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Dun-dun-dun!
May 12, 2011 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Drama on the top floor. A pair of redtailed hawks nested on the window of the NYU’s Bobst Library, outside the office of President John Sexton. (Previously.) The New York Times set up a hawk cam to observe the hatching process. Instead they’ve got a soap opera on their hands, with miraculous births, life and death drama, bungling bureaucracies, and a comments section on the warpath, with some New Yorkers demanding the Governor get involved to mount a rescue mission of the injured mother hawk. As of 12:49 EST, hawk catchers were standing by on the 12th floor to determine whether to attempt to remove and rehabilitate the hawk at the Bronx Zoo (previously), a course which could mean the death of her chick. (Consolidated post with most updates is here, if you want to catch up.)

Hawks on Twitter. Q&A on red tails. Feeding time video.
posted by Diablevert (31 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poor hawks.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2011


Ah, the poor things.

On the way to work this morning, waiting in a long line of cars at a stop light, I saw a red-shouldered hawk zoom out of the long grass on the median strip, fly very low - basically at car-height - across the road and swoop up onto a light pole. A huge percentage of raptors are killed by vehicles ever year, and that's if they're lucky to make it to their first birthday: it's estimated that 50-70% of raptors don't live past their first year.
posted by rtha at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2011


Why don't they set up a webcam in the alley down below and then maybe New Yorkers will demand the Governor get involved to mount a rescue mission of thousands of homeless people and the working poor. But I guess they don't have feathers. (That we know of.)
posted by incessant at 11:11 AM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


There goes the government meddling in the private lives of others without respecting family values. These hawks don't even have insurance and now the taxpayer is going to have to pick up the bill. In fact, how did these hawks get into the country?
posted by SeanOfTheHillPeople at 11:12 AM on May 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


From the Bungling link: That was NYU's first mistake but they didn't know they'd be hearing from clueless bureaucrats who have never watched a hawk's nest, care more about not looking bad as per a decision, or not offending important personages than they do about the animals they are paid to protect...

Unless this bird is on the endangered species list I'm not in favor of meddling (but then no one is asking me). It may be tragic but birds hit windshield and we still drive. They get knocked out of the sky by windmills and we're putting those us at a record rate. People hunt them. In Iowa we just passed bill that allows you to shoot doves. It's a bird.

I'm with incessant here. Maybe webcam in a homeless shelter or in the corner bodega. Once we've solved the hard problems we can engage in the hand wringing about a bird and the fact that someone put a webcam on it makes it more special than all the rest of the red tailed hawks.

I'm not trying to deny compassion, or even the urge to help out a creature in distress, but when the University is trying to coordinate with the government, to mount a rescue mission, I submit we've lost the plot.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:15 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The couple times birds have nested in trees or shrubs within easy view of a window, it's been a heart-wrenching experience. Most of us have little sense how routine "tragedy" is in the natural world, whether the sudden or unexpected death or injury of parents or offspring. The most recent case of this involved the poor robin family who nested in the tall honeysuckle near our bathroom window last year; at first it was kind of exciting to be able to see the nest, and the eggs, without any risk of disturbing the birds. But it was a late-in-the-summer clutch and, in the end, it turned into a grim situation: none of the robin chicks lived (two fell from the nest and died) and I suspect the male adult and third chick were taken by a hawk who was hanging around the neighborhood for a couple weeks in September.

I don't think this is an uncommon story in the bird or mammal kingdom: there's a reason they're so prolific. (I avoid thinking too much about what happens to most of the many rabbits I see on the verge of the woods.)
posted by aught at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2011


While there is truth to the whole "nature red in tooth and claw" bit, these birds are pretty special. While red-tails are not an endangered species, you need only to look at people's responses to their situation to see the value of these specific birds. People are actually talking about proper garbage disposal and limiting rodentacides. They are learning about hawk behavior. They're becoming emotionally engaged. That's really important! And I always bristle at arguments along the lines of "Why help x? We should really worry about y and z!" Go and help y and z brother! Compassion isn't a finite resource!
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:54 AM on May 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


What the fuck is this crazy New York City hawk fetish? This has been on the front page of nytimes.com for a week. And the whole Pale Male thing. Get a grip, people.
posted by enn at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2011


Get a grip on what?

It's kind of amazing to me that before Pale Male showed up, no redtail had ever been recorded nesting in the city. Now his offspring (something like 26?) are out there reproducing as well. That's pretty great. New York is full of great things, and this is one of them.
posted by rtha at 12:12 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy, I can't wait to eat that monkey.
posted by d1rge at 12:26 PM on May 12, 2011


New York is full of great things, and this is one of them.

No, it isn't. This is hawks, nesting. It is an entirely unremarkable occurrence which happens every day all over the country without anyone dispatching teams of reporters to cover it. Making this into some hackneyed feel-good only-in-New-York narrative is just bullshit cooked up to sell newspapers.
posted by enn at 12:28 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"And I always bristle at arguments along the lines of "Why help x? We should really worry about y and z!" Go and help y and z brother! Compassion isn't a finite resource!"

Ditto.
posted by HopperFan at 12:31 PM on May 12, 2011


Here is a video of a hawk hunting in Fort Tryon park.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem with you helping X or Y is that's your kick. Do what you want. But when you are petitioning the government for assistance, to save a bird, while there are larger issues at hand, then I get a bit miffed. I was also careful to point out this is a local issue though, so if New Yorkers are cool with it so am I.

