facebook today:

We are going to have a plaque made in honor and memory of Violet. We would like to bring her back to her park and place her at the tree where we were able to finally get her. We will let everyone know once we get all the details settled. We want to thank everyone with all our hearts for the amazing support and kind words. It has been very helpful to us. We are so heartbroken from all of this and it is comforting to know you all cared so much for Violet and for us. thank you again, Cathy and Bobby

I hope they do bury her at WSP.

I liked Violet’s spirit. I liked how the hawk bloggers and watchers would be able to spot Bobby often but Violet’s whereabouts were sometimes a mystery. Yet she’d always return. Bobby and Violet discovered that ledge (as I’ve said before, what are the chances…? outside NYU President John Sexton’s office) and made their nest together there. They defied the odds when everyone said the window for a baby hawk had passed. She looked after Pip beautifully; they both did. And the two hawks added a new vibrancy to the park. In the last few weeks, Bobby had been providing Violet with food to compensate for her injured and worsening leg. I realize a new gal will move in (and may have already) but I really appreciated Bobby and Violet as a pair and, of course, individually. Peace to Violet.

All WSP Blog coverage on Violet, Bobby and Pip here.

(Took a break from my break to post this. New posts resume Tuesday, January 3rd.)

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New Posts return Tuesday, January 3rd — Happy New Year!

Villager on CB2’s “Washington Square Speak Out” Hearing On Performance Crackdown

I was going to write up my own impressions of the Community Board 2 Public hearing – “Washington Square Speak Out” – held on December 19th on the performance crackdown at WSP. However, Albert Amateau at The Villager did such a great job reporting on the meeting that I’ve excerpted his piece, A symphony of no’s on Parks’ musician rules at speak-out”, here:

There was only one speaker on Monday in favor of the Parks Department’s citing musicians and other performers in Washington Square Park for violating park rules. The lone supporter was Bill Castro, Manhattan borough Parks Department commissioner, who told a packed audience that the recently enforced rules still allow buskers plenty of room to perform in Washington Square — as long as they’re 50 feet from any monument and 5 feet from a bench.

“The rules are not intended to ban performers from this or any other park, regardless of whether they solicit or accept contributions,” Castro said.

“The department seeks to regulate and accommodate a variety of activities and uses,” Castro added, but he promised that the department would review and reconsider the enforcement policy that began in the park around May. The rules only apply to buskers, meaning performers who accept cash contributions.

Given that Washington Square, the spawning ground in decades past of music luminaries including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Joan Baez, has benches along its paths and large monuments, including the iconic arch, the central fountain, the Garibaldi statue and the monument to Alexander Lyman Holley, the claim of “plenty of room” rang hollow.

All others at the Dec. 19 speak-out, sponsored by Community Board 2 and its Parks Committee, called for an end to what they called an anti-life and hypocritical enforcement effort.

Indeed, one speaker, Mitchel Cohen, mocked the rules, saying he was in favor of barring musicians because they interrupted the sound of jackhammers and sirens and they prevented people from getting close to the monuments.

“Everybody knows that people come to Washington Square Park from all over the world to see the Holley Monument,” Cohen quipped.

Gregory Nissen, a theater composer and pianist, introduced himself as Robert Zimmerman who just blew in from Minneapolis with his banjo, but decided to leave because the cops wouldn’t let him play in Washington Square.

Katie Kat, a soprano and voice instructor at New York University who performs under the arch (“great acoustics”) with her partner, Roxanne Walitzki, sang part of an aria from Puccini’s “La Bohème” at the end of her remarks and won admiring applause.

C.B. 2 members Keen Berger and Doris Diether, both speaking as individuals, urged an end to the enforcement.

Berger, a resident near Washington Square for 47 years, said she has visited the park at least 2,000 times. She said she cherished the music and didn’t recall negative reactions against performers.

Diether reminded the forum that performance in Washington Square dates back more than 50 years.

