888 7th Ave Baby Plight



On a visit to Heckscher Ballfield area today and found Palemale's grandchild nestled in a low tree at the SE corner of the ballfield. There were several familiar faces in a small group of people watching and peering into the tree where father and child perched amidst a chorus of protesting birds. One of the peering faces belonged to Kentaurian, by far the most trusted and warmest face which one can depend on to watch over a baby hawk being reunited with its parents.

I drew a small triangle beginning with Ken's eyes, Palemale Jr's alert face and finished the shape with a small bundle of feathers hidden amongst a thick patch of leaves continually being shaken by pestering blue jays and robins. I was geometrically comforted. Notwithstanding this, my camera caused, what I believed to be, an attraction which I’m sure the hawks could do without. So I found a spot far enough away from their tree nearer to the Carousel. There I saw Charlotte flying low over the area and following her aerial path I watched her land on her familiar ESSEX perch.

At one point I glanced at the young bright face of the park ranger who was assigned to watch over the baby and I believe I perceived a healthy fondness for his new duty.

Then I was also pleased with the relentless jays and robins buzzing about the baby and felt like their tormenting may very well serve as an effective means of ridding the poor baby hawk of its tameness from all the unnecessary and careless human fondling which it received over the last seven days.

I reluctantly decided to leave the baby in the company of its parents so as not to encourage any unnecessary distraction. I walked away feeling quite happy for the reuniting, and can now only wish that this incident can open up some eyes to the plight of so many other animals, some very close to home, which are denied their natural life.



According to several reliable calls, our precious baby was apparently returned to Manhattan and released in Central Park today (Tuesday June 19, 2007). I have not seen it and I purposely avoided the entire park this evening. I will not be visiting that area until I feel comfortable going there. I hope there will be many of the trustworthy and experienced watchers who were there for Maggie & Charlie in 2005 looking after the little soul. I hope all will be well with him/her and whatever happens in its future it will always be wild and free. If and when I see the poor thing I'll try to fix my gaze on its eyes and as much as I can I'll avoid watching the cold band which no doubt must now be affixed to its delicate foot.




Palemale’s grandchild was prepared to face a great many trials in its life--harsh weather, treacherous environment, attack by other predators, difficult food supply. It was prepared by millions of years of priming until it was shaped into the magnificent creature which we have seen over the last few weeks peering out of its cradle of that skyscraper window. The one thing those millions of years of evolution did not prepare him for was the deceitful behavior of the human species.


Be assured however that this heartbreaking episode in its life has been registered in the Universe, and so small as it seem, that mighty natural force has acknowledged this injustice and shall in a later period endow its precious possessions with a means of defense against this wicked transgression.

Every person who allowed and or condoned the dreadful predicament of this poor animal has stepped themselves back one notch in the progress of Man--a digression which we shall all share as a species. Conversely, that poor animal cowering in its prison out there in Long Island has advanced an equal notch toward attaining a superior lead in its own evolution which shall be gallantly shared amongst its own species. And that entity which our puerile minds gave the name ‘red-tailed hawk’ shall rise above us not just in speed and grace and wit but also in rational behavior.

Presently I'm sitting on a chair which is distorting the natural form of my body, legs hurt, shoes cramp, shirt collars choke, computer monitors make me squint. I feel helpless and I feel like I'm a prisoner of this manmade time, but mostly I feel lost for having detached myself from the natural world. My solace comes as my mind wander into the future--there I imagine a more just and harmonious place for all animals. I fancy I see in that far off world that those animals have ascended many notches up and that we have descended likewise as many notches. In that world I feel that if those ‘red-tailed hawks’ ever found one of us tottering helplessly on the ground they will extend a kindly arm towards us and tip us back on our feet wholeheartedly and unconditionally, but I believe they’ll be so wise as to leave us to earn our own way toward the Sun should that be our goal.

For now I will share the sin of my fellow man and suppress the ego that is so alive in me to see instant accountability.

After work today I will go to my favorite places and strain my eyes skyward and search for their graceful frames soaring above my head. Then I’ll console myself that their ability to fly and be so quietly and nobly closer to the Sun must be the result of that just and attentive Universe forever at work keeping them aloft and keeping us welded to the Earth out of reach from her precious possessions.


Sunday June 17th, 2007: I am told that Mr Horvath does not have a proper flight cage made strickly of wood at his facility. Instead, his flight cage is made of laminated chicken wire which can potentially damage our fledgling's wings.
I am not knocking him for this and will even appeal to people to help him acquire one. I hope more people donate to help equip this man with the necessary items to perform his job, as I understand first hand what it's like to support a hobby with only your salary. I would like Mr Horvath to continue to be a rehabber and perform his duties well, for this mostly thankless job. However since the welfare of voiceless animals are put in the care of rehabbers there should be more vigilance and answerability for the work they perform.


5:00PM Wed June 13, 2007:

Palemale Jr & Charlotte's baby has fledged. It ended up in the Ziegfeld plaza on 55th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues. The bird was picked up by Central Park PEP officers and handed over to the Urban Park Rangers. It is now in the hands of Bobby Horvath who is taking it to his home in Long Island.

I spoke to Bobby who described the baby as behaving normal with no sign of injuries. I'm trying to convince him to just bring the bird back and let it go in Central Park South. He has plans to keep it much longer.
It is breaking my heart that I have been traveling so many miles around the city looking at other baby hawks and here is this baby one block away from my apartment and I wasn’t able to be there to pick him up and just take him into the park and leave him to have a natural life.
I am practically begging Bobby to just take the bird right back into Central Park and release it and allow the parents to take over.

Now the poor bird will be prodded and probed and worst of all he’ll have a nasty piece of metal permanently affixed to his foot for the rest of his life.


10:00PM June 13, 2007:

Bobby stopped our conversation around 5PM Wednesday evening and promised to call me back in half hour. Perhaps there is a good reason why I cannot reach him after a half dozen calls thus far. If I'm wrong I have an apology ready, but if he’s avoiding me all I can do is what I believe is the right thing. If you believe the hawk should be released without delay please call him and call all the people who are involved in this. Please do not follow me blindly without giving it your own thought. Judging by the number of things I was wrong about in my life this one may not be any different.

I just cringe to see an innocent animal mindlessly dragged through ‘routine’ procedures unnecessarily. If this bird have some problem which these tests are going to reveal then I would be much happier to have that little animal die in the sight of its parents in Central Park so they can know what happened to him/her, rather than have the poor thing spend the rest of its life in a cage getting fed frozen rats and where it would most likely serve as a fund raiser icon until the end of its days.



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Please don't give up. We must do EVERYTHING we can -- bring attention to Horvath through the media, etc. -- to get this baby back to Jr. and Charlotte -- THAT'S THE LEAST WE CAN DO. This baby doesn't deserve to be sacrificed this way. If we let Horvath get away with this, he and his co-conspirators will think it's that much easier to continue stealing Pale Male's family and other raptor families. Don't you or your close circle of friends know any lawyers in the city? I'm sure people would be willing to donate money to pay the lawyer if we let them know. I'm so stressed over this as I look at your site 2-3 times a day -- every day -- and I'm also working two jobs! Is someone or "someones" threatening you? PLEASE, LINCOLN, LET'S NOT GIVE UP! DON'T LET HORVATH GET AWAY WITH THIS AND DO IT ANOTHER BABY -- PLEASE!! Please continue to post pictures of BABY so no one forgets. Continue to post them until he or she is back and safe with Jr. and Charlotte.

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There is always a greater power than ourselves who really does look after beloved birds, misguided children, artists, and lost dogs. Our prayers are with them in our celebration of life, and for theirsurvival even when we cannot control these situations. Please don't hurt yourself by worrying beyond your control. Life is not just a chaotic series of chances,but is imbued with the spirit ofour creator and his creations even when we have no understanding. Your photographs are truly a constant prayer for the celebrationof life,and the RTH's. Thank you for your concern,and foryour records of their lives.

Larry W.

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My concern is that everyone, including Mr. Horvath, seems to think that that fledgling is perfectly healthy. If the bird were ill or damaged, I certainly agree that its staying with him would be appropriate and would thank him for his efforts. But, given that the bird is healthy, I am wondering why it has not promptly been returned to a safe place where its parents can find it and care for it, so that it can develop a normal life and the parents' distress will be relieved? Am I missing something in my understanding of this situation? Are there no tall roof tops or trees in that area where the bird could be placed? From the street map, the park with its trees seems within easy reach of the nest site and the parents, so the parents would seem to be able to find him, and I understand that various hawk people have volunteered to monitor this return. What we seem to have instead is that Mr. Horvath is keeping the fledgling captive for no apparent reason, and contrary to what I understand to be good practices in such a situation. Certainly we have all heard innumerable times that well-meaning members of the public should not remove healthy young wild animals from their parents. Additionally, besides the Pennsylvania practice, I have been watching the San Jose, California city hall peregrines fledge in a very similar urban situation, monitored by the University of California Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group, and there was never the remotest suggestion, quite the contrary, that if a fledgling landed on the ground that it would be taken away by a rehabber. The plan was always to return such an unharmed bird immediately to a roof top. If my understanding of this situation is wrong in some way, I would appreciate knowing how, thank you, as it currently looks like this bird is headed for a long and perhaps permanent captivity, while its parents are in understandable high distress. I understand that Mr. Horvath has refused to make any commitment to anyone as to when he will return it, I do not understand his reasoning for keeping it contrary to normal practices, and time for its interaction with its parents seems to be running out.


