Sunday, June 10, 2007

Remembrance of times past - two articles from the NY Times 2004

Just after the nest was removed -- December 8, 2007
Birds Nest Will Be Saved if Co-op Architect Says Yes
N.Y. Times
December 14, 2004

A baronial Fifth Avenue co-op building at the center of an
uproar over its destruction of a red-tailed hawks' nest
last week agreed yesterday to try to help the hawks rebuild
in the same spot overlooking Central Park - if an architect

"We had a very constructive meeting," said John Flicker,
president of the National Audubon Society, who, along with
three Audubon colleagues and city and state officials, met
for 90 minutes with the president of the co-op's board, its
management agent and a building engineer.

"It's a much better situation today than it was yesterday,"
said Mary Tyler Moore, a resident of the co-op, at 927
Fifth Avenue, who has joined bird lovers and naturalists
from across the nation in protesting the hawks' eviction.

Still, the negotiations yesterday, part of which took place
on the roof of the 74th Street co-op as the most famous of
the Fifth Avenue hawks, Pale Male, circled overhead,
provided only a first step toward ending a conflict that
some say requires speedy resolution.

"Good progress doesn't sound good enough to me," said Marie
Winn, a Manhattan author whose 1998 book on Pale Male and
his offspring was the basis of a public television
documentary. (Channel 13 in Manhattan said yesterday that
it had scheduled a rebroadcast of the film tonight at 8.)

Ms. Winn was among more than 100 protesters who gathered
opposite the co-op building yesterday afternoon, as they
have for days - chanting, encouraging drivers to honk their
horns and creating a ruckus rarely seen along one of
Manhattan's most elegant residential streets.

"I have suspected all along that what the co-op wants is to
stall just long enough so the hawks will leave," she said.
"And that could happen any day."

The saga of Pale Male and his mate, Lola, who have fed
happily on pigeons and rats in Central Park, reproduced
prodigiously from their roost above a 12th-story cornice,
and ultimately captivated the attention of much of the
city, came amid unavoidable questions of what the hawks
themselves will choose to do.

"We haven't been able to talk to the hawks, and they may
have their own plans," said Adrian Benepe, the city's
commissioner of parks, who attended the meeting yesterday
at 927 Fifth Avenue. Nonetheless, he said the negotiations
had yielded "good progress from the point of view that the
building really isn't legally obligated to do anything."

Besides Ms. Moore, residents of the co-op include the
newscaster Paula Zahn, whose husband, Richard Cohen, is
president of the board; Bruce Wasserstein, the Wall Street
dealmaker; and several other executives at the highest
levels of finance.

Before the hawks' nest was taken down last Tuesday, some
residents had complained that the birds left the bloody
carcasses of their prey on the roof and sidewalk, and their
nest created a safety hazard as parts of it fell to the
sidewalk, threatening pedestrians.

The nest was built in 1993 by Pale Male, who foraged twigs
and small branches from Central Park and assembled them on
a network of metal spikes that had been placed on the
12th-floor cornice to discourage pigeons. The spikes, which
were also removed last week, had the unintended effect of
holding a red-tailed hawk nest measuring eight feet across
in place for a decade.

Mr. Flicker said a central question addressed at the
meeting yesterday was whether the spikes would be restored
so Pale Male and Lola could rebuild in the same place, or
whether a new platform or box would be constructed and
provide a sturdy base for a new nest on the co-op's roof.

The Audubon Society officials insisted that the spikes be
restored, and that anything else would be inadequate. Their
position on the arcane question of how to provide a safe
habitat for red-tailed hawks at the center of large city
was buttressed by experts.

The neoclassical 12th-floor cornice adopted by Pale Male,
despite its ornate acanthus leaf detailing, made it "a
classic red-tail cliff site," which resembled the hawks'
habitat in the Western states and was far more attractive
than tree limbs or a wood platform, said John A. Blakeman,
an Ohio biologist who has researched the habitats of hawks
and falcons.