“This is ridiculous,” Diether said about the enforcement, which she recalled started two or three months ago. “First, they said that musicians were blocking the pathways. Then, they said there was no solicitation in the park. The rules are idiotic and the Parks commissioner [Adrian Benepe] should be told they’re idiotic and they should be thrown out,” Diether said.

“The people who perform are the people who keep the park safe,” said Susan Goren, a regular parkgoer known as “The Squirrel Whisperer.” The rules, she said, are eliminating what people find joyful in the park.

A longtime jazz performer known as Black Bobby said, “First they came for the black folks. Now, from the look of the audience here tonight [largely white], it seems that there is equality.”

and…

Robert Lederman, president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics), reminded the meeting that he has a pending federal lawsuit challenging the city’s rules limiting where artists can vend art and other expressive matter in Union Square, on the High Line and in Central Park and Battery Park. The rules were only imposed on musicians, according to Lederman, after he raised the issue to Parks that musicians were excluded from the Union Square limits, while vendors were forced to abide by them.

Lederman, who cited an editorial, “Don’t ban the buskers” in last week’s issue of The Villager, said the rules practically ban artists and musicians from any New York City park.

The activist said the hypocrisy of the rules is apparent from the city-sponsored holiday markets that pre-empt space in Union Square and other parks.

Lorie Moody, a resident of 2 Fifth Ave., agreed, citing the Greenmarket in Union Square and “the less-than-glorious, white-tented event in Washington Square,” referring to the annual Taste of The Village event under the Washington Square arch.

Colin Huggins, “The Crazy Piano Guy,” who wheels his piano to play in Washington Square and other parks, said he has received summonses that would cost more than $2,000 in fines if they are not eventually dismissed. He said his playing brings people together.

Joe Mangrum, who does sand painting in Union Sq. and Washington Square, has also received numerous summonses.

“New York City is unique because there is this creative freedom,” Mangrum said. The city, he said, appears to be “militarizing’” the park.

“Freedom is the most important thing we have. If you don’t have that you don’t have a country,” Mangrum said.

Ryo Sasaki, a jazz trumpeter, said he came to New York four years ago from Japan because of the music culture. He has been playing in Washington Square Park for three years, “and suddenly this season we cannot do it anymore,” he said. “I learned to play music in school but I never learned how to entertain and communicate with people. Those skills I learned in Washington Square Park,” Sasaki said.

“The city crated a problem that never existed,” said Natalie Albert, a neighborhood resident for 40 years.

Red-Tailed Mama Hawk Violet Rescued Christmas Eve at Washington Square – Recap of the Story Thus Far

Updated!

Violet and Bobby on nearby Fifth Ave terrace early afternoon 12/24

Violet on WSP tree pre-capture (yes, that's a rat)

Bobby on Park light (I love this shot)

The saga of Red-tailed hawk Mama Violet and the leg band that was causing her troubles began last spring prior to the birth of Pip. The leg band had been placed by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) some time ago. Recent reports were sounding pessimistic as to how Violet would ultimately fare. So surprised I was to learn that Christmas Eve (right before the caroling began at 5 p.m. by the Arch), Violet was rescued by Long Island wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath with the help of Pondove (the online chat room moderator) who alerted them to how serious Violet’s condition was getting and helped scope out the park and Heather who writes the Roger_Paw Blog who and posted an excellent account. Photos above were taken by her (many more at her site) on 12/24 before the rescue.

They first tried last Tuesday with no luck and Bobby Horvath said “I’ll be back” and they returned Saturday. They were about to leave when Violet came near enough to capture. This occurred near the Holley statue (Western end of the park).

I wrote back in May about the concerns with NYU’s decision (Violet & Bobby chose the window outside NYU President John Sexton’s office as the site of their nest) to call in the DEC after initially receiving advice from the Horvaths. The DEC then overruled that advice which was to capture Violet from the ledge outside John Sexton’s office and remove the band immediately before it could cause trouble (which it then did). I remember all too well the story of Hal, the Central Park Coyote (who unfortunately died at the hands of the DEC, link below).