Thanks, Karen

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For many years now I have truly appreciated all the magnificent photos of Palemale, Lola and other Redtails and all the other birds and wildlife that you put online. You are so talented. However, I must disagree with you about banding birds: I have been a raptor bander (volunteer for an organization) for 15 years as well as the band recovery data manager for almost 8 or so years. These bands are carefully placed, the birds are measured to obtain the right size and then once on, it is checked for proper roundness, edge alignment and general fit. At the same time, the birds are assessed by measurements and observations for general health. The bands, when found, give us information about territory used, migration patterns, longevity, and how these birds and or their bands are faring in our world. Birds have been injured or die because they fly into windows, buildings, cars, and trains. They are shot, poisoned, drown in water troughs or sewage ponds, and into pigeon lofts. We have found that many of our "assumptions" (what we thought we knew about some raptors) was very wrong and the new knowledge gained only spawns more questions. There is so much to be understood and we are only on the threshold. aBand recovery gives us much information. The finders (we make every attempt to contact the person who reports a band) usually ask meaningful questions and to hear their response to wildlife is thrilling, especially since most of the recoveries are of dead birds. Understand that most (greater than 50%) hawks die in their first year: predation (by owls, for example), starvation due to low prey base and poor territory, weather, inadequate hunting skills in addition to the partial list of environmental hazards already listed. But I have also spoken with a humane society who released a Redtail after checking it out and it is again in the wild and wearing its band which was placed 20 years before. This year, I was told by a finder that a Cooper's Hawk he found freshly dead in the wilderness had been shot. That Cooper's Hawk was banded in September of 1986! Without the banding, we wouldn't know how far it had traveled (banded in California and found in Northern Oregon). I offer these examples as a testament that the band does not interfer with their normal activities, but its informational value is a benefit. Again, I thank you for your wonderful photos. I tend to check them out before going to bed each night. Maybe one day I will make it to NYC and see you and Palemale in person.


Marion

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How can I write Commissioner Benepe and Director Hobel? (and who the heckare they? I am from Illinois) How can I contact Nicole Bode of the NY Daily News? Do you have e-mail or snail mail addresses, phone numbers? I am here inIllinois and I want to help. Here is one I found: zachary.dowdy@newsday.com Dowdy did an article in Newsday on the three animals "rescued" that day. Is Horvath himself contacting the media? How is he giving phone interviewsand we can't get through to him? Is this a 15-mins-of-famer? Some news links referring to Horvath: http://www.amny.com/ny-nysheep0614,0,2680665story?coll=am-entertainment-navigation http://www.gcnews.com/news/2007/0615/Community/077.html In the Newsday article Horvath says he is with "Wildlife in Need of Rescue."The contact on Long Island, is, of course, Horvath. In the first article,the one in the Daily News, it says that among those who showed up (when BabyHawk was "rescued") was..."a freelance licensed bird rehabilitator fromupstate New York." Horvath, I'll bet. From another older article aboutHorvath: It starts out "NYC Fireman Bobby Horvath, founder of "Wildlife inNeed of Rescue and Rehabilitation".. Okay. He made up his own organizationalname and called himself a rehabilitator. There is a picture of Horvath onthat web page down at the bottom, with what appears to be a bobcat (or thatis what we call them here in the midwest). I can tell first of all that hehas no clue how to hold a cat, and if it is indeed a bobcat, no way shouldhe be handling it at ALL unless he plans to keep it as an exotic pet - ofcourse, always something to consider with Horvath. There are several otherpictures of him on that page. Compare those with the pictures from the firstDaily News article and I think Horvath was Johnny-on-the-Spot right therefor the photo (to the right, in blues, shaved head, looking down atsomething in his hand), to whisk away Baby Hawk (he is a NYC fireman socertainly would have had access to the dispatch calls). I read in one article that he has a flightless 3 year old female RTH in hislittle kingdom, and I suspect he wants a companion for her. If hecontemplates his navel long enough, plays his passive-aggressive game longenough, Charlotte and Jr won't know their baby, even if it were returned,too much time will have passed, and they won't take their baby back. Whothen will teach Baby Hawk to hunt? A flightless 3 year old hawk living in a flight cage?" No. Horvath has no intention, and I think, never had anyintention, of releasing Baby Hawk to Charlotte and Jr. He plans to stalllong enough that the only two options left, are to release the juvenile hawkto starve to death from lack of hunting skills, or, for Horvath to keep itwith his collection of other exotics. Which I think has been his planprobably from the moment he heard the dispatch call in the NYC fire stationhouse that he works out of. How long will Jr and Charlotte remember their baby? How much time do wehave? Does anybody know? I am no way reassured that his man Horvath is legit or competent or ethicalfor all he is referred to as "licensed", nor am I reassured that anyone atall has control over him, since the government agencies (specifically theDEC) are blowing us all off. This Baby Hawk should have been released to itsparents at the latest, by Friday, certainly over this weekend. There is NOexcuse for Horvath to hold Baby Hawk for two weeks or more. Supposedly he iswaiting for it to learn to fly? Is THAT what the wildlife rehab policiesare? I think NOT. I personally need to make more noise and I need to know whose ear to bendand I need to know how to get to those ears. Please share at the top of this "letters" page, Lincoln, any and all linksand e-mail addresses, phone numbers, snail-mail addresses for writers orcolumnists or TV or radio contacts for the rest of us who are scatteredaround the country / world. I have contacted or tried to contact andcontinue to try to contact those you have listed. I want MORE, please? Can we find out where Horvath's home is (Massapequa or something like that)?or what station house he works out of with the NYC fire department? GO there and march around obnoxiously with signs, and get some press coverage going,specifically television (most folks don't read newspapers) and get aspotlight on Baby Hawk, and a harsh bright light on Horvath's lack ofwildlife rehab ethics. And Lincoln? If you get arrested again, I will most definitely donate towardbail money. Robin Smith Morton, Illinois

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Have you noticed how Lola is now missing her #4 "finger" feathers, counting inward from the outermost "finger". They normally have five fingers, but for a few days or so she has only four. And in one of your last photos from today(posted) i can see two new wing feathers coming in on each wing due to the backlighting. I happen to watch for these things, and try and follow the progress. Im heart broken over the grandchild's kidnapping. As always your time, experiences, and photos are sacred to me.


Kyle in PA

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First I want to thank you for your web site. I check it every day and have been doing so for years. My husband is a General Falconer and even he believes that in this case you should let nature take its course. Man does not have to step in to save the day. My heart goes out for the parents. They are more than likely terrified about the loss of their baby. I will continue to watch and see what man decides to do. But I am so saddened about the situation and know that you are also.

Thank you again for the most awesome website on the net!!

Kate,
Binghamton, NY


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You are not alone over this. I just read news that while baby hawk struggled in the 55th street courtyard one of the parents was circling over the courtyard. Why don't stupid humans just leave them alone. I have no doubt if the area had cleared of people that parent would have descended to the baby and tended to it, feeding and caring for it until it could fly out. Horvath had better get that hawk back to the parents before it is too late and he has to "keep it" in the cage. What can we do.I have been really sick to the point of actually vomiting over this. I am just so upset. Sometimes I wish I was dead.

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Dear Commissioner Benepe and Director Hobel,I am writing again to now beg you to take immediate action. I am sure you have the power to rescue the baby red-tailed hawk from the so-called rehabilitator who is now hoarding the bird. It is uninjured, and it was fledging -- beginning to fly. It does not need and cannot benefit from being kept in a cage on Long Island. This is an outrageous situation. The bird is being deprived of its right and ability to return to its own environment and ITS OWN PARENTS. Any reputable rehabilitator will tell you an uninjured baby fledgling must be left to the care of its parents. Although Park Rangers and police correctly went to the rescue of the baby, it is a grave error to keep it. I beg you to act immediately. I understand that you may not be able to return my emails or my many calls to your offices, but this is vitally important. If you are still ignorant of the true story of this bird, then see this immediately: http://www.palemale.com/
Sincerely, Romola C.

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I have also copied Nicole Bode of the Daily News on this message.


I don't know if this info below will help, but I am hoping that someone whom Mr. Horvath trusts (Bruce?) can tell him about this item from the Pennsylvania Department of the Environment falcon web page at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/falcon/ on the proper handling of new fledglings. Perhaps that will convince him to return the bird to its nesting area, and take advantage of the offers of hawk-knowledgable people to watch out for it to be sure its parents find it, which they are sure to do if it is returned (very very) promptly, so that it can be a wild hawk, as it was intended to be.


