Baby Red-Tailed Hawk at Washington Square Leg Entangled – For Now, Intervention Pending

Rosie and Baby Hawks

Majorly adorable

First Mama Hawk Violet’s troubles with her leg band, now new baby hawk above Washington Square is having issues with her leg being entangled in a plastic bag in the nest …

The story from the New York Times(May 5):

For the last three days, one of the baby red-tailed hawks in Washington Square Park has had one leg tangled in a white plastic bag, causing panic among Hawk Cam fans about her well-being.

A team of wildlife experts, including the executive director of NYC Audubon, Glenn Phillips, has been closely monitoring the situation and working out how best to reach the baby hawk should it become necessary to intervene. The plan, for now, is to wait until next week before taking action on the nest.

“We all agree that the chick is not in any immediate danger, and that there is a good chance that the chick will free itself from the bag,” Mr. Phillips said in an e-mail.

But, he added, if by next week the eyas has not freed itself from the disposable bag, then a Long Island-based wildlife rehabilitator, Bobby Horvath, will attempt a rescue with a long-poled net.

It seems like some lessons were learned from last time.

Commenters at the Times‘ story had valid suggestions –

from mricle from the Bronx: “If we can ban smoking in public parks and beaches, we can ban disposable plastic bags. Even though paper bags kill trees, they certainly cause less pollution and wildlife issues, and are mostly biodegradable.”

from Sarah from Brooklyn: “Maybe this will be a wake up call to people about the evils of plastic bags!”

I haven’t written about this year’s hawks’ nest or the now growing baby hawks partly because I’m still sad over Violet’s death. For certain, new mom (and Bobby’s new mate) Rosie is really interesting and fun to watch but there was something very special about Violet. I felt for many of the hawk watchers whether there were new baby hawks this year was paramount, and, as long as there was a replacement mate, that was what mattered. I’m sure that’s not how it was – but that’s how it at times appeared. (Not targeting any specific person by any means…)

I never quite realized how intrusive the camera is in the nest. With all sophisticated technology available today, I wonder — could it be a bit less ‘in their faces?’

Photo: D. Bruce Yolton/Urban Hawks Blog

Archive at WSP Blog on Violet, Bobby and Pip

Advertisements

Neighborhood Red-Tailed Hawks Pip and Violet Look out on Washington Square

Pip and Violet

Pip, baby hawk born to Washington Square hawks Bobby and Violet, was named by New York Times readers where the City Room Blog has been meticulously tracking the hawks’ progress from a video cam of the nest set on the ledge of NYU’s Bobst Library. There’s video at the Urban Hawks blog of Pip and Violet with Pip wandering close to the edge of the ledge. Pip is now pretty big (this picture doesn’t quite show it).

Photo: D. Bruce Yolton

Previous WSP Blog Posts on Violet and Bobby:

* No Intervention Right now for Mama Hawk Violet; Rodenticide All Removed at Washington Square Park

* Violet & Bobby Nest-Watch: Baby Hawk Spotted! On Heels of Riverside Park Hawk Death, Can we Rid Washington Square of Hazardous Rodenticide?

* Hawks Set up Nest Around the Park — “Violet & Bobby” VideoCam Watch

Neighborhood Red-Tailed Hawk Bobby and His Favorite Haunts around Washington Square

This map tracks Red-tailed hawk Bobby’s (of Bobby and Violet and now newest addition, Pip) favorite spots to perch around Washington Square and was put together by the Urban Hawks Blog.

They are:

1) Nest location on Bobst Library
2) Cross on Judson Memorial Church
3) Favorite Flag Pole
4) Failed 2010 One Fifth Avenue Nest
5) Various other perches

One recent afternoon, I searched for our new neighborhood addition thinking I might catch sight of him atop one of these pictured spots. Judson Church, “favorite” Flag Pole and the NYU Bobst Library are all visible from the center of the park (where the fountain used to be) on the Fountain Plaza.

Then I just looked straight up and there he was (I’m assuming it was Bobby but it could have been Violet), high up in the sky flying so free and beautifully. I am not a species-ist; I like all forms of animals and wildlife and believe we should respect their right to co-exist on this earth with us. However, I can see why some city people focus in on the hawks and are enchanted and perhaps become a bit obsessed with them. Just the size of a postage stamp in the sky, this red-tailed hawk appeared peaceful and majestic.

No Intervention Right Now for Mama Hawk Violet; Rodenticide Seems to All Be Removed at Washington Square Park

(Updated; photos) Update from the New York Times City Room site which features a sweet video of people in Washington Square Park yesterday patiently watching the 12th floor window at Bobst Library and discussing what the next steps might be for Mama Hawk, Violet. Red-tailed hawk Violet’s foot has swelled due to a metal band on her leg placed at some point by presumably a researcher which is now constricting the leg.

