Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now the world knows! The press release:

The news is out.Look for headlines tomorrow or the next day. And expect crowds at the hawk bench when hatch time draws near.

Parks, NYC Audubon, and Leading Hawk Experts Restore

Red-Tail Hawks Pale Male and Lola’s Fifth Avenue Coop

The Parks Department, NYC Audubon and red-tailed hawk experts today announced the restoration of the nest of the legendary red-tail hawks Pale Male and Lola on the 12th floor cornice of 927 Fifth Avenue. Concerned that this historically reproductive avian pair has failed to hatch chicks since re-establishing their nest on the Fifth Avenue building in the spring of 2005, Parks and New York City Audubon recently spearheaded a restoration of the duo’s nest and positive signs of copulation have since been observed.

“Over the years, the story of Pale Male and Lola has enthralled New Yorkers and nature lovers all over the world; we are thrilled to be able help make the Fifth Avenue nest a friendlier environment.” said NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Red-tail hawks are native to New York City and this spring we are hopeful that new chicks are born to continue the cycle of life.”

With the permission of the appropriate City agencies and the building’s co-op board, scaffold workers, under the direction of New York City Audubon, successfully removed stainless steel pigeon spikes protruding from the nest cradle that extended above the nest material and posed a potential threat to embryo development during the 5-6 week egg incubation period.

The spikes were discovered through NYC Audubon-commissioned photographs of the interior of the nest, taken from the building’s roof by wildlife photographers Donegal Browne and Jeff Kollbrunner. The spikes appeared to impede the bird’s ability to roll their eggs to evenly distribute embryonic fluids and tissues. The spikes also appeared to interfere with the hen’s ability to make proper contact with the eggs to her brood patch and keep the eggs consistently warm.

A study of three retrieved eggs laid in Spring 2007 by Dr. Ward Stone, Head of the NYS Wildlife Pathology Unit, revealed that toxicity was not a preventative factor in reproduction success.

The photographs led the panel of red-tailed hawk experts assembled by NYC Audubon to recommend the removal of the pigeon spikes. Panel members were Ron Austing, Dr. Keith Bildstein, John Blakeman and Dr. Heinz Meng. The repair of the nest’s cradle could be critical to the birds’ ability to produce chicks this spring and in the years to come.