6/12/2007 :: Watch and Rescue Begins/Eyases are Treated Watch and Rescue Program: The watch and rescue program in now being conducted. Volunteers work two-hour shifts, reporting, by radio, activity at the ledge to “falcon central” that is the DEP Environmental Education Center. If a fledgling lands on the street or any other situation the would put it in harms way, the young bird is rescued, examined and placed on the roof of the 16 floor Rachel Carson State Office Building. Eventually, the fledgling will fly again, usually landing on a nearby building. Within a day or two after fledging, the young birds develop the strength and skills necessary to return to the nest ledge.


Karen

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I would like to respond to Stella M's letter because I believe she and Mr. Horvath are ommitting important factors which need to be addressed: First and foremost, you are not a hotheaded ignoramous whose mission in life is to cause others discomfort, but someone who has also spent great amounts of personal time and money photographing and caring about the well being of wildlife just as has Mr. Horvath. You do not deserve to be lied to or hung up on or ignored and should have been treated by Mr. Horvath as a colleague. Second, from all that is commonly known about replacing displaced fledglings, if Mr. Horvath told you that he intended keeping the bird longer than 2 or 3 days, than it demonstrates that he in fact intends to keep the animal. And lastly, the very fact that Stella M states at the end of her letter that she doesn't think you will post her email shows her complete ignorance of who you are, of what you have been doing for the last 16 years, and of what your purpose is.


Marilyn

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I rang up Mr. Horvath who was very rough with me over the phone and ask that he wish "the bird fans would stop calling him". I stated the hawk belongs to it's mother and the longer he keeps it the longer he'll be depending on humans. He was rude and stated that he knew what was best for the bird and would do what he thought was right and stated again "Bird fans need to stop calling" in a very rough voice. And when I was in the middle of saying something he hung up on me:(
Regards,Debbie C., New Britain CT

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Much sorrow over the situation with PaleMale's grandchild. The first rule of rehabilitation is to return an uninjured healthy creature to it's habitat and parents immediately if at all possible which is obviously the case here. As a qualified Veterinary Surgeon and rehabilitator specialising in birds of all sorts but mainly raptors I can state this with confidence. It sounds as though this man is holding the bird for his own personal benefit because there is no reason not to return it. In South Africa it is illegal to keep a healthy wild animal in captivity if it can be returned to a natural life. From what little contact I have had in the past with USA rehab people I imagine they are drawing blood and doing tests, and perhaps this could shed some light on the sterility of Lola's eggs. On the positive side, no matter how long it is kept in a cage as soon as it is released instinct will take over and it will be fine. Ringing is controversial and in the past I have had some of my birds rung because it is very interesting to follow up if the bird is ever found or in trouble again. I have a one winged stork in the sanctuary that was rung in Eastern Europe 15 years ago, and I once had a bird known as a Dikkop that was just exhausted that had been rung 22 years previously, and I released it once it was strong enough. It is one way to monitor movement and survival and longevity. However I do not ring anymore because I once had to remove a ring from a swift because it was too tight. Have faith that good will prevail and that the Creator is in control, we can but do our best. You have done a million times more than your share and have my utmost admiration and respect. regards Julia

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I was unable to reach Mr.Horvath. I left a message on one number, the other mailbox was full. I did however speak to a gentleman in the DEC Law Enforcement office. His loud, aggressive manner immediately turned me off, but I managed to state my business.

He claims that the bird was taken because he's injured and needs rehabilitation. I explained that I didn't realize that he had been injured and that his parents are frantically searching for him. At that point there was dead silence on the other end of the phone.

I ended the conversation by saying that many concerned citizens in New York City and elsewhere are aware that too many animals in "protective custody" somehow end up dead.

I told him we will be monitoring the case very carefully. I could sense that he was eager to hang up the phone.

Lincoln, please keep us posted.

Best, Joan

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I am not a bird fanatic and was actually completely oblivious to their existence until Wednesday morning when I saw the baby bird in the corner not being able to fly out. I was the one that called Daily News, flagged the first police officer that arrived there and tried to call rescue services. I thought we did a good deed until I started reading the updates from the last two days and realized what is going on. Since I work on 55th and 6th Avenue, I went at 1pm today (June 15th) to 7th Avenue and 56th Street to check for myself. I looked up and my heart pained as I could sure see the two birds, I guess the parents of the baby hawk, circling low in what appears to be indeed a frantic way. I don't know what to do and I feel horrible that I might have caused more harm then good and maybe there was something else that I could have done that morning to help this bird find its way to its nest rather to a rescue center in LI. I would like to know legally who has a right over the bird and can decide when it should be realised. Regards, Dora

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I just spoke Mr. Horvath and he stated that he has not decided when he will release the Baby Hawk..... Did not want to have any conversation about what he has done, He also said when the Baby is ready ...... the pressure is getting to him ... he did not sound very happy.

Regards, Lorraine Media Pa.

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From the websites of Long Island Birding and Long Island Volunteers forWildlife: " If the bird is a fledgling (has left the nest, but still dependent onparents), understand that it is normal for young birds to leave their nestbefore they can fly. They will often spend time near the nest on the groundor in nearby bushes or trees. This is normal. So, if you find a fledglingdon’t be in too much of a hurry to rescue it. Use common sense. If it isin an unsafe place, move the bird to a safer location and then watch it froma distance. After awhile, if you are certain it has been abandoned ((andthe red tailed hawk fledgling that the rehabber is currently holding is notabandoned)), then place the bird in a box that it can’t get out of. Do notpet or fondle it! You do NOT want the bird to become accustomed to you asthat will inhibit its future survival. " "....male red-tailed hawk came to our center in 1991. He was confiscated bythe DEC from a citizen who had him tied by the leg as a pet. He was housedat VW for the duration of the trial, after which the DEC requested he remainat our center. He could not be released to the wild because, during acrucial period in his development, he became imprinted on humans. Thoughtechnically in retirement, he still goes out on education programs becausehe enjoys it. Red-Tailed Hawks are numerous all across New York State,including Long Island and the city boroughs." It seems that Bobby the Rehabber needs to read his own organization'sliterature. I am not impressed with the passionate letter in defense of him. He may loveanimals and that is nice, but that does not make him an ETHICAL licensedwildlife rehabilitator.

RJS / Morton, Illinois

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You need to be aware that there are a number of "licensed" rehabbers whohave become collectors of healthy, uninjured, specialty birds and othercreatures - sort of their own petting zoos. As Mr Horvath is holding the RTH in contraindication to all wildlife rules,policies, and ethics, I suspect he is a "petting zoo" rehabber. Perhaps wecan all go to visit his zoo on Long Island, and if we make a donation, hewill let us see him teaching his creatures tricks for treats.
R. J. G., Peoria, IL

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I am sorry that the eyass was taken away from Jr. and Charlotte, but I have to believe that the rehabber who has it will indeed return it to the park area shortly. There is no reason for him to keep it if it can be placed someplace where people/dogs, etc. can't bother it while the parents care for it, assuming it is eating and acting normally with no injuries from its fledging event. Perhaps offering to help find a rooftop or other suitable location for the fledgling near Jr. and Charlotte would help them release it more quickly.

I volunteer with a raptor rehabilitation center, and we do everything we can to help the birds get back to the wild successfully, including placing them with foster parents, but obviously it is best if it can be returned soon while its parents are still looking for it. Then I would think someone would need to monitor it from a distance to make sure the parents do indeed find and care for it so it does not starve. Otherwise, it could be raised at the facility and taught to hunt there in his flight cage, before being released near the site it was found, as our facility tries to do with all birds that come in to us. Unless the site is unsuitable for habitat the bird is to be returned to the location it came from.

I do not have a license, I am not an expert, I am just a lowly volunteer, but I have seen numerous eyasses raised at our center successfully released after they are old enough and have learned to hunt prey. Of course being with Mom and Dad is best, but not always possible. In this case, however, I agree that the sooner it is returned to its parents, in a location where the public cannot harass it, the better.

I do so enjoy your site. Please try to be calm. Not everyone is evil...


Sally S., Prospect, KY

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His website clearly states the following, but he did not do that. I wonder if he moved it to a safer location to watch it before taking it to Long Island. Do you know? They probably think we all are a bunch of nut cases, but I really don't care. I would like to know why they removed it from the Park.

If the bird is a fledgling (has left the nest, but still dependent on parents), understand that it is normal for young birds to leave their nest before they can fly. They will often spend time near the nest on the ground or in nearby bushes or trees. This is normal. So, if you find a fledgling don’t be in too much of a hurry to rescue it. Use common sense. If it is in an unsafe place, move the bird to a safer location and then watch it from a distance. After awhile, if you are certain it has been abandoned, then place the bird in a box that it can’t get out of. Do not pet or fondle it! You do NOT want the bird to become accustomed to you as that will inhibit its future survival.
B.F.

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I read Marie Winn's site explaining exactly what Horvath is doing with baby hawk - it's really making sense that the baby be kept just until it can fly on its own. It would be far worse to just return it immediately to the park. the probelem is when returned to the park in a few days how will it be fed - will Charlotte and PMJ hear it's cries, will they find the baby to feed it?