After their evaluation of Violet yesterday, the NY State DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has decided to let Violet be, for now. I’m not sure that this is the right decision. It’s a hard call, no matter what. I didn’t like their plan to remove her, not to be returned, so I’m glad that’s not happening.

The Urban Hawks blog cautioned that this is a “lost opportunity” and that wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath’s plan (to attempt to capture Violet from the adjacent window, remove the band, treat with antibiotics and put her back in the nest immediately) should have been put into place.

Angela commented here on yesterday’s post agreeing with my thoughts on banding (against it) but believes leaving Violet alone is the right thing to do: “There is too much risk to birds and humans to attempt the rescue. I disagree with you about the Horvaths. Their plot to trap her with a net 11 flights up in a challenging urban environment was ridiculous and extremely dangerous, and I question their expertise for promoting such a scheme.”

Link to Times’ story and video (they interviewed two concerned people at Washington Square; I very much appreciated their thoughtful comments).

On the Rodenticide Issue —

Good news: as far as I could see, all of the rodenticide at Washington Square Park has been removed! Let’s hope they will keep it out and work on improved sanitation methods.

However, I did see a bait station half a block away from the Park at the NYU Building La Maison Francaise on University Place.

Yesterday’s WSP Blog post: NYS DEC, Mama Hawk Violet’s Rescue and Remembering Hal the Central Park Coyote

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

Does anyone remember Hal the coyote who was living freely for awhile in Central Park, evading capture, before finally being caught, and dying at the hands of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation when they handled his “tagging” vs. leaving this task in the hands of experienced wildlife rehabilitators? Instead, politics and ego got in the way. This feisty, healthy creature was dead at 1 year old while “being tagged for release.” What I heard, the back story, was that the person who insisted on handling this, handled Hal incorrectly and this amazing coyote died. The tag is the coyote equivalent of a band which is what is causing Mama hawk Violet’s leg to swell. The tagging and the banding go on.

There is great concern about the decision by NYU to have the DEC handle beautiful mama red-tailed hawk, Violet vs. the Horvaths, certified wildlife rehabilitators. Yes, their plan to capture Violet sounded risky but no less risky than now deciding that Violet may not return to her nest at all? According to the New York Times City Room Blog, the DEC is working on this today, perhaps as I write this.

When Bobby and Violet set up their nest outside NYU President John Sexton’s office (what are the chances?), I worried about the University and Sexton’s involvement but it seemed fine – up until this point. I am concerned they were not able to think through this particular situation clearly; calling in the DEC indicates this. (I did, after all, witness John Sexton’s up-is-down speech in support of Mayor Bloomberg and abolishing voted-in term limits.)

Violet and Bobby, the new neighborhood red-tailed hawks and their baby, have taken the place of the Washington Square Arch on NYU’s home page – temporarily, of course.

I don’t believe animals and wildlife should be banded unless a true argument was made on an individual basis. It was a band placed on Violet’s leg that constricted it, causing it to swell and why she may now need attention and intervention. Humans decide that these bands placed by “researchers” are not bothering the animal. How do they know? At Prospect Park, some of the Canada Geese, before all of them were killed at the hands of the city, had big yellow bands placed around their necks with numbers on them, I presume, by the DEC. How do we know this is not bothersome, does not affect them in some way as they go about their lives?

Can we at least learn from Hal and not cause other suffering and death and let nature be?

Parks Department says Rodenticide Removed at Washington Square. (And yet…) On Rethinking Use of Poison in Our Parks

Rat Poison Sign Washington Sq Park

The City’s Parks Department told the New York Times yesterday (May 6th) that they were removing the rodenticide “bait stations” at Washington Square that day to accommodate red-tailed hawk couple Violet and Bobby and their newborn hatchlings now residing above the park. This is good news!

However, at 7 p.m. yesterday, bait stations were still visible along Washington Square South and Washington Square East behind Phase II construction fences and close to the Bobst Library; the building’s 12th floor ledge accommodates Violet and Bobby’s nest.

From New York Times City Room Blog, “The Dangers of Rat Poison”:

bait station at base of tree washington sq south

The main threat Bobby and Violet’s brood face, and it is a serious one, is from Bobby bringing home a poisoned rat for dinner. Rat poisoning is believed to have caused the death last month of an adult male red-tail in Riverside Park, state officials say.

The city parks department regularly sets poison in rat burrows in Washington Square Park, which the hawks’ nest looks out on. But in anticipation of a possible hawk hatch, the department has refrained from doing so since April 22.

bait station, washington square east

“We will not be placing additional rat poison in the park while the hawks are fledging,” Phil Abramson, a parks spokesman, said in an e-mail Friday.

