Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chathdral redtail kids

For latest report on the Chathedralofledglings -- yes, they've ALL fledged -- check out Robert Schmunk's blog

Friday, June 15, 2007

888 7th Ave. Fledgling news

Baby hawk refueled, clear for takeoff soon

The fallen baby hawk rescued in Manhattan was nursed back to health yesterday with the help of a surrogate mama.

The fallen baby hawk rescued in Manhattan was nursed back to health yesterday with the help of a surrogate mama - and he may be ready for release soon.

"He's stretching, he's exercising his wings. He's doing everything he should be doing," said licensed wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath, 44, who has been caring for the red-tailed hawk, dubbed Ziggy by a reader at, at his Long Island home.

The 7-week-old fledgling was grounded Wednesday after losing control during his first flight and plunging into a courtyard near the Ziegfeld Theater on W. 55th St.

Yesterday, Ziggy took a step closer to a return to the urban wild.

After spending the night resting in Horvath's home, the brown, white-speckled hawk migrated in the morning to the backyard, where Horvath keeps a 25-by-12-foot flight cage. It's 9 feet tall.

The hawk immediately befriended the cage's other resident: a permanently flightless red-tailed hawk named Diana.

"He went right up to her," Horvath said.

Ziggy let out a piercing scream - hawk baby talk for, "I'm hungry."

The 10-year-old mama hawk, who was shot in the wing at age 3, went to work.

Using her beak, Diana fed the youngster a breakfast of chopped rodent. Then she sat beside him on a wooden branch, feathers puffed in a sign of maternal protectiveness.

Still, Horvath worried about the hawk's recovery time. There's only a narrow window for returning missing hawk chicks to their nest.

By the end of the day yesterday, the baby still hadn't taken a full flight.

"We want to get it back, but we don't want to rush it just to satisfy people who want to get it back in the wild," Horvath said.

Meanwhile, city birders anxiously awaited Ziggy's return.

Accountant Brett Odom has been monitoring what he believes is the hawk's nest from his midtown office window since the parent hawks arrived there this spring.

Since the fledgling went missing from the nest on the 36th floor of 888 Seventh Ave., Odom has watched the mother hawk waiting in the now-empty nest and searching the area.

"I hope he comes back soon," said Odom, 36, of Chelsea. "She's probably wondering where he is."

Thanks to Ben Cacace for sending me this story.

Constipated caterpillar?

Pupa, June 16, 2007

Caterpillar - June 3, 2007

Yesterday the Forest Tent Caterpillar I've been raising in a jar at my Union Square office [watching it is much more fun than working!] began to behave strangely. Up until yesterday he had been an all-day munching-machine -- and the bottom 0f his nice new jar I'd gotten from the Container Store was always littered with copious quantities of frass. [Frass = insect droppings]

Yesterday he went on a hunger strike. Maybe he didn't like the leaves I'd provided, I thought , and went to the park to get new ones. But he spurned those too. Moreover he was now constipated.! Not a single black dot of frass to be seen in the jar. Well, of course not--he wasn't eating.

I noticed another change. Instead of steadily eating, he now slowly moved around in a corner of the jar, moving his head first to the left and then to the right. I could also faintly see little strands of spider-web like stuff coming out of some part of his head. He was weaving, back and forth with his loom. Yes, like spiders, some [all?] caterpillars have spinnerets, and the caterpillar was now weaving a sort of web. You may remember that it is a Forest Tent Caterpillar. Well, this looked like a tent-in-the-making.

This morning when I arrived at the office I was astonished to find my caterpillar gone. Instead....[trumpets please] the large white and spotted pupa you see in the picture above..The white ovoid thing is the pupa, the grey around it is the web of fine, transparent filaments: the tent.

I wonder how long it will be before the moth emerges?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Story from this morning's Daily News

A downy red-tailed hawk plunged from the sky after leaving its nest for the first time yesterday.

Urban Park Rangers director Sara Hobel holds the rescued fledging after it was found on a courtyard near the famed Ziegfeld Theater on W. 55th St. The bird was taken to a sanctuary on Long Island.

Our feathered friend

Red-tailed hawk nests in city: 45

Wingspan: 42-56 inches

Length: 17-25 inches

Weight: 1.5 to 3.3 pounds

First Flight: Six-seven weeks old

Age expectancy: 28 years

Offspring: Usually hatch two chicks each spring

Most famous red-tailed hawks: Lola and Pale Male of Fifth Ave.

How many New Yorkers does it take to save a fallen baby bird?

For a downy red-tailed hawk that plunged from the sky after leaving its nest for the first time yesterday, it took practically an army.