Previously at WSP Blog: NYS DEC, Mama Hawk Violet’s Rescue, and Remembering Hal the Central Park Coyote May 12th, 2011

The Horvath’s recount the DEC intervention in today’s Daily News story. An NYU spokesperson quoted takes umbrage with this being brought up.

The couple, which runs the nonprofit rescue group Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, believes Violet’s injuries would not be as severe if she had been captured and treated months ago.

The Horvaths question the wisdom of officials from New York University and the state Department of Environmental Conservation who decided not to intervene last spring. At the time, Violet was caring for her hatchling, Pip, in a nest perched on the window ledge of an NYU building.

A real-time Web feed broadcast images of the hawk family around the world, turning Violet into a global sensation.

But in recent months, her condition has worsened, Cathy Horvath said.“She was getting skinny,” she said. “This whole situation may have been prevented if we could have intervened earlier.”

“Given how concerned everyone was about the hawk’s well-being, it would be a pity to hear people start indulging in recriminations now,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman.

Bobby Horvath, Cathy Horvath & Violet

Violet Captured

You always hope that institutions and governmental agencies will learn from these experiences but somehow their comments and attitudes don’t leave one with much hope that this will be the case.

The New York Times story, Violet the Injured Red-tailed Hawk Captured for Treatment in N.Y.C. Park:

Violet, the red-tailed hawk who has been suffering from a crippling leg injury, was captured for treatment on Saturday in Washington Square Park.

According to the blogger Roger_Paw, who posted a detailed account of it, the Long Island-based raptor rehabilitators Robert and Cathy Horvath of the nonprofit Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, netted her on the ground after she had flown down from a tree branch to retrieve her prey.

The Horvaths will take Violet, the mother of Pip, to a veterinarian to determine the best course of action for her necrotic right leg, which for more than a year has been swollen around metal wildlife band and which may require amputation. Her good leg — the left one — appears to have been infected with what is known as bumblefoot, a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics.

The capture brings one aspect of the hawk drama full circle: the Horvaths had offered to rescue Violet in May, when her injured leg seemed to be worsening, and they went to observe her from the president’s office at New York University, which looks out onto her nest.

N.Y.U. opted to turn the matter over to the state, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation brought in its own medical rescue team, which concluded that she was coping with her injury well enough that the risks entailed in trying to capture Violet and week-old Pip outweighed the benefits.

The Times coverage has been great with the HawkCam and it’s clear their reporters and readers really bonded with this story. However, they definitely glossed over the details about what happened (in relation to decision not to intervene by DEC/NYU against Horvaths’ advice) in pretty much all accounts of what happened until this article.

There have been a number of inaccurate statements put forth by “experts” (I’m not referring to the Horvaths) along the way. For example, stating that the window for the egg to hatch had passed (egg then hatched), Bobby and Violet will only leave food for Pip for a few weeks and then he’s on his own and may not make it (it ended up being much longer than that), the band has not caused Violet’s leg trouble, etc. etc.

Nonetheless, in light of where we are now, this was the best outcome. I definitely had tears in my eyes reading and seeing the photos from Roger_Paw’s account of what transpired and I’m sure many people did who felt so close to this story. I missed the Christmas Eve caroling and am wondering if I would have encountered the rescue which Heather from Roger_Paw said happened around 4:47 p.m. (Caroling began at 5!)

Wishing the best for Violet and thank you to all who assisted in her rescue!

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p.s. There is a new female who has swooped in at the park (amazing how that works – they sense the vacuum?) and Urban_Hawks Blog has a great recounting and excellent photos here with “New Girl in Town.

