Friday, October 03, 2008

Pale Male and Lola

Pale Male and Lola - September 20, 2008
Photo courtesy of

Today I received the following e-mail from Donna A of NYC:

I've been looking on the internet for information whether Pale Male & Lola hatched any fledglings this year... can you respond or send me a link? I love this story (and am so glad such a ruckus ensued when the condo snobs tore down their nest). Sharing the City with them is such a treat. Thanks

I realized that it's been almost four years since that terrible day [December 7, 2004] when the nest was torn off its twelfth floor ledge. The media frenzy that began the next day made Pale Male a household name around the world. But as time went on lots of people, even people like Donna who live in New York City, lost touch with the Pale Male story.

So here's the sad response to Donna, and to all the other folks who wonder whatever happened to Pale Male and Lola.

Dear Donna,

Were there any fledglings this year? No, not this year, nor last year, nor the two before that. Though the red-tailed pair immediately rebuilt the nest after it was removed , and sat on eggs in 2005, 2006, 2007 and just this last spring, the eggs failed to hatch each year. Bummer.

The New York City Audubon made several efforts to discover the reason for the failures by retrieving the eggs after the nesting season was over. But the results were inconclusive.

Were the failures caused by the stainless steel "cradle" attached to the ledge by the penitent building? The structure was meant to keep the nest in place, but perhaps the metal served to cool the eggs and stop embryonic development.

Or was Pale Male, now a venerable hawk of fifteen [in 2005] too old to fertilize Lola's eggs?

Or was there some other explanation?

Alas, we'll probably never know. All we know is that the brutal decision to remove the nest from its ledge in 2004 was not to be undone.

It is now unlikely that we will ever see chicks again on Fifth Avenue and 74th Street. But Pale and Lola continue to live year round in Central Park and are often seen by Central Park's birdwatchers and by tourists who know their story. For them seeing one of the Fifth Avenue Hawks is a celebrity sighting, perhaps the highpoint of their visit to New York City.

It may be that those residents of 927 Fifth Avenue involved in the decision to tear down the hawk nest are now feeling the effects of today's economic crisis. One glorious thing we know for sure. Pale Male & Lola will not be affected, not in the smallest way.