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Hawk moves into Greenpoint

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In a move with grave implications for the pigeon community, a Red-tailed hawk appears to be shopping for a new home in or around North Brooklyn’s hip McCarren Park.

“We have seen him several mornings a week for a month or so,” said Greenpoint resident and bird enthusiast Robert Petrullo. “He is bringing twigs and other nesting material up to the top of one of the light towers at the McCarren Park baseball field.”

Surrounded by grassy fields and on the opposite side of the park from an artificial turf soccer field, this would seem like an ideal home for a creature that survives on a diet of mice, pigeons and snakes.

The Red-tailed hawk (a.k.a. Buteo Jamaicensis) has long wings, a broad tail, red markings and a pale chest with a dark band. They average about 18-26 inches tall with a wingspan of 45-52 inches. The female is slightly larger than the male; like some humans, they are serially monogamous and form longstanding mating pairs. Their natural range extends from sub-arctic Canada throughout North America and into Mexico and Central America.

How can locals recognize the newcomer? “In the courtship display, a pair of Red-tailed hawks soars in wide circles at a great height,” according to the Cornell Ornithology department. “The male dives down in a steep drop, then shoots up again at nearly as steep an angle. He repeats this maneuver several times, then approaches the female from above. He extends his legs and touches or grasps her briefly. The pair may grab onto one other and may interlock their talons and spiral toward the ground.”

Our hawk or hawks have yet to make tabloid headlines like those most-famous hawk lovers Pale Male and Lola, who took up residence on a swanky Fifth Avenue co-op building. The co-op board tried unsuccessfully to have them evicted in 2004, a move that spurred documentaries, rallies, T-shirts and at least one kid’s book.

Could it happen in Greenpoint? Only if the Parks Department gets out its net — a very unlikely scenario.

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Reader Feedback

Emily Legutko from Greenpoint says:
I'm a Greenpoint resident and I saw the red-tailed hawk about two weeks ago. I was jogging around the track when I looked over to the side of the track and there saw this huge beautiful bird stepping up and down in a pile of leaves and looking around surruptitiously. It was about 10:30 on a Saturday morning. A closer look at what he was stepping on revealed that it was a pigeon that had been attacked, as suggested by the feathers that fluffed up from the hawk's feet now and then. The hawk appeared to be making sure the pigeon was dead. Then in a moment the hawk flew across the steet, clutching the carcass, and into the area of the baseball field. As he took off you could see its triangle-shaped tail, as red as a brick. There was a flock of pigeons huddling together in the field and as the hawk approached bearing the dead one, the pigeon flock rose and flew off. Do you know which lamp post the hawk has its nest in? I'd love to know! You can reply to ettrickforest@yahoo.com.

Thanks,

Emily Legutko
Dec. 9, 2007, 2:25 pm
tim from bushwick says:
i like the idea that these amazing birds are appering in our neighborhoods. that give bird lovers something to do and do lots of bird watching and studing these amazing bird and keep them from harms way not letting anyone take their nesting sight away. we need to stick together and protect this birds like palemale and lola in
Nov. 11, 2008, 8:09 pm
Angel from Willy Burg. Berry st N 5/6th says:
I was just cleaning some bird seeds off of the floor after feeding the pigeons on the fire escape when I suddenly heard a huge wooshing sound and saw the pigeons all fly off with maybe the exception of one. I think that the unlucky one was caught in the grip of what I saw with my very own eyes. A very massive and regal adult Hawk had descended on the masses of pigeons feeding and had captured one in its talons and flew off with it. It looked up at me just before taking off with it. Incredible! Lovely sight!
Jan. 3, 2011, 11:45 am
jeanette Nixon from Greenpoint says:
I just looked up while talking to a friend in NC and on my fire-escape there was this adult male red-tailed hawk perched on top railing, not more than 36 inches away though the window (where is a camera when you need it). Just Awesome. I had just cleaned up the fire-escape that had some pots that the pigeons took over after they found me quietly feeding during the snow storms cardinals, chickadees, doves . The hawk just stood there on the rail for nearly three minutes, it looked like he was eyeing up the pigeons on the window sill a few feet away. Two years ago a smaller hawk landed on this fire escape and was flapping what i though was a broken or injured wing. Silly me, I thought he hurt himself landing when he was really just killing his lunch. I thought that was awesome but today re-visit was even more spectacular. Being near both McCarren and Mc Groliski park is turning out to be a bird lovers dream.
Names for our birds anyone? Horus and Amenti or Hermes and Indra? Or some combination there of...
Jan. 21, 2011, 3:25 pm

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