Nine cops, three city Parks Department rangers, a volunteer from the Audubon Society, a licensed hawk rehabilitator, a half-dozen good Samaritans, a homeless man, a gaggle of paparazzi and 50 gawkers converged at a midtown courtyard after the brown-and-white speckled bird touched down.

"People were taking pictures of it like it was Angelina Jolie," said Chris Ferretti, who was walking his dogs when he spotted the bird huddled against the back wall of the famed Ziegfeld Theater on W. 55th St.

The only-in-New-York saga began around 8 a.m. yesterday, when several people saw the dazed hawk struggling to fly away. The bird seemed desperate to get off the ground. Natural predators were everywhere.

Moments later, a homeless man picked up the bird and tried to run away with it.

But he didn't get far.

"There was an angry mob and we were like, 'Where you going with that bird?'" said Ferretti, 44.

The vagrant placed the hawk back on the pavement and slipped away.

Over the next 90 minutes, concerned onlookers called Animal Care and Control, the Bronx Zoo, the city Parks Department, the Audubon Society and anyone else they could think of to come rescue the hawk.

"I never thought it would be so hard to get anyone to help," said Dora Amerio, 34, an accountant from Astoria.

Finally, about 10 a.m., three cops from the Midtown North Precinct blocked off the courtyard to keep pedestrians away from the bird. Soon after, the NYPD's elite Emergency Service Unit truck rolled up.

Almost simultaneously, a volunteer from the Audubon Society, a freelance licensed bird rehabilitator from upstate New York and three uniformed members of the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers arrived.

Another hawk, perhaps the chick's mother or father, was seen circling high above the courtyard. But Sara Hobel, the director of the Urban Park Rangers, said the older hawk did not dive down to feed the baby because it was surrounded by so many people.

All of them wanted to rescue the little bird.

"It's like it's a custody fight," said Sarah Iams, the Audubon society volunteer who is trained to rescue injured wild birds.

Iams added, "The largest thing I've ever saved is a sea gull."

The would-be rescuers conferred and the Parks Department won out. Rangers covered the bird in a blanket and whisked it away to their E. 105th St. headquarters to check for injuries — but found none.

The bird is not related to the city's most famous red-tailed hawks, Pale Male and Lola, who won the hearts of New Yorkers by making their nest atop a Fifth Ave. co-op. Hobel said she traced yesterday's hawk to a nest near Central Park South and Seventh Ave.

Bird watchers had spotted the hawk taking its maiden flight from the nest some time late Tuesday, Hobel said.

With the overnight storm, it's likely the hawk got disoriented and crashed into a building and then fell to the ground. Its weak flight skills kept it trapped in the courtyard, Hobel said.

Many fledglings falter during the first flight, she explained. Typically, the hawk parents will fly down to their chicks and feed them until they get their strength back up and can fly again.

If the baby bird hadn't been rescued, it probably would have died of dehydration or injury, Hobel said. Only about 15% to 25% of fledglings survive their first year. But this hawk's going to be fine, rescuers said.

By 2 p.m., the hawk was on its way to a trusted rehabilitator on Long Island. When it's rehydrated and ready to fly, the bird will be brought back to the city and released, hopefully within the next few days, near Central Park South.

"He will find his way back to his nest," Hobel predicted. "The most important thing for us it to educate people that we're the right people to call."

About the 888 7th Ave. fledgling

Dear readers:

I was away yesterday, so just got into the loop of this story, Getting great numbers of calls and e-mails. Here's a summary of what I know:

1. The fledgling was in trouble shortly after leaving the nest yesterday, as fledglings very often are. If the bird had been in the country somewhere, the parents would have taken care of it until its flying skills improved, But it had landed on a crowded street, was surrounded by well-meaning but unhelpful people and ended up being taken in by the Central Park Urban Park Rangers. They, in turn, passed the bird over to a wildlife rehabilitator named Bobby Horvath - Massapeque NY. It appears that the bird was not injured, but I don't know this first hand.

2. This morning I spoke to Len Soucy, world famous bird rehabilitator and founder of the Raptor Trust in Millington NJ. He looked up Horvath -- found him in the book of licenced rehabilitators. Soucy agreed with me -- and just about everyone else-- that if the bird is uninjured he should be returned to Central Park as quickly as possible. I gave Horvath's phone number to Len, as published on the website. Len said he would call him, find out what the state of the bird is, and whether a return to the park is imminent.

3. I also spoke top Regina Alvarez, Woodlands Manager of CP. She'll see what she can do.

This is all I can do for now. I'll let you know as soon as there are any new developments.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Junior & Charlotte's only child fledges!

