A hawk after Sandy
Yesterday [Sunday 11/4] I received an entertaining and well-observed letter from a reader named Jamieson F. Russell, with the above photo attached:
Dear Ms. Winn,
Having just finished your book, Central Park in the Dark, last week - which I thoroughly enjoyed - it was rather fitting that, today, while on a walk through the Ramble I stumbled across a woman pointing to the sky. I figured that she must being pointing at something avian related, and was not simply a crazy person. As I approached her, she quietly said, "Look at the hawk." There, about 20 feet up in a tree, was a red-tailed hawk preening himself. I ended up chatting with the woman for about 20 minutes, during which time the hawk continued to preen, was harassed once by a starling (the hawk could not have cared less), and even pooped. The hawk also looked to - and I have no other way of describing it - stretch its legs. He/she would lift one leg, then pull it towards his/her body (it would disappear among the feathers), then extend the leg back again. We were both concerned, as I'm sure you and your readers are, about how the hawks fared during Sandy, so it was great to see one back in his/her routine. I've attached a few photos I took of the hawk.
Reply from Marie:
From the photo I'm reasonably certain the bird perched on the branch is a red-tailed hawk. But I'm not sure which [if any] of our local resident hawks he [or she] is. Because I wrote two books that featured Pale Male [Red-tails in Love as well as the one cited above] people believe I can easily distinguish my hawk hero and his various relatives [by blood or "marriage"] from any of the numerous itinerant hawks that show up regularly in Central Park. I can often be pretty sure that a redtail is Pale Male, especially if the bird is pale in color and is perched on the Beresford or in any of Pale Male's regular haunts. But I'm often unsure, especially if the bird is simply sitting on a branch in the Ramble, and if the light is not perfect, as in this case.