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.)

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

Squirrel Meet Hawk

Violet or Bobby? Probably Not Pip

Bird's Eye View?

That’s a squirrel box in the Park (erected by the Parks Department) and, yes, there’s a squirrel in there! Who, apparently, survived — at least, that day.

Last week, I posted commenter Drew’s thoughts as to how to help the Washington Square Park squirrels. He wrote:

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.

The hawks are going to eat squirrels or rats or pigeons but we don’t have to make it quite so easy! It seems like modifying the top of the boxes would be the easier thing to do and contemplating better locations.

Roger_Paw Blog has been documenting newest Red-tailed Hawk Pip’s exploration of Washington Square Park with some amazing footage. Pip is still being assisted with food from parents Bobby and Violet and Bobby is still looking out for her around the Park.

One of the hawk blogs said, within a few days of fledging (leaving the nest), Pip would be on her own and she might not make it if she didn’t figure how to survive quickly. But, like a lot I’ve read about the hawks that seems to be stated as fact and then seems to be a bit off, she is still acting like a young bird who needs her parents.

Pip isn’t quite in killing mode yet it seems. Here is footage of Pip taunting and being taunted by the squirrels. If this was Bobby or Violet tho’, this would not be the case!

More on Violet, Bobby and Pip on WSP Blog.

Previous WSP Blog Post: With 3 Hawks in the hood, Can we give the Washington Square Park squirrels a little assistance?

Photo: Drew O.

Neighborhood’s Newest Red-Tailed Hawk Pip Leaves the Nest! Meanwhile…

Pip on Scaffolding at Building Along Washington Square East

Newest neighborhood red-tailed hawk, Pip, fledged (left the nest) last week! I’m a bit behind reporting on the news but it happened on Thursday, June 23rd. According to the hawk blogs, he has not yet made his way into the park itself. He is mostly perching on buildings along the perimeter. Parents Violet and Bobby are still watching out for him, I’m happy to report. (Some of the blogs made it sound like he’d be on his own within days!)

Previous WSP Blog coverage of Violet, Bobby and Pip here.

Meanwhile, why are some wildlife appreciated and others used as scapegoats by city and federal agencies?

Photo: Roger Paw

Pip, Young Red-Tailed Hawk, Getting Ready to Leave the Nest above Washington Square!

It could be any day now. Pip, child of neighborhood hawks Violet and Bobby, has been doing flying motions, flapping his wings, and is almost ready to leave the nest (outside NYU President John Sexton’s office – again, what are the chances?). Young birds – from sparrows to pigeons – sometimes get down on the ground and out of the nest a wee bit early and then it’s always interesting, as a human who encounters them, figuring out how, when, and if, we intervene. (Probably a bit different with a hawk.)

Violet and Pip around June 5th

Pip Flapping His Wings, Sunday

Precious Pip, June 18th, 2011

New York Times City Room reports 6/19:

Sometime very soon — perhaps in a few days, maybe a week — Pip the red-tailed hawk will take a few more practice flapping hops, face the great wide world and, on untested wings, soar off the ledge where she has spent the first six weeks of life.

There is a good chance that she will never return.

Pip, as you may know, is the child reality-Web-TV star of City Room’s Hawk Cam, whose fast-forward metamorphosis from cottony puff pile to gawky adolescent outside a 12th-floor window at New York University has unfolded before a global audience. (Pip’s sex remains unknown, but by falconers’ convention, unsexed raptors are referred to as female).

He’s gotten so big! (I’ve always thought of Pip as a boy.) Tho’ the Times states: “Most fledglings starve to death during their first summer — Bobby and Pip’s mother, Violet, will leave dead rats in tree crotches for her for a few weeks, in part to keep her alive, and in part to keep her from boomeranging back to the nest. But by August or so, if Pip cannot find her own prey, she’s out of luck. Such are the ways of the wild.”

I think Pip will make it.

When Pip does fly, any day now, it’s going to be quite the occasion as he may land in a Washington Square Park tree. Look out, squirrels!

(I hadn’t written about Violet, Bobby and Pip since May 27th. So much else going on, with the Eastern side of the Park at last opening and all!)

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Photos #1 & 3: Bruce D. Yolton, Urban Hawks Blog

Photo #2: Heather Alonzo/Roger_Paw blog

This past weekend at the Park: Adoptapalooza, Violet & Bobby HawkWatch Fans Meet & World Science Festival Transforms

Adoptapalooza!

There was lots going on this past weekend at Washington Square. Good thing Phase II construction on the Eastern side finished in time!

First, Adoptapalooza on Saturday, June 4th featured over 100 cats and dogs for adoption. Fox News reports on the event here and Metromix New York has some great photos (including photo above). Metromix wrote:

Adoptapalooza is held regularly under the arch of Washington Square Park, celebrated with a day full of dog agility demonstrations, pet training, face-painting and photo ops.

This year over 100 adoptable dogs and cats were on hand to turn our hearts to mush and lick our faces clean off. There were mutts and pit bull mixes, papillons, beagles, puggles, chugs (chihuahua pugs, for the uninitiated), kittens and cats galore from shelters across the city. We wanted to take them all home with us! Trust us: one look at these faces and you will feel the same way!

Violet and Bobby (and Pip!) Hawk Cam followers via the New York Times met under the Arch on Sunday, June 5th at 10 a.m. The Times has the story here.

TreeHugger has a great piece on what went on at the park when the World Science Festival, a five day event (which sounds fantastic), came to the park on Sunday, its last day, utilizing the new “stage” and surrounding area.

Nice!

Photo: Gabi Porter

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