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Hawk Fest

The saga of the red-tailed hawk Pale Male and his family is well-known to most New Yorkers and birders. Red-tailed hawks are seen in urban areas and NYC, however, Pale Male (named by birdwatcher and author Marie Winn) was the first known to nest on a building in the city. In 1993, Pale Male set up home at 927 Fifth Ave (at 74th Street). In true obsessive New York style, birders set up camp at the boat pond in Central Park for years and documented the life of Pale Male, his mate Lola, and their offspring with telescopes, cameras, and video equipment. A book was written, and a nature documentary was made in 2003. In 2004, the story became international news when the coop building residents decided to remove the nest and the anti-pigeon spikes used to support it. International outcry resulted in reestablishment of a nest support (read the whole story here). Recently, Washington Square Park in the Village has acquired its own red-tailed resident. I saw him in action a few weeks ago. He has been the subject of recent controversy.

Yesterday morning, while in my living room, I heard louder than usual activity on my bedroom air conditioner (birds cavorting on air conditioners in the city is common). When I went in to investigate, I was stunned to see this huge hawk. I grabbed my camera, and at 8:28 AM, I was able to get this photo (from just inches away) of the hawk finishing his pigeon breakfast, with Washington Square Park as backdrop…

35 Responses to Hawk Fest

  1. Great shot! Did he offer you any breakfast?


  2. Fantastic!! You can definitely sell that shot to somebody – it’s perfect!

  3. Wow! That’s a fabulous shot!

    Wildlife photographers usually have to spend days and weeks waiting for a shot like that! So this is true serendipity.

    I’m sure that’d be a marketable photo… especially in the NYC area.

    Maybe the hawks will build a nest there next!

  4. He’s looking straight at you …

  5. Thanks – I knew it was a photo op when I saw him. I was lucky – I had no time to check camera settings, composition etc. I tried positioning for a second photo and he flew away.

  6. Wow! I’m in awe! And I hope to see him sometime very soon, since I live right near the park too. (But I don’t have an external AC, so I don’t guess he’ll come to my apt for a meal!)

    I’m so glad there are hawks to control the pigeon population. I wish there were more.

  7. Oh my! I’m lost in words… people have said all I need to say for me. It’s a great picture and you are really lucky and swift, Brian!

  8. Fredrik Ekblad says:

    Talk about beeing a the right place at the right time.
    Looking at your pictures makes me want to go to there right now.

  9. Yikes! Great capture!
    I bet you can sell this photo to the Post for a pretty penny…

  10. Brian,
    Big Kudos! This gets my nomination for a City Daily Photobloggers capture of the year award! The fact that you had no time speaks to your skill with your camera, and I loved all the background info and links. A wonderful post. Thanks so much. I hope you get wide circulation of this image. . .it is stunningly gorgeous,

  11. Yes, a wonderful shot there – you’re very lucky! (not to mention very skilled!)

  12. Mesmo ali?
    Na tua janela?

    Também tenho uma relação estranha com pássaros.
    Visitam-me, barafustam e até chegam a entrar no Sótão e para passarem a noite protegidos.
    Mas não partilharam presas assim, numa tão estranha intimidade..

    É Nova Iorque, certo!?
    Lá chegarei..!

    Gosto da tua perspectiva da Cidade que nunca dorme.

    Bem Haja,
    Vira Vento.

  13. Wow! Now I see why Jenny just told me to come see this. Icarus had better keep well out of that guy’s way. Great capture for you though, from the comfort of your own home! Brilliant!

  14. Wow!! What a great shot!!!

  15. That’s fantastic, and a great great capture.

    You should take a look at palemale.com, Lincoln gets close with a huge telescope for a lens. You got very lucky.

  16. Oh my! that’s a absolutelly great captured!!! Congratulations for the unexpected visit of the hawk!

  17. I have been to palemale.com – those photos are awesome. I just got lucky to get inches away – a rare privelege.

  18. Great photo and fantastic addition to the neighborhood. I’ve added a link to your posting on my blog:



  19. Chris & Deb says:

    Absolutely without question the best BEST wildlife shot I’ve seen on the DP circuit.
    Hope you can market this one!

  20. Great shot!

  21. Pretty amazing shot, man. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Hey there…a friend of mine sent me a link to your site. I’ve got a bird bloggy of my own http://yojimbot.blogspot.com
    Anyway, definintely looks like a juvenile red-tailed hawk. I recently finished a urban wildlife documentary on the subject. Email me if you’d like a dvd.


  23. Outstanding picture!

  24. An Honest Man says:

    Superb shot. Right time, right place, right photographer.

  25. I think he’s planning to have you for lunch.
    Beautiful bird and beautiful photo.

  26. Excellent shot Brian. I have been photographing a red-tail for the past 3 years here in Litchfield, CT. Nothing as amazing as your photo but click here to see a few photos.

  27. Fantastic, Brian! Not sure that I am not also as impressed by the fact that your bedroom window looks over Washington Square park!

    I hope you are voting for “View from my bedroom” for the April DP theme!

  28. It’s one thing to go out looking for a great shot. It’s another when a great shot comes to YOU! This can only mean that you are acquiring god-like powers. I hope you’ll use your new abilities for the benefit of all mankind!

  29. Abraham Lincoln says:

    Very nice picture.

  30. Great shot, I saw him a few weeks ago in Central Park and got this photo. I guess he was scoping out his next meal.

  31. that’s an amazing photo. i used to have a red tail who’d stop at my fire escape in washington heights for the pigeons. i was afraid that when i moved to chelsea i might never see one up close again, but i guess they’re everywhere now.

  32. I also live near the park and saw this hawk on the fire escape next to my building for about 3 hours the other day but his back was towards me the entire time. It was fun watching all the birds fly near it and then scurry away. Congrats on such a great shot. What shall we name him?

  33. allison :) says:

    love this picture and your other photos…im planning a trip there and am so happy to have found this website to learn about the hidden jems in the city thank you !!!

  34. Hawkward!

  35. Pingback: Close Encounter of the New York Kind | New York Daily Photo

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