"They will absolutely reject a box," he said.

According to Mr. Benepe and Mr. Flicker, Mr. Cohen seemed agreeable
to returning the metal spikes to the cornice.
They said participants in the meeting saw clearly that the hawks were trying to rebuild, since they had left several twigs and
branches on the cornice, even though the foraged material would be blown away in a strong wind.

But they said Mr. Cohen insisted on consulting the co-op's
architect before making any commitment. No deadline was
set, and no follow-up meeting was scheduled.

"This needs to be done promptly," Mr. Flicker said. "The
longer you wait, the longer the risk to the birds."

"We wanted them to say the spikes will go up," Mr. Flicker
said, adding that he hoped hear the co-op's decision in the
matter today.

Yesterday, Pale Male and Lola were a clear presence over
the east side of Central Park, circling above the co-op and
the park's picturesque model-boat pond and, in Lola's case,
casually devouring a pigeon on a tree limb as dozens of
bird enthusiasts looked on.

Ms. Moore, who has shed the retinue of agents, public
relations specialists and others who normally surround
celebrities in proclaiming her support for the hawks,
emerged from 927 Fifth Avenue to answer questions from

"I just want to make sure that they take into consideration
what the birds' instincts are going to be," she said.

"I don't object to anything," Ms. Moore added. "I don't
care if they hang a nest from my living room window, that's

"I just want those hawks to be back in their natural
habitat and be peaceful."


two weeks later:

The New York Times
December 22, 2004
New Aerie Is Readied for Fifth Avenue Hawks

A stainless steel cradle designed to support a new nest for Pale Male and Lola, the red-tailed hawks of Fifth Avenue, is to be installed tomorrow on the co-op building where the hawks' former nest was removed on Dec. 7, according to the co-op's board and architect.

Naturalists and city officials yesterday praised the architect's design, and the co-op's timing, saying the cradle could resolve a dispute that has captivated bird lovers across the nation, while providing Pale Male and Lola with a safe roost from which to hatch fledglings next year.

"It perfectly melds our concerns for Pale Male with the concerns of the building," said E. J. McAdams, the executive director of New York City Audubon, who joined the architect, Dan Ionescu, on a visit to a Long Island machine shop where the framework was nearing completion late yesterday.

"We are all looking for Pale Male to come home for the holidays," Mr. McAdams said.

The new structure will incorporate steel pigeon spikes that were removed with the old nest when it was hauled down from a 12th floor cornice of the building, which is at 927 Fifth Avenue and overlooks Central Park at 74th Street. The spikes had prevented the hawks' nest, which grew over a decade to a width of eight feet across and to 400 pounds, from blowing away.

But the cradle also includes a guard rail and platform to prevent sticks and branches from falling to the sidewalk, a hazard posed by the old nest, according to some residents.

Mr. Ionescu, whose Manhattan firm was assisted by Beyer Blinder Belle, the architectural firm responsible for restoration projects at Ellis Island and Grand Central Terminal, said he and his staff had been working almost without interruption since last Friday.

"We had to make sure the end result would be a cradle where Pale Male would rebuild a nest, and that would assure the integrity of a landmark," he said. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission has already approved the design.

Mr. Ionescu said Audubon officials and naturalists had insisted that the protective guard rails not prevent Pale Male and Lola from fully extending their wings, which in Pale Male's case are more than four feet from tip to tip. That is why the rails will be contoured along the arch of the 12th-floor cornice.

Adrian Benepe, the city's parks commissioner, also remarked on the timing of the installation.

"I've been referring to it as a crèche," Mr. Benepe said.

But there is no assurance that Pale and Lola will immediately adopt the cradle as a new home, Mr. McAdams said.

Nonetheless, both hawks have been sighted flying over Central Park, and they show no inclination to go away. Mr. McAdams said they would have plenty of time to rebuild before their annual courtship rituals, usually in February. Lola typically lays her eggs in early March.

"We think the timing is perfect," Mr. McAdams said.