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I know how distraught you must be. Please hang in there. In the meantime, there are many people who are trying to contact the powers that be, along with the press, to put pressure on them to "do the right thing."

Attached is a letter I wrote to Nicole Bode, the writer of the Daily News articles to ask her help and continue the press on this matter. I also e-mailed Commissioner Adrian Benepe of the Parks Commission, and left messeges with Fish and Wildlife (Bobby Horvath's machine was still not taking any more messeges).

Let's hope we can make something happen and help the fledgling.

—Charmain Begin forwarded message:

From: Charmain D. Date: June 15, 2007 3:10:00 PM EDT To: nbode@nydailynews.com Subject: RETURN OF BABY HAWK

Hi Nicole—

Thanks for the follow-up article today on the fledgling hawk "Ziggy." I'm one of the long-term "hawk watchers" at Central Park, beginning with Pale Male (grandfather) and Lola, and the past several years with his parents, (Pale Male) Junior and Charlotte. I'm sure you've been made aware of this little guys lineage, but suffice it to say this baby comes from a hawk family, famous for being know as one of the first to make their home in a highrise in the middle of a metropolis. They also act as ambassadors, teaching us how to respect, cohabit and protect wildlife in this city.

The period of fledging is an exciting and anxiety-ridden time for those of us who are watching these guys, but it IS a totally natural stage that occurs with fits and starts, and can take several days to get the hang of it. In other words, A PERFECT FIRST FLIGHT IS RARELY TO BE EXPECTED. However, in city surroundings, the awkwardness and downing of a fledgling (as in this case) calls for some assistance.

Although their are many well-intentioned people in this story, I have to say we need to focus on the well-being on the baby hawk, above all. And do all that we can for the speedy return to the hawks family and surroundings.

In your recent article re: the rehabilitator Bobby Horvath, who's currently holding the fledging, he states he's worried about the hawks' recovery time, with there being only a narrow window of opportunity to successfully returning the hawk chick. This hawk has already been stabilized and found not to have any health issues which would keep it from being released. The fact that it hadn't yet taken a "full flight" has no bearing on its being healthy. The real concern should be with Mr. Odom in holding this hawk beyond what is reasonable and humane.

The professional and "right" thing to do is to release Ziggy back to Central Park South, where his parents can pick up in the training and life he deserves. Every day that passes, the issue becomes more critical.

The hawking community needs all the press it can get on this issue to push for the prompt release of this fledgling. I appreciate whatever help you can give to this end.

Keep up the story!!!

Regards— Charmain D.

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I called the cell # you provided and left him a message requesting that he return the baby hawk to central park. I explained in Florida we DO NOT hold healthy, uninjured babies!! It's too stressful and it begins the imprinting process.

Hope it helps! Thanks for keeping us posted :-)

Lori M. Tampa, FL

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I’m hoping that you know that a Mr. AL BAKER wrote an article mentioning the sheep, kestrel and the baby RTH that were all “rescued” in the 6-14-07 edition of the NY Times. Below is the e-mail address that comes up when you click on the link to mail him. Maybe some pressure from the public can do some good since all of the phone mailboxes seem to be “full”. People should direct their comments to AL BAKER since his name is on the byline of the article….dont’cha think? I hope that the baby gets returned soon. Thank you for your lovely pictures of the birds and other life in the Big Apple!

Joyce from McKenney, VA

http://www.nytimes.com/gst/emailus.html

Link to the article itself:

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Much sorrow over the situation with PaleMale's grandchild. The first rule of rehabilitation is to return an uninjured healthy creature to it's habitat and parents immediately if at all possible which is obviously the case here. As a qualified Veterinary Surgeon and rehabilitator specialising in birds of all sorts but mainly raptors I can state this with confidence. It sounds as though this man is holding the bird for his own personal benefit because there is no reason not to return it. In South Africa it is illegal to keep a healthy wild animal in captivity if it can be returned to a natural life. From what little contact I have had in the past with USA rehab people I imagine they are drawing blood and doing tests, and perhaps this could shed some light on the sterility of Lola's eggs. On the positive side, no matter how long it is kept in a cage as soon as it is released instinct will take over and it will be fine. Ringing is controversial and in the past I have had some of my birds rung because it is very interesting to follow up if the bird is ever found or in trouble again. I have a one winged stork in the sanctuary that was rung in Eastern Europe 15 years ago, and I once had a bird known as a Dikkop that was just exhausted that had been rung 22 years previously, and I released it once it was strong enough. It is one way to monitor movement and survival and longevity. However I do not ring anymore because I once had to remove a ring from a swift because it was too tight. Have faith that good will prevail and that the Creator is in control, we can but do our best. You have done a million times more than your share and have my utmost admiration and respect.

Regards, Julia

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After reading all of the various contributions to your website regarding the rescued fledgling red tailed hawk, I feel compelled to write to you in defense of Mr. Horvath. As you try to smear his excellent reputation I would like to take a moment to defend him and how this bird is being handled. Bobby Horvath is a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator with 15 years experience. I would doubt that any of these people writing into your website can claim that.

This bird has not been "kidnapped" as you are implying. The parks department found the bird and in the best interest of the hawk, based on its location and the immediate danger it was in, decided that it needed to be evaluated before being re-released. They contacted Bobby and brought the bird to him, he did not barge in and rip the bird from its parents as so many of your contributors are implying. Standard procedure for a wildlife rescue is for the animal to be evaluated, and at that point it is determined whether it can be released, or if medical care is needed. The mission of wildlife rehabilitators is to return these animals back to the wild as soon as possible, with minimal human contact.

You say you would rather have the baby die in the sight of its parents? It is okay for it to be taken by a predator, or hit by a car or bicycle, or perhaps some kids could throw rocks at it. That is OKAY in your mind. But to try to give it every chance to live, by just checking it out, evaluating it, making sure it doesn't have internal injuries, that is not okay? You would rather see it weaken and die an agonizingly slow death from internal injuries? I am sirry, but that is just beyond my comprehension.

His organization rescues hundreds of animals each year, and they are NOT paid to do it. They are all volunteers, Bobby included. The vast majority of this costly care is financed by Bobby himself, these animals are NOT used as "fundraising icons", without any regard to their well being. A non releasable animal is only kept in captivity if it is determined that it will do well, with minimum stress. Only then is the animal determined to be a good candidate for captivity. The goal is to release as many animals as possible back into their natural habitat.

I do not know of anyone who is as passionate and respectful of wildlife as Bobby is, and I know many people who are involved with wildlife and conservation. Bobby devotes his life to these animals, at the expense of his personal time and his finances and I am highly offended that you would try to smear his reputation and imply that he is some sort of incompetent who doesn't know what he is doing. I find it shameful that you have encouraged people to call and harass him at home and on his cell phone. Shame on every single person who has called him day and night, harassing and threatening him. I would bet that not one of them has 15 years experience saving wildlife and that not one of them can say they have saved hundreds of animals in that time. Not only does he save wildlife, he educates people about animals. Bobby conducts programs at schools and for organizations in order to educate people and provide a better understanding of the wildlife that we share this world with. This is an invaluable service. Many of these children would otherwise never know anything about animals, but thanks to Bobby's programs, they now have a respect and an interest they may never have had. To have posted his phone numbers and started this slanderous campaign is wrong.

I can guarantee you that the fledgling red tailed hawk will be released at the proper time, when it is in the best interests of the BIRD to be released, not due to public pressure. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could have been yesterday for all you know, but it will NOT be because of nasty harassing phone calls. It will be when the experts determine that the bird is okay to be set free.

I doubt you will post this email, but as Bobby's friend, and as someone who believes in what he does and supports his organization fully, I felt compelled to defend him against this onslaught of harassment from misguided people. He does not deserve this. His mission, his goal in life is and has always been to save wildlife, by every means possible. To accuse him of anything different is unacceptable. Shame on you.

Stella M.

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Hi Lincoln, What are your thoughts about this guy? Check out his site
Rick

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I hope you are well. I was able to leave a message on Bobby the "Rehabber"'s phone this morning, but note that his mailbox is full now for all people trying. I read the letter from Jules who indicated that Bobby's brochure lists: 516-293-0587 as his number, and since I really want "talk" to him, I tried that number, and it picked up on the answering message saying "If you want to leave a message about rehab ... and I left him another "nice" message, urging him to do the right thing and return the baby hawk. I will call the Fish & Wildlife, but the biggest help would be press coverage - somebody that emailed contacted the reporter that wrote the initial story, so perhaps publish contact info for the reporter, so that we can overwhelm them with our concern - creating bigger urgency, sensationalism??? Thanks for letting us all know and coordinating efforts for attempted rescue.

Take care, Mimie

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I tried calling the rehabber, but he doesn't answer the phone and his mail box is full. Do you have an email address for him? Maybe he will succumb to the pressure (of all the phone calls) and release the baby back to its parents. If the baby is NOT sick or injured, it should be a crime for him to keep it!!!!!!!!!!

