Saturday, February 24, 2007

Looking good!

In this picture, taken yesterday, [2/23/07] the nest looks substantially bigger and thicker. This is the first photo of the nest I've seen since the nest removal crisis that hasn't made me think: Oh dear. Looks too skimpy. I don't want to raise false hopes, but...OK, so I'll raise false hopes. This looks good.

It was extremely windy here last night. I'll be waiting to see the next photo to see if everything looks as good, or, let's hope, even better.

Friday, February 23, 2007

John Blakeman responds:

Pale Male [below] and Lola -- Feb. 19, 2007


Your note on my involvement, however peripheral or distant, with Pale Male and all that he's come to symbolize, was most kind.

I hope that it is regarded by others as really a tribute to Pale Male and all the NYC hawkwatchers (especially yourself), the folks who have done the real work in bringing all of this to the entire world's attention. I am certain that the entire Pale Male saga has helped advance raptor conservation and appreciation in ways never possible, and particularly to audiences who would have never cared or learned.

Because of your efforts, Pale Male and all of the NYC raptors now belong to the widest, even worldwide, audience. As I see it, my role has been that of an informed raptor raconteur. Spending a few moments typing out some comments from time to time has been a privilege and duty, not a task.

My thanks to you.


John A. Blakeman

Thursday, February 22, 2007

About John Blakeman

John Blakeman and Savannah, his falconry redtail

You've been reading frequent contributions to this website from John Blakeman. Time to fill you in about how it all began:

On Wednesday December 8, 2004, shortly after the first reports of Pale Male’s nest destruction 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.

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 is what Pale Male and his consorts have done. 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

That was the beginning of an extraordinary relationship between a man and a community, one that has continued to this day. During the critical weeks immediately after the nest’s removal, Blakeman wrote frequent letters to all the concerned parties in the crisis—to the New York City Audubon offering advice about how best to make the ledge nestworthy for the hawks, and to the numbers of concerned hawkwatchers and Pale Male fans following the crisis on my website. During the early weeks he wrote [and I posted] letters relevant to the event itself – many of them reassuring to readers appalled by the building’s action and fearful of its effect on the hawk pair.

After the crisis was resolved and the new spike-holding structure was installed on the ledge, he became a valuable source of information about every possible question related to hawks and redtails in particular, what they eat, how they fly, how they hunt, how they sleep and many other subjects. Many website readers from all over the country and world wrote in their questions or observations; I forwarded them to the Ohio hawk expert. He always responded, usually on the same day I wrote..

John Blakeman continues to be extremely generous with his knowledge and time. Yet it has proved to be a mutually rewarding relationship. In the course of hundreds of letters going back and forth between Blakeman and the hawkwatchers, this expert on every aspect of redtail life [as he had come to know it over many years of intensive experience in rural Ohio,] found he had much to learn about these hawks when they live in a big city park.

One more thing about this relationship – I might even call it a friendship. Though John Blakeman has become a familiar presence in so many of our lives, not a single of his many Central Park fans has ever met him. Nobody has found the way from Central Park to Erie County, Ohio. And though he is a long-time reader of the New York Times and the New Yorker magazine, John Blakeman has never set foot in New York City.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Early Birders

Cooper's Hawk -- Feb 17, 2007
Photo by Bruce Yolton

For the last few weeks the Early Birders had been meeting at 7:30, but sunrise is now 6:42. This morning's walk reverted to 7 a.m, therefore.


Pale Male perched near entrance to Strawberry Fields - 6:55 a.m.
Eastern Towhee, male, at the Riviera,
Cooper's Hawk, young, near Cherry Hill
Carolina Wren, heard, near Upper Lobe.

We looked for woodcocks in the Oven but didn't find them. The paths were treacherously dotted with black ice, but everyone is still intact

PS An Indigo Bunting was seen at the feeders yesterday, around noon.

Monday, February 19, 2007

It happened yesterday

Photo by Bruce Yolton --Essex House sign with Pale Male Junior at the far right


At 11:58AM on Sunday morning Lola & Palemale mated on the Oreo building.

From Http://

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Woodpecker out my window

Riverside Park Red-headed Woodpecker - Dec. 17, 2006

Changes visible on Feb 17, 2007
Photos by Karen Fung

Karen Fung writes on e-birds:
I watched and photographed the Red-headed Woodpecker today [2/17] from
12-1:30. It stayed almost entirely on the west side of Riverside
Drive at 92nd Street. The new pics are here:

The gallery includes my first photos that were taken exactly two
months ago. The bird is definitely showing signs of maturity!

Jeff Nulle spotted the Ring-necked Pheasant two days ago (2/15) in the
woods north of the tennis courts (122nd St). First sighting was in
early January, and Jeff believes that's been there all this time,
either in the meadow or hiding in the woods. As I mentioned in my
earlier reports, do be careful if you go looking for it, as that area
is not well travelled or patrolled.

Good birding --
Karen Fung