If the article had been about some private citizens funding and mounting a rescue mission, in conjunction with some world renowned private sector ornithologists and veterinarians, then I'd be praising their heroics. Instead, you have people that have no idea what they are dealing with, asking other people that have no training, to solve the problem on the tax payers' dime for a private institution.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:52 PM on May 12, 2011


I was "oh yeah, birds" until I saw a red-tail at close range. Since then, I've been more aware of the environment we share with birds of all kinds. You know, in a way, we all live in their world; their world is so much larger than ours.
posted by SPrintF at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2011


I'm not trying to deny compassion, or even the urge to help out a creature in distress, but when the University is trying to coordinate with the government, to mount a rescue mission, I submit we've lost the plot.

As a matter of tactics/optics, the university is in a difficult position; it dived into the project fir the feel-good PR, and now there's a situation with a dozen or so potential outcomes, only one or two of which count as good PR while the others are all bad PR. If the hawk or its baby dies, people will blame them. If they let the private rehab guy do the job and the hawk gets hurt, it'll be "why didn't you consult the agency responsible for wildlife"? They bring in the DEP and doesn't go well, and it'll be "why didn't you let the hawk rescue guy do his thing"?
posted by Diablevert at 12:58 PM on May 12, 2011


I was not under the impression that there was an "only in New York" flavor to this. There are nest cams in abundance, and papers like the San Francisco Chronicle write about SF's peregrines, the San Jose Mercury News writes about its peregrines, and the Washington Post writes about the bald eagles nesting on islands in the Potomac. It might sell papers, but it's also something people are interested in reading about, something that is happening in their city, where they could look up and see it. There have been hundreds (thousands?) of comments posted on the NYT's site about the redtails.

If you really feel like too much ink has been spilled about this, write to the Times. Bitching about it here isn't going to make them reconsider.
posted by rtha at 12:59 PM on May 12, 2011


What the fuck is this crazy New York City hawk fetish?

The hawk baby is THE CUTEST THING EVER. I defy you to watch the hawk cam when the baby is flopping around all fluffily and not become obsessed like the rest of us.
posted by leesh at 1:18 PM on May 12, 2011


As a matter of tactics/optics, the university is in a difficult position.

Yeah, these things are always odd, but it doesn't take a genius to realize that when you point a webcam at wildlife it's not always going to go well.

Woman where I work was all over the eagle cam until she watched it tear apart a cute baby bunny. She was mortified. It was an eagle with young, what did she think it was going to feed them?

I wish the hawk the best. I hope someone can fix her.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:32 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing this is the last time that any city resources go to putting a webcam on anything.

Nasty, brutish and short, at least we know that human intervention will improve the situation, as it always does.
posted by rhizome at 1:52 PM on May 12, 2011


"... miraculous births ..."
Didn't read, but I'm guessing that a stork was involved.

Most frequently misused words in American reporting: 1. miracle 2.miraculous ...
posted by fredludd at 2:03 PM on May 12, 2011


Once, in San Francisco, I saw a raptor of some sort dining on a pigeon it had just killed. Blood was flying and people were kind of freaking out. Nature is interesting and cool and sometimes more real than we like to recognize.
posted by theora55 at 2:27 PM on May 12, 2011


My guess is people just have this primal bond with raptors, kind of like they are the mirror world humans of the wild kingdom: graceful, free, but often solitary and needfully vicious - what we wish we really were and what we actually are.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:43 PM on May 12, 2011


Part of the "crazy New York City hawk fetish" is because many New Yorkers are excited to see formerly common fauna return to the area. There have been reports of coyotes in the Bronx and even Central Park supposedly. Hell, we had a gray seal turn up on the beach up in Inwood earlier this month and you would have thought Jesus showed up a couple weeks early.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:46 PM on May 12, 2011


Much better seal picture.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:47 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If by "mirror world" you mean to say that humans are typically clumsy, hopelessly intertwined and bound by obligations they frequently dont understand, and horribly needlessly vicious at times... then yes, I agree with you.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on May 12, 2011


Why don't they set up a webcam in the alley down below and then maybe New Yorkers will demand the Governor get involved to mount a rescue mission of thousands of homeless people and the working poor. But I guess they don't have feathers. (That we know of.)

Yes because it's absolutely physically impossible and morally bankrupt to care for anything other than human beings, or do more than one thing at once. Why don't you type 48 words on a "save the homeless" website instead of here?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bobst is a mammoth, institutional hunk of a building in the center of a congested, terminally theme-parky neighborhood. It feels sometimes like that part of the Village is beyond saving. A hawk is a very competent-seeming bird, so it sort of feels like a validation of the whole mess that it chose to bring its offspring into the world up there. If you'll pardon my projecting. Also, it's neat that there's this whole world going on above your head that you would never even know about.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:28 PM on May 12, 2011


Update: After observing Violet on the nest up close for a full day, the team led by the state decided that she was functioning well enough, and that the possible dangers posed by intervention - both to her and the baby - were so great, that the best course of action was not to act.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:47 PM on May 12, 2011


Hawkward.
posted by rossination at 8:32 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is much better than Angry Birds.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:14 AM on May 13, 2011


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