Lori Moreda Tampa, FL

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Hi Lincoln, Just made contact with Bobby using this number 516 293 0587 as advised by your postings. He said other people will determine the out come. I advised him that the baby NEEDS TO BE WITH ITS PARENTS WHEN FLEDGING . He sounded elusive and not sincere so lets keep at him.

Rick

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Hi Lincoln, I made a call to both entities in regard to the baby red tail, the mailbox is full at Bobby's, DEC left message to release the bird to its parents. As you know and my experience( when in high school I saved a baby owl from two guys that took it out of its nest) Its chances of a normal life is diminishing daily. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING, ITS NO BIG DEAL TO FLEG AND NOT BE SUCCESSFUL FIRST TIME OUT. Gee what a bunch of amateurs. Let me know how to help further and please up date your sight with more communication.

Regards, Rick

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The rehabber's voice mail box is full so I cannot leave a message there. I called the DEC and they referred me to Fish and Wildlife. 718-482-4922. Their mailbox is also full. I hope that means that those who care are raising a ruckus. I will keep trying all numbers.

Please keep posting updates on the fledgling. I am so upset that they will not give him back!

Robin S. Morton IL

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Hi! I called Bobby Horvath and his mail box was 'full' and would not take any more messages. Called DEC and they said there was nothing they could do but gave me Fish and Game number 718-482-4922. Their mail box was also full and would not take any more messages.

My heart goes out to Pale Male, Jr. and Charlotte!! I so want them to have their baby back. Please post the info daily so we will know if they get him back. Will say lots of prayers!!

Mary Lou San Jose, CA

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Hey Lincoln. I contacted the reporter that wrote the front page article in today's NY Daily News regarding the fledgling hawk found in Midtown yesterday and told her that he is believed to be related to Pale Male and that his parents are known as Pale Male Junior and Charlotte by the NYC birding community. I also told her that the fledgling needs to be released ASAP into the southwest section of Central Park so that his parents can continue to raise him and teach him to hunt for himself. She was VERY interested in the information so perhaps she will write something additional and the public can sway the Urban Park Rangers to release him now. Charlotte was sitting on the nest this morning. I'm sure she was scanning below with her keen eyes, trying to find her baby.

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First of all, thank you for all the amazing photos you are still taking for us all to enjoy. i am very grateful because your pictures bring a calm and keep me grounded. It’s been a difficult year with a lot of life’s curves being thrown at me and our friends are real role models for me. You have to just keep going on and doing the best you can. They are very good examples of that (and so are you). I am really enjoying seeing how well the babies are doing. I will call the numbers you posted and "demand" that they let charlottes little chick go. Let’s hope it works. Hang in there Lincoln. and, as always, thanks for the great photos. Laura B.

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Thanks for the update on the young Red-tailed Hawk from the south end of the park. Unless this guy is nuts he has to release the hawk back into the park immediately. I tried calling him just now (Thurs. 11:15am) and his voice mailbox is full. This is totally against what I would normally do but he needed to hear something about RTs and fledglings. Glad to hear you got to speak to him before his mailbox got flooded.

See you around. Ben

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What a tragedy. I left a message. I really wanted to lay into him but I just told him he should be ashamed of himself. It makes me so sad.

Marti

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Dear Commissioner Benepe and Director Hobel, Although I was pleased that the NYC police and park rangers responded to the stranded baby red-tailed hawk, I am disappointed and surprised that they did not receive the advice usually offered by wildlife rehabilitators, which is to return it to its home, and/or leave it where it is. A baby fledgling is always better off left to its parent’s attentions. Haven't you ever seen the film about Palemale? One of the first fledglings landed on Fifth Ave, and after being rescued by a devoted follower, a wildlife rehabilitator advised that it be placed on a balcony -- and that advice was followed. You appear to have made a grave error, in whisking this fledgling off to Long Island. Please return the baby to its natural environment immediately. As you know, Mr. Lincoln Karim is the best person to advise on where and how to place the baby somewhere close to its parents where it will be found and tended to by its own parents. And, his close and continued relationships with many other experts in this field should also be consulted immediately. There is not time to waste. Please, please act immediately.

Thank you. Romola C.

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I am so sad to hear about Pale Male Jrs. and Charlotte's baby...I had a bad feeling about this right from the start when I saw where they had built their nest...In a perfect world I had hoped that some caring person would find the baby and bring it to you...I will phone the person on Long Island as soon as I have finished this message. I made calls to the people you listed about Pale Male and Lola's nest but each time I got an answering service and I could not even leave messages as they were all full up....so maybe it was all Pale Male's friends. In our area people in big MacMansions are complaining about the deer eating their expensive landscaping plants and trees so sharp shooters have been hired to come out at night and kill as many deer as possible...never mind that the does have fawns now so when the Mom's are killed the babies will die a slow death of starvation. They hope to kill at least 50 every night for maybe 2 weeks. My heart aches....just as it did when recently 27,000 baby seals were clubbed to death and some skinned alive. .. On a happier note we found a Baltimore Orioles nest in the Park just now...we have heard the birds singing but this is the first time we saw a nest...a perfectly woven masterpiece!!! It is quite low down so we hope no-one else finds it!! Your photos of the baby hawks around NYC are magnificent...It is wonderful to see them getting ready to fledge with their huge wings...every feather perfectly formed. I will pray that Pale Male's offspring will be returned to the Park but if not we must be glad he did not end up under a car. Sometimes it is hard to get so attached to birds and animals, I must admit I often prefer them to the human race. Take care of yourself Lincoln,

Sincerely, Norma H. Pennsylvania

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Lincoln what is Bobby Horvath's email address? Rehab for this fledge is ridiculous. It was ready to fledge, which it did normally. It just landed in a bad place. Survival of Red-tail young trained by their parents is much higher than those that have not had parental training.

Do you happen to know the amount of time in which an eyass can go missing, then reappear, and the parents will still accept it back for care?

Donna

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I'm sorry I was not home when you called I hope you got my return vmail, I'm sure you were actively using the phone to help the 888 fledgling. When you want authorities to act this quickly it never seems to happen, except when you least expect it. It is really sad news that the 888 fledgling is totally out of his territory, but I'm glad its doing well for now. I hope you were able to make progress with Bobby and that he returns the fledgling back to CP without delay so the parents can locate it and start raising it properly.

Please keep me posted.

Best to you and your efforts!! Jeff

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Who is Bobby, and why was he handed over a normal baby hawk? Why did the Central Park people get involved - the only thing they should have done was to place the in a safe area of the park. I thought red tailed hawks were protected by the government from interference. What can be done to bring that baby to freedom safely? Nothing can be done about the poking and prodding and banding. I hate that too!!! Why do people always think they know everything and interfere with nature??? Please post contact information so those of us concerned can lobby for release of Pale Male Jr and Charlottes baby - I bet they are freaking out wondering what happened to their baby, because typically they would be watching over and making sure the baby had food. If Bobby professes to be an animal lover, he would surely understand that it is a crime/sin to hold that healthy baby for his own selfish reasons. Just had to sound off. My prayers are with the baby hawk, probably so scared and all alone - away from his parents.

Take care, Mimie

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That's horrible!!!! I just saw him last month doing a presentation at the Queens County Bird Watchers Club. His number at WINORR is 516-293-0587 (from his brochure). If you need us all to tap into our inner blue jays and harass him into dropping his latest catch, just let us know on your site.

Jules

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Oh Lincoln! I wish I had not even read about it!!! What are those poor parents doing--they are looking and calling for their baby--and it needs to be trained by its parents. Why are human beings so stupid?? I am heart sick for you.

Love Betty Jo

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I was also looking for the little and got word that it had been taken to a rescue center....do you have the number of bobby Horvath as I cannot locate him in long island city...I know he rehabilitate animals from the park .....He needs to be called again and again to return the bird to its parents...if you can I would like the number....

Veronica

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I emailed Mr. Benepe, Marie, and Bruce Yolton about the young hawk Horvath took. I hope they will do something. This is very sad and outrageous,

Karen

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That is ridiculous. If the fledgling is not hurt and does not need rehabilitation he should be returned back to the wild. However, I am glad that Bobby is a wildlife rehabilitator and not some stranger that wants to keep him as a pet. At least he knows what he is doing with regard to caring for the bird.

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Dear Lincoln, First of all, thank you for your magnificent photos of Pale Male, Lola, their extended families and everything else you share with us. I have spent hours on your site. I heard about the fallen young RTH tonight on the news and assumed it was PM Jr’s baby because of the location. I immediately checked your website to see how to contact you and saw your post about the incident. Will it help any if we e-mail someone or somewhere to get the bird released back into the Park w/o any bands, and to so like tomorrow? I will write and will have my friends send mail, too. Advise me if you want to begin an immediate campaign, or put the info on your home page. I'm sick about this and I only know these birds vicariously through you...you must be beyond sick! :o( Thank you again for all your wonderful photographs. I hope to meet you someday in the park! If I can help, I will.

Alice W.