Previous coverage at WSP Blog:

Update on Mama Hawk Violet November 29, 2911

Pip, Young Red-tailed hawk, getting ready to leave the nest above Washington Square June 21, 2011

NYS DEC, Mama Hawk Violet’s Rescue, and Remembering Hal the Central Park Coyote May 12th, 2011

Baby Hawk Spotted! On Heels of “Riverside Dad” Hawk Death, Can We Rid Washington Square of Hazardous Rodenticide? May 6, 2011

— note: Parks Dept did rid WSP of rodenticide which has been great!

Violet and Bobby HawkCam Watch April 8, 2011

All Violet, Bobby & Pip coverage here.

Violet and Bobby on the Nest April 2011

Violet and Pip (June 2011)

Photos 1-3: Roger_Paw Blog
Photo 4: Pondove
Photo 6: Christopher James/NYU
Photo 7: D. Bruce Yolton/Urban Hawks Blog

Central Park’s Harlem Meer Has a Floating Christmas Tree!

Feeling like NYC has gotten a bit boring and the City government abhors anything too out of the ordinary? Well, check out the Central Park Harlem Meer Floating Christmas Tree via New York Lives:

Great history of that area of the park. When I read the description of the clip sent by New York Lives, I thought a random person must have placed the floating tree there in the water – for fun. However, this was indeed implemented by the management. Whether you celebrate the holidays in any way – or not, there’s something heartening about this.

New York Lives (“a web video site featuring portraits of New Yorkers from different walks of life”) web site.

** Don’t forget caroling at the Arch today at 5 p.m.! **

Happy Holidays! A bit of Cheer via the “Merry Mounds” Video

Happy Holidays! 

Since we can never get enough of the Mounds, this is a delightful clip of kids at Washington Square Park sledding and frolicking in the snow. The video features Karen Carpenter’s version of the song “Sleigh Ride” and illustrates how the children gravitate towards the Mounds as places of spontaneous play. Perfect if you are in need of a bit of holiday spirit. (You can also see the old park!)

Video by Matt Davis (Documentary “SQUARE: Straightening out Washington Square Park“).

The redesign of the Mounds (located in the Southwest Quadrant of the Park) was moved out of Washington Square Park Redesign Phase II earlier this year; they are now part of Phase III – still to come (no word on when that construction will begin).

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** Recycled Entry** Originally Published on December, 24, 2008 ** This is a revised version.

Report back from Monday Night’s Community Board 2 Meeting Coming…

Community Board 2’s “Washington Square Speak Out” meeting Monday night at the Kimmel Center across from the Park was well attended and bustling with good energy. This meeting addressed the performance crackdown going down lately at the Park. Blog post covering this coming … soon!

“Do The Light Thing/Occupy Chanukah” Event Lit Up Fountain Plaza Tuesday

Light Sculpture 2010 Event

The New Schul held “Do the Light Thing in Washington Square Park,” an annual event to celebrate Chanukah, on Tuesday 12/20. This year it also had the theme “Occupy Chanukah.” Chanukah is the “festival of lights” so the “progressive synagogue,” located on West 10th Street, set out to “create a public Light Sculpture in the heart of Greenwich Village” in order to “send a message of hope and peace to our community and the world.”

The event’s Yelp page stated people would:

Dance to the music of Litvakus, sing some Chanukah songs, keep warm with a cup of steaming hot chocolate and taste tradition with a delicious potato latke.

Nice! As far as “occupying,” “occupy” has traditionally (well, at least, since September 17th) meant that you are taking something over in the attempt to change it in some way. I suppose they were “Occupying Chanukah” that night at WSP to bring attention to the message of meaning and community and in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The creation of the Light Sculpture happens annually so it’ll light up the Fountain Plaza again next year.

The History of the Washington Square Christmas Tree — Tree from First Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1924 Was Planted in the Park In Spirit of “Wise Use”

“Researching Greenwich Village History”, an NYU site, recently uncovered the history of the first Washington Square Christmas tree. It turns out that the tree propped up in the front of the Arch at the first tree lighting ceremony in 1924 was later planted in the park. Words to the carols – to prompt the sing along – were projected onto the Arch!

