A Home for Ten Years
Destroyed in the Blink of an Eye
Mankind Hates to Share
A red-tail hawk’s nest was removed last week from a posh New York Fifth Avenue building after an engineer said it was causing the building's facade to crumble, and that debris and the occasional carcass flung out of the nest after feeding posed a risk to pedestrians.
Workers quickly removed the nest and spikes designed to keep pigeons away, which were ingeniously used by Pale Male and his current mate, Lola, to secure the nest.
Devoted bird watchers noticed the nest was missing almost immediately, and the hawks’ ouster generated a storm of protest.
"We did not fully appreciate the importance of these birds to the people of this city," Richard Cohen, president of the building's co-op board, told the Daily News.
After meeting with representatives from the National Audubon Society and the New York parks commissioner, the co-op board agreed to have an architect study the building where Pale Male - the inspiration for a book and a documentary – had been nesting for a decade.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe called Monday's meeting "a great first step" toward a resolution, adding: "We don't want to have the building unfairly vilified."
He noted building officials checked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before removing the nest, and were advised that as long as there were no chicks or eggs in the nest they could legally remove it – so they did.
Audubon officials called the meeting "a productive one" and said they hope Pale Male and Lola will return to "re-build their nest in the same location."
Ten years ago, Pale Male set up house on this building, each year adding more sticks to a nest that grew to 8 feet by 3 feet and weighed in at 200 pounds.
He has had four mates and 23 chicks, living most of the year in Central Park and returning to the nest on this building each January to mate.
Now the question remains – will Pale Male re-build his home, or move to a more hospitable neighborhood?
Pale Male took up residence in Manhattan in the early 1990s. He is the first of his kind to move to the city, nesting on an ornate ledge outside an apartment building, across the street from Woody Allen’s plush crib.
His penthouse had a spectacular park view in a building where apartments have been selling for $10-$15 million.
Every spring, Pale Male raised a new batch of baby hawks and now he has a family of over 20 kids, mostly soaring around Central Park.
He is a perfect father who builds homes for his children, catches pigeons and rodents to feed them, and defends them from predators. And that’s why Pale Male never fails to draw a crowd – or such ardent support now that he has been evicted.
His supporters read human virtues into his behavior that is for the most part instinctual—praising his unique personality, and exceptional parenting skills. One of Pale Male’s self-appointed guardians, Charles Kennedy, went as far as to say, “He is a good dad. He just is. He is the one we always wanted.”
Charming birds also have good luck when it comes to picking up girlfriends. Not one for monogamy, Pale Male is currently enjoying the company of his fourth mate, Lola.
But will she now leave him – since he’s homeless?
Red-tailed hawks are rare enough to have been protected by a treaty signed in 1918 between several nations, including the US, Canada, and Russia. A decade ago, an earlier attempt to evict him was blocked when his defenders invoked this international agreement.