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I finally just reached Horvath by telephone [June 18, 2007--LK] after trying several times daily for the past (nearly a) week. I was gentle and tremulous and sympathetic in my tone and words. No zingers,no accusations, no harrassment, no threats. Gentle, sympathetic. I said I had read the horrible news in today's media reports, that the babyhawk had been injured.He said it was injured, but said he was busy with animal care. I remarked in a concerned voice that the media reports from last week saidthat the hawk was healthy and uninjured and, making short flights in theflight cage and I asked how the injury happened? He said he was busy with animal care. I asked if a vet had seen him and what the vet said?He stumbled verbally and then muttered, yes, but he was busy with animalcare. I thanked him gently and warmly for his time. I used my late mother's name as my own is distinctive. I wish we could press for a vet to see the bird and report back, but, sick as it sounds, I fear if he has not yet injured the baby hawk, if we press for a vet exam, he would go right ahead and injure the baby.

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My name is Lisa and I am a friend of Bobby Horvath. I just wanted you to know how wrong you really are about him. He does what he does for the love of the animals and no other reason. The decision to release the birds is not up to him, he is a dedicated and responsible animal rehabilitator with the best interest of all animals at heart.Your call to put pressure on him does nothing but waste your time that might be better spent doing something positive for all animals. Believe me when I tell you that keeping these birds as pets is the furthest thing from his mind. He not only is raising and rehabilitating many animals, he is actively instructing many people on wildlife protection and preservation, all voluntarily, while working as a NYC fireman. He recently used his own vacation time to handle a situation that a kid got himself into with 10 animals that nobody else would take. He didn't go on a vacation, he sat at home, managing a complete family of animals that no one in his right mind would do, and for no pay besides. So please back off and when the time comes for the release of the birds, he just might invite you to watch.


Lisa

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I am with you on this one, Ziggy should have been put back in the park and not sent to rehab...as there was no apparent reason for such a decision except ignorance. Your observations of the early, learning days are worth more than a thousand "expert" opinions.

In all honesty it wasn't Bobby's doing that he was given the hawk . His unwillingness to return the hawk to Central Park is very troubling. Keep up the good work., we love you! Cordially, Diane

PS I was happy to see that Donna Browne is taking up the cause of the hawk cradle.

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I've been looking for research or reports on fledgling Red-tailed Hawks that were removed from their territory and reunited with the adults. Not much is out there. The link below is from an article on Sunday about ayoung Red-tailed Hawk that was separated from its parents for 3 days. It isn't clear from the 2 quotes below that the parents accepted the young Red-tailedHawk but maybe my reading comprehension is less than adequate for the task: Quote 1 relates that the sibling is speaking to therehabbed bird: "The two babies are talking back and forth," said Deb Sheaffer, the staff veterinarian for the Audubon Society of Portland who had dropped the bird off. Quote 2 shows that an adult was in the area butnothing about any interactions between the released hawk and the adult: As Sheaffer and Audubon volunteer Carol Mitchell prepared to leave, an adult red-tail glided low over the yard. The fledgling, safe behind the fence, was still calling. Columbian News 3 days sounds like a reasonable time based on the above. We are now on day 6 but there's *no* sibling tokeep Jr. and Charlotte in feeding/teaching mode. All the best.


Ben Ben's Website

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Just spoke to Rik Davis and he said he is looking atthe young Red-tailed Hawk sitting in a tree nearHeckscher Ballfields. This was at 3:05p. All the best. Ben

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Okay. You can stop worrying. The little guy was set free in the park this afternoon. NYC Gov't Parks News Release

Now he can fly. I’m sure the rehabilitator wanted to make sure he could fly first, so that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen again to him. Like it or not, we have hawks among us, in this urban jungle. They’re going to run into trouble, and sometimes, have to rely on humans to help them. I personally think the guy was doing his job, and probably did it well. Now the baby’s free, his cry will be recognized by his parents, they’ll be happy (although I hesitate to put human emotions onto animals….as much as I love them) their baby’s back, and all will be well in Central Park once again.


Nancy Lindeberg

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I just spoke to Bobby Horvath and he has stated that he no longer has the Baby Hawk and that we will never see it. I am very upset ... he wanted everyone to stop calling him, that he knew what was best for the bird... He is a creep...... Very NASTY Man .......

Your Friend, L

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I looked at your website today again - and I was reading - through tears in my eyes - your beautiful, sad comment on the Baby Hawk .... with emotion of sadness and anger about this terrible injustice. Then I grabbed the phone and dialed Bobbie's number. I did this before many times, to get endlessly his "mailbox full" message. But today - June 19th 2007, 2:30 PM- surprise! surprise! He answer my phone! First he said "I can't talk now for I'm at work". When I briefly asked WHEN he'll return the baby hawk to the Park - he said "sure I will - one day in the future". When I asked WHY he is doing this -he answer: "BECAUSE WE ARE GONNA GIVE HIM TO SOMEBODY TO HAVE IT AS A PET". XXXXXXXX - I can't write more now ... I feel like I want to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX... Why we all feel so helpless about this? Is theresomething - anything - to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. You know I love your site and your amazing photography..... thank you forkeeping it for us.
Helen, California

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Dear Lincoln, Well, Horvath released their baby today to Central Park, hopefully he knew the proper place to release him so Jr. and Charlotte can connect with him NOW to avoid any further distress on their parts. I inderstand that he thinks he's an expert in bird behavior, but if he knew anything he should know that nobody understands PaleMale, Lola, PMJ and C and their children like you do. You have been specifically watching this specific family for years now and know everything about them. I'd bet that you even understand their 'language' amongst themselves. Ergo, when you 'suggest' to him what he might possibly want to do, you would think he'd listen. Some people have massive egos and let that get in the way of doing what's right. You can read all the books in the world and get all the degrees you want, but there's nothing like hands-on experience to gain true knowledge of a specific situation. And you have that true knowledge and, methinks, Bobby Horvath didn't want to acknowledge your understanding of these magnificent birds. At least he didn''t wait the two weeks he said he'd take to decide. I guess the pressure got to him. Now I just hope you can be instrumental in getting that family back together. I'll look forward to seeing pictures of them together. If any disaster befalls them, Mr. Horvath should have to be responsible for his actions! I volunteer at the Nature Conservancy in Rye, NY, and am sure we know many of the same people. Should I ever cross paths with this person I will certainly have a few things to ask him! I always look forward to checking out your new postings almost every day. Now I will be watching with anticipation of the reunion! Thanks for everything, Linc! You are a treasure.
Alice W.



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I think the pictures [numerous shots of Bobby H. posing with the baby hawk--LK] were mainly for documentation purposes. Bobby is very proud of what he does and has done. He does do alot of rehab work and has been very sucessful. I call Bobby when I find injured animals and he always responds. I'm sure you know how hard it is protecting and helping animals in a world with selfish and inconsiderate people. I feel bad for animals and birds. We cut down trees, and take land to build houses and condos. We take over more and more land for our own needs, then we complain when bears and foxes and other wildlife come out into residential areas. It is a shame that we look at animals and birds as if they have no rights. I am amazed that the city has as much wildlife as it does. That is why I respect people who look out for wildlife. These creatures have no say and survival is becoming more difficult. While we are not perfect, Hooray for anyone who helps god's creatures.


Regards,
Bill


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I was just trying to be sure that people were not convinced that brutality was used against the poor bird or any others that are banded. We recently had the banding & now fledging of the Kodak Falcons from Rochester in which the whole banding process is witnessed by falconwatchers & children. Obviously, such a brutal way as you had described on your website was not used to determine gender of the 4 eyasses, now happy fledglings. We would not have tolerated it! If this so-called rehabber used the method you described against Jr & Charlotte's baby, I won't begin to describe what I'd like to do to him! As it is, I feel that anything over 24 hours after being sure that nothing was broken, was unconsionable! Any rehabber I know here on the West Coast, would only be sure it had a crop of food, a little anti-mite powder, and maybe an overnight observation, any longer would be if a problem was noted that was life-threatening. In this case, no such problem existed that I heard. Just wanted to clear up some misconceptions. Thank you for beautiful pictures that I start my day with, I remain, Ronnie Fitch

Dear ?,


Thanks for the information. I have spoken to experts from Cornell, NJ Raptot Trust, Dr Ward Stone, an Animal Medical Center raptor specialist in NYC, and three more licensed experts which I found on this list http://www.nycwildlife.org/rehab.html. They all informed me that a blood test is necessary for a foolproof determination of sex. It's interesting about the example you've quoted. Apart from the method used to acquire this information I am concerned about the appropriateness of what was done to the baby hawk. I'm not trying to get the rehabber in trouble here but merely attempting to have the proper thing done the next time we have a similar situation. From what you said about your method (assuming it also applies to baby RTHs), do you think it was appropriate to carry out this test by a rehabber who's job was merely to ascertain the bird's ability to be returned to the wild as soon as possible? Perhaps you'll say that removing a feather is no big deal, but considering this was a newly fledged bird where it's ability to fly was questionable, won't you think that removing a feather for purposes of sexing only should have been avoided. The purpose of my probing into this matter is to bring to light any possible improper behavior and practices and for a reasonable amount of accountability by wildlife rehabilitators. I hope you'll continue to advise and remain in touch to share any more information to achieve this goal.
Best,
Lincoln
www.palemale.com


(DNA test for Gender)

I'm sorry, you have been badly misinformed. I have cockatiels and am in touch with breeders all over the country. We routinely sex the fledglings so that a buyer gets the gender they are purchasing. All it takes is 1 feather, removed from the wing that has the root on it. Another way is a small amount of blood from a clipped talon. Neither way is more than a momentary ouch and takes no more than a week.