The 888 nestling a few days ago - photo by Bruce Yolton-[check his site for much more hawk news from all over the city.]

Brett Odum, [a friend of Bruce Yolton] who can see Junior and Charlotte's nest and nestling at 888 7th Avenue out of his office window, just sent in exciting news:

Subject: 888 7th Avenue Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 09:29:49 -0400 Sometime between last night and this morning the eyas at 888 7th Avenue fledged. I have not been able to locate him as of yet from my office If any of you hear of anything (good or bad) can you please either email me or post it on your blogs. I've been reading them religiously this year. Also, if there are any tips on how to locate fledged hawks, please pass them along and I will keep an eye out for him from my window. Regards, Brett Odom

James O'Brien wrote him back:

That's great news...he's probably hanging out on top of a bldg! The best way to locate him is to look for the parents. They will be bringing him/her food, so when you see them with prey, they'll be calling and circling trying to lure the fledgling out.

At night in the Shakespeare Garden

Monday at the garden. The long, long legs are a giveaway for this cranefly we saw at 10p.m. on a low leaf.
A tiny, tiny moth [a tiny tiny image of it, too] we've seen before, and successfully identified. It's Callima argenticinctella-- translation = Beautiful silver-belted moth. That little band you can see if you look closely at the photo is shiny silver in real life.

There were hundreds of tiny gnats at the moth light that drove us crazy, probably because of the earlier rain. Finally they drove us away.
Now we're waiting for something BIG to arrive.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two Fordham kids fledge- Report from Rich

One Fordham fledgling [check the pantaloons]

Another Fordham fledgling [check those spikes!]
Photos by Rich Fleisher

Update on the Fordham Hawks

As of today, Tuesday, two of the eyases have successfully fledged. Not only have they fledged but they are not at all cautious in trying out their new found skill. They could be spotted on top of several different buildings around campus that are not proximate to the nest building. Very different from last year, when the first week of fledging consisted of flying to the trees nearby Collins Hall (where the nest is located). I suspect that the third, who spent much of today whining each time one of the other Hawks flew by will be fledging very soon (Wednesday or Thursday).


Richard Fleisher
Political Science Department

Unisphere redtails--a letter from Queens

Hi Marie,

I have written you before as a big fan of Pale Male. I was fascinated to read on your website about the nest here in Queens on the Unisphere. I am managing editor of the Queens Chronicle and decided to do a story on it. I went out this morning with a photographer and found the nest and the male soaring in the area. A Parks Dept. supervisor came around who is very bird oriented and we had a nice chat. According to him, there have been redtail hawks at Flushing Meadows Park for five to six years. There was one nest on the tower of the NY State Pavilion tower. He believes there are several families in the park at this time. Regarding the Unisphere family, they have been there awhile---at least two years. Al, the supervisor, said the hawks like to hunt at Meadow Lake and find a ready supply of rats and pigeons. Fascinating! Please tell John Blakeman that these wonderfully adaptive hawks have taken up residence in yet another urban park in New York City. I think it's terrific!

Best regards,
Liz Rhoades

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.

Nesting on the Unisphere

Two photos by Rich Fleisher

Here's Bruce Yolton's photo of the whole Unisphere, in case you've never seen it.

Rich Fleisher writes about the Flushing Meadow Unisphere nest

Given the very interesting discovery about the nest on the Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair, I went to Flushing Meadow Park to check out the nest. Given the openess of the structure, it was real easy to find the two adults and the two eyases. One of the eyeases has fledged while it seemed to me that the other was still tied to the nest. Real interesting to watch them fly from one spot on the sphere to another. Very different from the other types of nests where it is hard to follow the adults when they leave the immediate nest area. Given the nature of this structure, it sure helps to know one's geography when trying to explain to someone else where on the structure they should look to find the Hawks.

PS from Marie: The nest is just above Indonesia.

New Moth found by Mothers [rhymes with authors]

Last Thursday, June 7, four Mothers,the non-maternal kind, set up a black light in the Shakespeare Garden and resumed their nocturnal lepidopteran studies . There were a few familiar moth visitors -- six Fine-lined Grays, for instance, and an American Idia. And there was one tiny little moth we'd never seen before. It had very distinctive brown and chalky-white markings. We couldn't find anything like it in our Field Guide {Covell's Eastern Moths] which is not surprising: there are tens of thousands of moth species around. Consequently the book can only include the larger ones.
I sent a photo of the critter to Hugh McGuinness, a moth expert on Long Island, and he quickly sent me an answer identifying our mystery moth.

And the envelope please...

Henricus contrastanus, a member of the Cochylidae family