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Van Cortlandt Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two Hawks Head Home

photo by Daniel Avila

When Bronx resident Sue Burgos found a large injured bird in her apartment building’s courtyard last December, she wanted to help. She had no idea that helping would turn out to be such a rewarding experience.

Ms. Burgos escorted the bird—a red shouldered hawk—to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, where it joined a sickly red tailed hawk that had been dropped off by two NYPD officers. Bobby Horvath, bird rehabilitator and director of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation in Massapequa, Long Island, soon assumed care of both birds, tube-feeding them and nursing them back to health.

"The red shouldered hawk was found to have severe head trauma from some sort of collision," Horvath explained. "She received daily steroid injections to reduce the swelling and was force fed for about a week until she finally ate on her own. It’s always a happy day when they start eating again."

"Red shouldered hawks are a rare sight for these parts," explained Urban Park Ranger Yvonne McDermott, who worked closely with Mr. Horvath on the recovery and release. "They only fly by along their migration route."

Red tailed hawks, on the other hand, are quite common in many of New York City’s parks, especially Van Cortlandt Park, with its 500-plus acres of forest. This one, when found in downtown Manhattan, was sickly and emaciated.

January 6 was a happy day for both these birds, and an especially happy day for Ms. Burgos. She and her husband joined Horvath, McDermott, and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe at the Van Cortlandt Park Nature Center to release both birds—now healthy and eager to get back to the wild.

"As our cities and suburbs continue to build up, our City’s parks become more attractive as homes for these birds," said Commissioner Benepe before releasing the red tailed hawk.

Releasing the red shouldered hawk into the park, on the other hand, is the best way to get her re-oriented before finding her way back home.



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