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Parrot person here. There are three ways to sex them - blood (and it is a VERY small amount - I have had enough taken to do multiple health exam tests PLUS sexing in one shot from one of my little 120 gram parrots), DNA through a pulled feather, and surgical sexing, which is seldom done anymore. The feather DNA he/she wouldn't have noticed being done, and the blood would have been more a case of massively pissing her off restraining her than any trauma from either the needle stick or blood loss.


The "institutional" rehabbers generally have a very dogmatic process, with no allowances made for individual creatures. In many cases, they are a pain in the you know, but also a very necessary evil, and can do a lot of good. Happily, the baby was apparently released quickly enough to be doing fine now. I wouldn't worry overly much about the sexing. My parrots are dearer to me than ay human I know, and while I wouldn't do a needle stick JUST to sex them, I DO know it isn't an overly obtrusive or dangerous experience.


Lynn


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Thank you for all your efforts to bring to light the truth regarding the XXXXXXXXX situation (and subsequent return) of the little stinker, PMJr andCharlotte's baby. Have we named her yet? Did they have to stick her to findout if she was male or female? Can¹t they just determine this by the size?If they did, you are right this was totally unnecessary! I'm so glad that the story turned out like it did, I was very worried abouteverything, most of all, what would happen to her if the parents weren'table to care for her. I'm just so glad that it had a happy result and thatshe will be OK. What a XXXXX that Bobby Horvath. Thank you for enlightening all of us that care so dearly for these hawks.I was living there in 2005 and saw Maggie and Charlie grow up in the playground, etc. But now I am in DC.I¹m glad you are feeling better and are able to keep up your website- andthank you for publishing my letter. (Go Lincoln...) My stepson just moved to NY to go to school. He lives just a block from thepark @71st and Columbus. I am so jealous! I would be at the park every daytoo. I do so love it there. Of course, he knows all about PaleMale and Lola, and all their stories about hawks in the area, your website... So,look out for a tall 22 yr old dark haired guy named Greg, he has beeninstructed by me to learn all he can by watching all the hawks. PS, he¹sfrom Oregon, so he actually has been able to get outside and see some greenstuff and wonderful mountains.Thank you thank you for all your fine beautiful photos, and for being you!!!Love ya, Carla
Maybe I will see you at the park when I visit Greg!

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Dear Lincoln,


Before I begin, although we are on opposite sides of this issue, I do have to compliment you on your fabulous photography. You are a gifted photographer and perhaps you should direct more of your energy into that direction, rather than engaging in negative public campaigns. After the smear campaign that you subjected Bobby to, I am not willing to answer any of your questions. I do appreciate that you posted my emails, but considering that even after the bird was released and reunited with its parents, you still posted nasty letters from people ( esp. the one threatening to have Bobby investigated (for what, I don't know. I find it fascinating that people who do not even know him claim he has "secrets".). But because you have allowed this slander to continue, and have kept the issue going, I will not provide you with any further information. All I can say is that this bird was determined to be a female by professional methods. Had you treated Bobby with the respect that he deserved, perhaps we would have been able to provide you with pertinent information you seek . Due to your campaign to slander, smear and harass an innocent man who did nothing more than his job, which was to save this birds life, I will not cooperate with you. Bobby is my friend and I do not allow my friends to be treated in such a manner, and as such, you deserve no more than what I have given you.


Stella


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We are so happy to see that Jr & Charlotte are with their Baby again, judging by your pics today, they look well and Baby is feeding, from Jr, thank God! Thank you so much for the continued pictures, updates, and your hard work in bringing them to us, we love our fine, feathered friends!
Chris & Eva M., New Haven, CT


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LK -I can't tell you how overjoyed I am at the news of thebaby being returned to Charlotte and Palemale,Jr.! I absolutely have tears in my eyes at this wonderfuland joyous information! Our prayers have beenanswered! Thanks for being so diligent and steadfast in yourlove and concern for the hawks and all the othercreatures in NYC! I, too, hope that this will helpopen the eyes of the world to the fact that natureindeed knows what it is doing. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures - we look atthem every day!
Lynne

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Sleep well tonight for the baby is now where it should be. May all our concerns watch over it & help keep it safe.
Debbie

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Thank you very kindly for the most recent update and photos of Jr., Charlotte, and baby. I’ve been checking the site over a dozen times a day throughout this past agonizing week of pure hell but have totally respected your need to rest and regain your strength (and the wait was well worth it!). It’s YOU, Lincoln, who know more about God’s precious wildlife in CP than -- as this last week has clearly proven -- Horvath’s two decades of rehab experience (please, give me a break!). He’s an absolute disgrace to all of those truly “reputable” folks out there who do the right thing day in and day out; and I know several rehabbers who believe Horvath likely has secrets he does not want revealed (his attitude and despicable remarks have only but reflected such suspicion and, indeed, has revealed his true colors!). It is YOU, Lincoln, who is the XXXXXXXXX of Pale Male and Lola’s family and, using simple “common sense,” have come to know more about these awesome creatures than Horvath and the other “fakes” like him who use their “supposed” reputation as a front for their deceitful acts behind the scenes. None of this would’ve happened had Horvath corroborated with you in the first place, but he obviously had other plans for baby, which had absolutely nothing to do with “rehabilitation.” Let’s take this as a lesson to assemble, organize, and share all of our resources (financial and otherwise) so that we can take immediate legal action to ensure that this never happens again, and -- particularly with Horvath’s attitude throughout this whole process -- we need to communicate with all of the agencies (including the licensing agency) to do a thorough investigation of Horvath, his home, his workplace, off-site locations, etc. to ensure that justice is executed to the fullest extent so that he realizes once and for all that “God’s in charge,” not him! I am researching every possible avenue, and have even consulted with a lawyer, to get the ball rolling. And, if by chance I am mistaken, then I’ll be the first to admit it; however, Horvath’s behavior throughout this entire ordeal reflects differently, and we’re going to find out once and for all what he’s “really” about! YOU’RE AN ANGEL, MY FRIEND, SENT BY GOD TO WATCH OVER HIS FLOCK. PEACE BE WITH YOU ALWAYS ..... WE STAND BY AND WITH YOU ALL THE WAY!!!!!

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I want you to know that I called that number you had on yourwebsite..Bobby Horvath. If it was him that I spoke to he was extremelyrude, but I gave him a piece of my mind and asked him when he was goingto return that beautiful bird to it's rightful life. He told me yes. Itwas very comforting today to log on to your site and see that he did. Ifeel so relieved and so happy. The universe didn't turn it's back onthis baby and I hope that this little one fills his role in nature witha long, Palemale like life.Enjoy your site and God bless you. Keep up the good work. You know, Itold that fellow on the phone that I got his number from your website. Itold him thanks to you people all over the world know who Palemale andLola are. He said you were only a photographer and that you didn't saveanimals. I told him quite the contrary that your site benefits Redtailseverywhere and more and more people are becoming big fans of thesemagnificent creatures. If it wasn't for you Lincoln and the Palemale.comwebsite I am not sure that baby would have been released. God bless youagain. I am looking forward to some photos of that baby if you findhim.


Peace on earth, Lisa

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I am so happy the baby is back and being fed by the parents!


Love,
Betty Norton


PS: I did speak with Mr. Horvath last week, and was surprised by his cordiality.


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It warms my heart to see little Pale male's grandson got together with his parentws, and that the city has actually given them a "guardian".


There is after all some human kindness in us all Without your input, this owuld have never happened. I phoned the authorities and the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!


