Washington Square’s Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks Take First Flight Monday!

Fledge to nearby ledge!

There are two juvenile hawks this year as opposed to last year when there was just one – sweet Pip. And on Monday, Memorial Day evening, they both took their first flight from the 12th floor ledge of the Bobst Library.

Urban Hawks Blog recounted some of the unusual aspects of this fledge (more photos too):

Fledge Day at Washington Square turned out to be unlike any I have every watched. Both eyasses fledged within ten minutes of each other (8:05 and 8:15) and ended up on the same ledge of a nearby NYU building. Red-tailed Hawks don’t normally fledge together, nor do they usually fledge to the same place. The fledge happened at dusk, another rarity.

I’ve noticed in the past that many in the hawk world think there is a certain order to all this and the Washington Square hawks keep defying it — which is fitting!

Photo by Washington Square avid hawk watcher and New York Times‘ Web Cam chat room moderator (I think I have that right!) Pondove via the New York Times.

** The history of the Washington Square hawks with the appearance of Violet and Bobby at WSP Blog. **

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

Mama Hawk Violet Spotted At Washington Square — Visits the Nest With Bobby; Bobby and Pip splitting time between WSP and Union Square

I haven’t written about the Washington Square Park Red-tailed hawks of late. Last Thursday (8/11), hours before the New York Times shut down the HawkCam, and in time to be captured on video, Violet and Bobby returned to the nest together. Mama Hawk Violet had been ‘missing’ – not spotted in close to a month – so there was relief that she was still around and doing okay.

I wonder how they communicated to each other to meet up back there.

Pip - West 3rd Street Antenna Late July

A couple of weeks ago in the early evening at Washington Square, I encountered Bruce from the Urban Hawks Blog and Heather from Roger_Paw blog, who were there with a group seeking Bobby and youngster Pip along Washington Square North. They informed me that the two hawks had begun splitting their time between Washington Square and Union Square. I had mixed feelings about that (feeling a bit, uh, territorial?) but this would appear to give the pigeons and squirrels at Washington Square (and mice and rats, should they be there too) some breathing room.

As for Pip’s gender, I’ve always thought of Pip as a boy but then one of the hawk blogs stated very definitively that Pip is a girl. I started referring to Pip as ‘she’ thinking this was confirmed. According to Andy Newman at the Times (in the comments at Thursday’s post), it is the “consensus” that Pip is a girl but it is not verified. A Times‘ commenter wrote that boy hawks are usually smaller than girl hawks and she thought, based on the young hawk’s size, that Pip is a boy. This sounds plausible. Thus far, I’ve noticed a lot of things expressed about the hawks as fact end up being entirely wrong or else these downtown hawks are going against the ‘norm.’ (Which would also make sense, right?)

Earlier this summer, Pip had been taking advantage of the area that’s fenced off and under construction (Southwestern end of the park). Since that section (Phase II-B) is not scheduled to be completed any day soon (more on that later), somebody should be enjoying it! Of course, then there’s still Phase III construction to come — for which bids to complete the work are allegedly due August 17th.

Pip will have access to the soon to be recreated Mounds (moved from Phase II to Phase III) before anyone else! This final phase of Washington Square Park construction probably won’t start until next year, I’d imagine, but we’ll see.

Photo: Redtail 10025

Previously on WSP Blog: Violet, Bobby and Pip

A reader’s query: With 3 Hawks in the Hood, Can We give the Washington Square Park Squirrels a Little Assistance?


hawk, squirrel & tree-Wash Sq Pk

Commenter Drewo wrote in the other day with concern about the beloved Washington Square Park squirrels and their fate with the arrival of red-tailed hawks Violet, Bobby, and now Pip.

From Drewo:

I found your WSP blog on the internet. As a long-time visitor to the park, I am concerned the squirrel population will be annihilated by the hawks that now reside around the park. Much attention has been paid by the media (particularly the NY Times) to the nesting hawks – I guess the fate of the squirrels does not require as much attention.

I was in the park on Wednesday (7/6) and found a hawk perched directly atop a squirrel house – with one terrorized squirrel crouching inside the house. The hawk was just waiting for it’s food. No hunting required – easy pickings in a squirrel house.

I took pictures and posted this note to the latest NY Times City Room article about the NYU hawks:

I may have partially answered my own question (#6). I entered WSP again today shortly after 2pm and immediately came upon one of the hawks, just west of the arch. The hawk was sitting directly on top of one of the squirrel houses. Just inside the squirrel house was one terrified occupant. The hawk sat there for quite some time, at least 20 minutes, before finally flying off.

It seems like the squirrels are easy pickings for the hawks. Perhaps the Parks Department might consider a modification of the squirrel houses (to make the tops less like attractive as a perch) and/or a relocation of some of the houses.

The hawks are a sight to behold – but it would be a shame to lose the playful squirrels that have been a fixture of the park for, well, ever.

I responded:

I did see your comment (at the Times) and I thought it was really on target. It’s a really good idea. Love the squirrels at Washington Square and I know they have many fans. I’ll definitely run a post with your comment in it on Monday Tuesday.

Maybe we could start a campaign? Ask the Parks Department? Perhaps the NY Times would run something. The hawks have to eat something so it’s going to be a squirrel or a pigeon or a rat but I suppose we don’t have to make it so easy for them. Poor little squirrel you witnessed!

I don’t know how easy it is to move a squirrel box or modify or get them to use another one… That would be interesting to know.

Cathryn.
WSP Blog

What do you think?

Note: this photo an encounter of a hawk and squirrel at the Park was from a few years ago (pre-Violet, Bobby and Pip).