Thursday, April 05, 2007

From the archives: First letter from John Blakeman

The Falconer of Central Park - statue at 72nd St transverse near West Dribe

On Wednesday December 8, 2004, shortly after the first reports of the nest removal began appearing in newspapers and on TV, I received an e-mail letter from a red-tailed hawk expert in Ohio named John Blakeman. He must have found the address on my website. I thought readers of this website who have enjoyed so many illuminating essays by John Blakeman might enjoy seeing his first one:

Dear Ms. Winn,

I am a licensed falconer and raptor biologist with over 30 years of personal experiences with the majestic red-tailed hawk. Please understand the shared concerns Ohio falconers have concerning the destruction of the famous Central Park nest.

It's bad enough that any active redtail nest would be so cavalierly struck down. But for all of us, Pale Male's nest was special. As a redtail biologist I recognize both the pair's urban rarity and unique success. The fact that the pair fledged a trio of eyasses (the proper name for baby hawks) last year testifies that the pair was extremely successful. Three eyasses is the maximum the species can possibly raise in a year, and it can only be done under the most ideal circumstances.

Out here in the distant countryside, we especially delight that urban New Yorkers can now merely step into Central Park with a pair of binoculars and see this great redtail spectacle. Formerly, these delights were reserved to those of us out in wild redtail country. Now, these great birds have come into New York for everyone to enjoy.

I regard Pale Male as a typically-representative new American. New York City has been the fertile ground of American innovation from newcomers for two centuries. The characteristic American traits of overcoming difficulties, seeing new personal opportunities, and following through with successes against all odds are what Pale Male and his consorts have demonstrated. Pale Male ain't just a bird. He's an American, sharing the traits of all of us, rural or urban. Thanks for telling his story; it's a portion of each of our own. Pale Male will be back!


John A. Blakeman
Ohio Falconry Association