“Parks staff is searching the park today to make sure there are no bait boxes or any other signs of poison remaining.”

*******************************************************************

Hopefully, those remaining bait stations, pictured above left, were located and removed today.

Meanwhile, it might be time to rethink rat poison in our city parks in general.

In Robert Sullivan’s book, “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants,” he interviews David E. Davis, “the founding father of modern rat studies.”

Sullivan writes: [Davis] consulted with cities on their rats, preaching his most important discovery throughout the country – that poisoning rats was not in itself an effective way of controlling them. In fact, when rats are killed off, the pregnancy rates of the surviving rats double and the survivors rapidly gain weight. The rats that survive become stronger. “Actually, the removal merely made room for more rats,” Davis wrote.

The only way to get rid of rats was to get rid of the rat food, or garbage, but no one wanted to hear this: as it was the dawn of the age of ecology so also it was the dawn of the age of the chemical, of poisons and pesticides, and people seemed to want a sexier, chemical-based fix.

Seems they still do.

Photos: Cathryn

Yesterday’s WSP Blog Post: Violet and Bobby Nest-Watch: Baby Hawk Spotted! On Heels of Riverside Park Hawk’s Death, Can We Rid Washington Square of Hazardous Rodenticide?

Update: In a tense turn of events, not poison-related, Violet’s foot is entwined in plastic netting leg is being constricted by a wildlife identification band placed there by a researcher. Wildlife rehabilitators and hawk experts Bobby and Cathy Horvath are coming today to see if they can help and somehow spring her from it! [5/9: They will be attempting a rescue mission from the window ledge to remove the band in the next few days. The bands don’t usually cause this to happen but it does make you wonder in general about placing bands on birds and other animals. ]

Hawks’ Nest Across from the Park: Violet & Bobby Update

Bobby in the nest with Washington Square Park beneath

4/26 – people are keeping watch. eggs are about to hatch!

The New York Times is updating regularly (almost incredibly so) about the two hawks – named “Bobby and Violet” – and their nest across from Washington Square Park as the hatching of the 3 eggs is awaited.

The hawks set up their nest right outside NYU President John Sexton’s office (what are the chances?) at the Bobst Library on Washington Square South who certainly turned it into a publicity opportunity – video, Twitter account @NYUredtailhawks, and all.

The Latest On Violet & Bobby at the New York Times.

Previous WSP Blog Post: Hawks Set Up Nest Around the Park — “Violet & Bobby” VideoCam Watch

Photo: Christopher James/NYU

Washington Square Hawks Attempt New Nest in Nabe & On Hawks in the City

Last Year

Pale Male Irregulars Blog reports that two Washington Square Park hawks – who I’ve never seen – are attempting to build a new nest in the neighborhood. Last year two hawks, perhaps the same ones, attempted to do the same but were not successful. Apparently, it is difficult for hawks’ nests to survive on most city building ledges. Blogger Donegal Browne contacted photographer and hawkwatcher Francois Portmann (who took the photo above) to check out this potential nest location on a building surrounding the park.

Portmann reported back:

If this pair tries nesting there, my bet is: the nest may get blown off in high winds. These window sills have no anchor options. It’s the same kind of set up as last year on One 5th ave! Time for the Blakeman “Nest Nooks”!!

The Blakeman “Nest Nooks” for people, like me, who were not previously aware of their existence, were designed by John Blakeman to assist the birds in keeping their nests secure by providing a structure which could be attached to a tree or building from which they could work off of. There was a Red-tail pair in the neighborhood last year (at One Fifth Avenue) whose nest “disintegrated” because of the challenges of maintaining the nest on buildings.

Browne further writes of some of the troubles with urban nests. For some fledglings [young birds] who left the nest early, “they were not flighted enough to gain elevation for flight once grounded, were found standing on the sidewalk” or if they did not have adequate space for “pre-flight exercises,” they would be found injured upon hitting the ground or sidewalk.

Well, that’s not good! While people love to watch the hawks, is this a sign that this may not be the best environment for them? Urban environments are home to mostly pigeons and other birds, and, in some of the parks and city neighborhoods, squirrels.

The blog then suggests that a structure be placed on a tree within Washington Square Park to help the hawks build their nest. This, I have to say, is a really bad idea. The park’s resident squirrels and pigeons would have way too hard a time surviving that.

While I want the hawks to survive, they can keep a little distance.

This brings up other questions: Should the hawks be encouraged to live in a highly populated city where, whatever issues there are with their existence here, it’s hard for them to survive? Should they be encouraged to live near a 10 acre park (Washington Square) vs. an 843 acre park?

***************************************************

Previous WSP Blog post with picture of hawk-meeting-squirrel (alive) on a tree at Washington Square.