Hawk and Squirrel Benefit from Fenced-off Construction Area — Taking a Break from the Heat (Photos)

One benefit of the construction at the park is, that, with the fenced-off areas, it gives the wildlife some breathing room (when there’s work not being done, of course). Here, not far from one another, are pictures of one of the fledgling red-tailed hawks and a black squirrel … This was end of last week when it was extremely hot. The hawk had his (or her) mouth open and was almost panting; he had his wings slightly spread out — a few people who stopped by noted that this was because of the heat. I kept wanting to ask … how do you know that? They didn’t seem like the regular hawk-watchers and I’d never heard that tho’ it made sense. These two (squirrel and young hawk) were far enough away from one another tho’ some other squirrels got a bit close for comfort. Rosie (mom hawk) was in a tree not far away within the open Southeastern section of the park. She didn’t stay long – she took off and flew along Washington Square South and it was an amazing sight to witness. No photos of that – it was too awe-inspiring and quick to get a shot but here are some of the others:

Hawk within Phase III construction area

Black squirrel taking a break…

Young hawk closer up…

Notice the way the left leg is jutting out (very Angelina Jolie at the Oscars!)

On ground attempting to hunt and catch…



Photos: Cathryn

Idyllic Saturday at the Park: Music, Fountain, Open Lawn … Hawks! (And More.)

This looks like an idyllic Saturday at the park on the NW end with music, the fountain in the background, the lawn (for the most part) open…

And then… you realize there’s a hawk above taking it all in!

juvenile hawk…

This is one of the neighborhood juvenile hawks… Boo or Scout (so named by New York Times‘ readers, in a nod to “To Kill a Mockingbird”), child to Rosie and Bobby. Other wild life was abundant as well including…

A flock of pigeons swoop through the sky…

Sparrow people-watching on to open lawn

A monarch butterfly…

this colorful performance troupe was practicing on Garibaldi stage

Just a snapshot of what was going on…
Photos: Cathryn

Squirrel at Garibaldi Plaza

Name the New Washington Square Park Gal Hawk; Voting Ends Today After Voter “Fraud” at New York Times Site

Updated(at end)

Squirrel and New Gal Hawk Play?

Updated – So the New York Times is running a poll to choose the name for the new Washington Square Park hawk. I was never quite able to ID Violet over Bobby – never really seeing them too close either – but the “new gal in town” has a very distinctive RED tail. Yes, they are red-tailed hawks but this is veryred and, when she flies, it really shows.

Some people started calling her Noelle when she appeared Christmas Eve Day but, then, I think perhaps Roger_Paw started calling her Rosie based on her distinctive red markings. That name resonated with me. She’s very much a Rosie, strong and spunky. Whereas Noelle; it’s a beautiful name, but, for this hawk, it sounds a bit … I don’t know… meek.

Anyway, you can take part in the poll over here at the New York Times.

Note: there was voter fraud (!) so they are redoing the poll – it ends at 1:43 p.m. today!

I learned a lot from the hawk watchers at the park on Sunday. I was quite worried about the squirrel in the above photo (so priceless the look between the hawk and the squirrel – maybe I’ll try editing it a bit later edited) but one woman told me that the squirrels taunt the hawks to see how far they “can go.”

And it did indeed seem this way. “Rosie” would make a slight move with her wings as if to go for the squirrel and the squirrel would immediately dart away. The squirrel even going as far as up to the branch she was on.

The hawk watcher told me that the squirrels also can wrap themselves around trees so they are not quite so easy to catch. (Although, she noted, “Rosie” did catch one on the ground the other day.) New Gal Hawk knew this squirrel was not a viable option as she stopped paying attention, preening and cleaning herself although every once in awhile she’d do a little jab in the squirrel’s direction. She didn’t seem too fixated whereas I was sitting there on pins and needles.

Oh! Also, she was bringing twigs to the former nest outside NYU President John Sexton’s office on the 12th floor of the Bobst Library that day. (Note — it is not confirmed that they are officially a couple.)

Update! Rosie won.

Hazardous Pesticide Spraying in Prospect Park Tonight

Prospect Park Lady Bug - Dead Soon?

After first saying that pesticide spraying would not occur in Prospect Park because of the Celebrate Brooklyn concerts – something that raised a few eyebrows (either something is urgent, or it is not) – the New York City Department of Health backtracked and said pesticide spraying will occur tonight after midnight in the Park.

Prospect Park is a 585 acre park with a 60 acre lake. There are dragonflies and bats — both natural predators of the mosquito, as well as butterflies, ladybugs, bees — all are killed by the pesticide spraying. In addition, people walking through the park tomorrow morning will be breathing in fresh pesticide spray which has known and detrimental health effects. People will be walking their dogs which are close to the ground and they will breathe in and walk through the harmful pyrethroid pesticide, Anvil 10+10.

A few years ago, I flyered Prospect park-goers with literature about the health effects of the pesticides and a woman stopped to tell me, that, after walking through the park the morning after it had been sprayed, she encountered numerous lady bugs on the ground dying.

This is our eco-system — we are charged with protecting it; not killing it.

You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning than getting the West Nile virus. If someone did get West Nile, typically, they would not know it or might experience a slight cold.

The city is also spraying other sections of Brooklyn and Queens. Originally the spraying was to take place Wednesday, August 3rd but was delayed due to rain.

See further information from the No Spray Coalition, an organization I work with —

NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY

The City has announced it will spray dangerous pesticides in crowded residential areas in Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, August 4th, 2011.

The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg’s and the City’s Department of Health decision to renew the mass-spraying — no legitimate reasons given.

We also condemn the New York City government’s advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths. The City knows this; we negotiated an agreement with the City last year that they wouldn’t recommend DEET.

Furthermore, this year’s spray of choice — Anvil 10+10 — is listed in Local Law 37 (2005 update, see page 1, paragraph 4, discussion of table 2) that states that for piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264 contained as synergists in Anvil 10 + 10, that:

both of these chemicals are classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Only 94 products contain pyrethrins without other carcinogen ingredients. Therefore, most products containing pyrethrins continue to be prohibited under LL37 even if the reference to the EPA list was updated.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if it contains PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled not only by NYC’s reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes, but for the City’s very short notice — around 24 hours, that’s it!

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,” said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.

That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
– may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
– cause adverse health effects
– kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies)
– increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
– are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. “That is simply a lie,” said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. In fact, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,” Howard Brandstein added. “Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10” — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”) (more…)

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).

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

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. ]