The writer was not able to confirm that that tree is still at WSP or where it was planted which would be quite interesting to know. Apparently, “conservation” was a big consideration at that time, more so than 87 years later it appears. An article in the New York Times in 1925 expressed that, “Each year…a cry is raised that to have Christmas trees is to endanger our waning forest resources.” Perhaps they might consider planting the trees in the park now vs. the trees ending up in the chipper. The original tree, if it still existed in recent years, may have been chopped down in the Parks Department’s axing of so many trees via its redesign of Washington Square.

Here’s the info:

The original tree was officially presented on December 24, 1924, by Parks Commissioner Gallatin. The “appropriate ceremonies” included the lighting of the tree, which was to be equipped with “1,500 amber, green and red incandescent lights.” (New York Times, “City’s Celebration of Yuletide Begins” December 24, 1924) as well as caroling, and as the article went to press, the plan was to project the words of Christmas carols directly onto the Washington Square Arch, “…so that all present may read and sing.” The living tree, temporarily set up by the arch, was then to be planted permanently elsewhere in the park the following Monday.

It seems that today’s Washington Square Christmas Tree is a cut one, but in the spirit of “wise use,” we can still hope that the original living tree was able to be planted and enjoyed for many years after its journey to New York City! And of course, every time we walk through Washington Square Park and see an evergreen, we can imagine that it’s an 87 year veteran of park life.

Don’t forget caroling by the tree continues in front of the Arch Saturday, December 24th 5 p.m.!

The projection of the words to the carols on the Arch seems to have been abandoned but perhaps that could be brought back too. It would be another way to save trees as songbooks are now provided and handed out by the Washington Square Association instead.

The Rockefeller Center tree lighting is in its 79th year — a not well known fact is that the Washington Square tradition, at year 87, surpasses it in age.

Photo of this year’s tree(2011): Fernandohn via Instagram.

Kristin Jones’ “Behold,” Slated for Arbor Day 2013, Has Eye on “Hangmen’s Elm” at Washington Square

Kristin Jones beside the "Hangmen's Elm"

Updated – This past Friday’s New York Times featured Kristin Jones’ “Behold,” “a 24 hour multimedia extravaganza” in appreciation of the city’s trees, slated for Arbor Day 2013. One tree in each borough will be designated as a point of focus.

The tree she has her eye on for Manhattan is at Washington Square – the famous “Hangman’s Elm” (there seems to be dispute over whether it was actually used for hangings) in the NorthWest corner of the park. I did not realize that tree is 330 years old! Incredible.

Jones and her partner were responsible for “Metronome” – the unique clock (or “artwork/digital timepiece, intended as a modernist meditation on the dissolution of time”) that looms above Union Square on 14th Street.

Of the “Hangmen’s Elm,” she says: “All these years this beautiful tree was right under my nose. It makes me angry that I never appreciated it until now.”

From the Times’ article:

… she whipped off her blue-rimmed glasses and, conducting the conversation with her ungloved hands, described her plans for that tree and four others in New York City: a 24-hour multimedia extravaganza of lighting, time-lapse filming, poetry and music, to be called “Behold.”

Ms. Jones wants New Yorkers not only to appreciate the ancient giants in their midst but also to pitch in and help conserve them. In that respect, “Behold” is an artistic intervention.

“Imagine how beautiful she would be all lit up,” she mused, stepping back from the English elm, one of just a few of its vintage left in the city. Ms. Jones assigned it a gender based on, well, women’s intuition. Her intended subject dwarfs her, but then, all of her artistic ambitions are supersize.

The artist suggests that the Parks Commissioner is not a fan of the idea. There’s time to change that by the “target date” of Arbor Day – April 26 – 2013. (Possibly, a New York Times article may help win his favor?)

Of the “Hangmen’s Elm,” Jones said: “This tree kind of chose me.” In addition, “she considers the trees natural wonders given short shrift by the city they nurture.”

On that, she will find many agree.

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Accompanying Photo essay.
Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
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