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Tompkins Square Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, February 4, 2003

RED-TAILED HAWKS RECEIVE STARTER HOME OF STICKS


Imagine that the Parks Department built you a house in the center of one of Manhattan's trendiest neighborhoods. Now imagine that the house was built specifically for your needs, and that, just outside your house, all your favorite foods were free and easily procured. Now imagine that you can fly. Pretty nice life, huh? Parks and the East Village Parks Conservancy are hoping that the two Red-tailed Hawks will see it this way, and take up residence in the nest that Tom Cullen, resident falconer, built for them. The two Red-tailed Hawks have been spotted in the park for the last few years.

The nest was installed on Friday, January 31. Park patrons on their way to work stopped for a second to glance up and smile at the nest, happy to see a new home for their favorite-feathered neighbors. A cherry picker was raised several times to ensure that the nest was securely fashioned high in the treetops. The nest was specially designed by Tom Cullen to meet the needs of the hawks. Made of sticks and vines, it is also surrounded by a state-of-the-art camouflaged squirrel guard.

The installation team was made up of two foresters, Tom Ammirato and Brian Goscicki, two representatives from the East Village Parks Conservancy, Roland Legiardeloure and Carol Vinzant, and Senior Wildlife Manager of the Urban Park Rangers Tom Cullen. Deputy Chief of Operations Margaret Asaro Peeler, District Manager Elaine Crowley, and Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro also attended the event.

Parks & Recreation hopes that the hawks will use the nest as a starter home and make the necessary additions to accommodate their young in the late spring. "We are hopeful that the Red-tailed Hawks will settle and raise their young in Tompkins Square Park this spring and for many springs to come," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. The community is also hoping that the hawks will settle down in the park; not only are they the largest birds of prey in the city, they are also known for their appetite for squirrels, rats, mice and other vermin.

Red-tailed Hawks, also called Buteos, have a wingspan of four feet. These hawks typically begin to build their nests in the middle of February to prepare for the mating season that starts in mid-March. During the mating season, the males and females are known to display spectacular aerial feats, circling and soaring to great heights, and then folding their wings and plummeting from the sky. With a little luck, East Village residents will soon be able to witness these breathtaking displays of love.

Written by Hannah Gersen

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"I owned the world that hour as I rode over it…. free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them."

Charles Lindbergh

(February 4, 1902-1974)

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