Fondly, Gabriela

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As you know, Ziggy the hawk has been reunited with its parents. As of last evening, the parent hawks were observed feeding the fledgling and now this bird has every chance at having a full life. First off, I do want to clarify that this bird was NOT released due to public pressure or harassment. The hawk was kept with a surrogate mother during its convalescence. Secondly: To dispel any concerns that this bird may be habituated by any human contact it received during its short convalescence, the truth of the matter if this bird displays any tolerance of humans, it is from the poor nest site choice of its parents. This nest was located on a window ledge on a high rise building in mid town Manhattan in full view of humans for the first 7 weeks of her life. On a daily basis she looked in on human beings and as a result, there could possibly be some habituation. Many hawks and falcons born in cities will be a bit more habituated to humans based solely on their daily proximity to people. It is a fact of life for a city bird of prey. During her time in rehab she was handled VERY briefly. I observed the bird first hand as I assisted in her evaluation on her last day in captivity. The bird finally attained sufficient flight capability on Monday, June 18th. As the bird was checked out, I can assure you that Ziggy retained a natural wariness of humans (something she did not possess when she first arrived) and as I looked in her eyes, I saw a wildness that had NOT diminished during her time in captivity. That bird was ready to go and Bobby Horvath, the licensed rehabilitator charged with her care, listened to her. In less than 24 hours she was on her way! We stated all along that the bird would let us know when she was ready to go and she certainly did! Many people on your website condemned Bobby, you included. Threatening and harassing calls came in day and night. Someone suggested Bobby heard about the hawk on a scanner at the firehouse and jumped on the situation in order to get 15 minutes of fame. That is far from the truth. Bobby was on vacation during the time of the call. He was contacted by the Parks dept., not the other way around. They reached out to him because they knew that he is an expert and would do the right thing. For those of you who implied that as a NYC Firefighter, Bobby sits around all day waiting to hear about an animal call so that he can run out and play hero in order to get his fifteen minutes of fame, let me tell you, he already is a hero and he doesn’t need those 15 minutes of fame. Bobby has been featured on Animal Planet, in the NY Times, Daily News and Newsday on more than one occasion. A NYC firefighter on duty cannot just "run out" and spend his day attending to rescues. By insulting Bobby in his capacity as a firefighter, you insult all firefighters. These are men who valiantly put their lives at risk on September 11th and you insult every single one of them when you make statements like that. Bobby was there that horrible day as a first responder and for weeks afterwards. A man who dedicates his life to saving humans AND animals is naturally a hero, without having to seek it out. To imply that he does this for the glory is ludicrous. He does it because it is who he is…a man who cannot help but to save life, human and animal. People who demanded that the bird be let go immediately were thinking with their hearts and not their heads. If the bird was replaced back to where it fell, there is a good chance it would have been dead in a day. According to you and your contributors, that would have been preferable. I am sorry, but a wildlife rehabilitator’s mission in life is to SAVE wildlife. And this bird was saved. Now, it is up to nature to decide what will happen to Ziggy. Over 75% of baby birds of prey perish in their first year, so the odds are stacked against her. But thanks to Bobby Horvath, she will have a second chance at a free and wild life. I believe that instead of the condemnation he has suffered at your hands, he deserves a huge thank you, along with the Parks Department, who knew the proper procedure when dealing with a fledgling hawk in a precarious place. I am proud to be a volunteer in his organization and to call him my friend. I think he is owed an apology for the smear campaign you subjected him to. But I guess that just as there will always be sensible, rational people fighting for a cause they believe in, there will also always be the ones who are willing to blindly drink the Kool Aid. Bobby thanks the many people who supported him during this, the experts who agreed that he was doing the right thing and the bloggers who supported him on their websites. Through all the threats and all the harassment, Bobby stood firm and never wavered in his belief that he was doing was the right thing, He never doubted himself, and based on the reunion of parents and baby in Central park, he was right!!! Thanks to Bobby Horvath and the professional care that he provided for Ziggy, this story had a happy ending. Now, only nature can decide the fate of this hawk's life. Although we are opposite sides of this issue, I do thank you for publishing my previous letter and I hope you will do the same now.


Stella


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Lincoln, I love your photographs: in them, I can see the soul of these magnificent creatures. Thank you.


BTW, I had my own experience of fledgling crisis--about two weeks ago, while walking my dog, I came across a fledgling Blue Jay. Mr/Ms Jay was hopping right toward the street, so I tied my Beagle to a nearby railing, took a plastic wrapper from the lawn, had a vigorous chase, and cornered my vocal friend--he/she put my Beagle to shame. I figured with the hopping, wing flapping, etc. that (s)he may have been stunned by the first flight, so I put him/her on the lawn that had lots of thick,low bushes, and a blue spruce tree with very low branches. The next day, I walked by the tree, saw one of the adult Bluejays in the blue spruce tree, and heard Junior screaming from further in the same tree. My attitude was that Junior could take his chances, and I wasn't going to rob him of a natural life --just make sure he didn't get mashed by a SUV. After all, death from a predator would be better than a miserable life in captivity.


Peggy M.
Brooklyn, NY


PS--I don't let Penny the Beagle chase squirrels, and always give warning to the young ones.

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Greetings from sunny South Africa! Thank you so much for the joyous pictures of the child free again in the park! I believe if you had not stirred up so much interest it would have taken a lot longer, so congratulations again. The Tom Cullen articles are sad, and not unique, we have many of the same here too. Falconers claim that raptors have to be "hacked" back into the wild and taught to hunt. They do this by keeping the bird hungry, feeding it only when it is perched on the human arm, with jesses tied to its legs, and feed it only from the human hand. This keeps the bird dependent on the falconer so that it does not fly away. I have serious reservations about this method! Some of these birds manage to fly away in spite of all this and I have had a couple presented to me over the years, picked up by members of the public. It is fascinating to watch the spirit return to the eyes once the restraints are removed and the bird realises that it is not going to be forced to sit on a human to feed. All I do is leave them alone. I put their food on the ground and they feed themselves and within a matter of weeks they are fat and strong and so wild it is really difficult to catch them even in the relatively small flight cages I have. Raptors do not actually "teach" their offspring to hunt. They merely feed them until they learn to hunt by themselves. The hunting instinct is so strong that I have never seen a healthy raptor that would not feed itself. I must also just comment on the "deadly boomslang viper" Cullen encountered. Boomslang directly translated means tree snake, and although their venom is very dangerous they are probably the most timid and sweet natured of all the snakes in Africa. To get one to bite, you would have to corner it and shove your hand down its throat! As their name implies they are tree dwellers and very seldom spend any length of time on the ground. I have never heard of anyone being attacked by a boomslang ever, in fact the only time any snake ever bites is in self defence, they are far too wise to waste their precious venom on something they can't eat! Thank you for all you do, your photos are a gift that lifts my spirit every day.


Julia

Preface: I'm not making any associations to anyone with Tom Cullen, I'm merely trying to point out that not because someone has a licence and a great reputation that you should blindly and mindlessly put all trust in them.
I met Tom Cullen back in 2002 when Palemale Jr. was attempting to build his second nest on a naked I-beam on the Time Warner Center which was then under construction. I was very happy to have made a friend who had so much authority with raptors. He was a trusted Central Park employee at the time.
"I want to know where all the nesting hawks are..." he told me. Before I heard about the stuff below I watched Tom and his crew at my first visit to the Central Park 'Falconry Extravaganza' and that is where I got turned off from him--by the way they handled those innocent animals--I watched those poor falcons and hawks and owls tied up with bells on their feet--it was a bonafide circus.


Bird Expert Faces Charges In Bald Eagle's Death
Posted by admin on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 @ 06:04:00


The state has charged a bird expert who worked for the developer of a proposed billion-dollar waterfront redevelopment project with harassment in connection with the death of a bald eagle chick on Petty's Island in June.

The Department of Environmental Protection confirmed Monday that it filed a letter of violation charging Tom Cullen, a consultant from Goshen, N.Y., with harassing an endangered species. The eagle was found June 10 limping on the side of a road with a mortal wound to its backside.

Key details of the investigation are not being released, including specific allegations concerning what Cullen did to harass the eagle, because settlement negotiations are under way, DEP spokeswoman Elaine Makatura said.

The charge is considered a civil offense punishable by fines, not by jail, she said.

Cullen has rejected a proposed $20,000 settlement, Makatura said.

"At this point, it remains unknown as to how it will be resolved," she said.

The 392-acre island is at the center of a bitter redevelopment battle between the township - which envisions it as the centerpiece of a massive housing, hotel and golf complex - and environmentalists, who want it preserved.

The presence of eagles could require a protective zone that could hinder development on the island and on the Pennsauken and Camden waterfront by North Carolina-based Cherokee Investment Partners.

Cullen did not return calls.

In a statement, Cherokee spokesman Richard Ochab said "Cherokee originally hired Tom Cullen, an independent and nationally recognized expert, to observe from off-site the natural patterns and behaviors of the birds and other wildlife of Petty's Island. Cherokee was not aware of Cullen's decision to access Petty's Island, nor were we aware of his monitoring activities on the island."

The company terminated its contract with Cullen after being made aware that he went on the island, Ochab said.

The island, the fourth largest in the Delaware River, is owned by CITGO Petroleum Products, which has seen its efforts to turn it into a preserve rebuffed by the state and federal governments.

In April, state biologists placed a three-week-old chick from Cumberland County into a nest a pair of eagles had established on Petty's Island, hoping the eagles would raise it as their own.

The Petty's Island eagles had been unable to produce a viable egg of their own.

The chick was nearly its full size when it was found on the road near its nest, a festering puncture wound on its backside. It died en route to a bird rescue center.

Days earlier, a volunteer nest watcher spotted a camouflaged tent near the nest, located between a bulk shipping terminal and CITGO's petroleum tank farm.

Jack McCrossin, CITGO's environmental manager, was pleased with the state's action but said the company is considering filing municipal trespassing charges against Cullen and any possible associates that could be gleaned from state and federal wildlife investigations.

"We believe he was not alone when he went on the island," McCrossin said. He added that state conservation officers were "upset that someone of his character would put a tent that close to the chick. Even people with little experience would know not to do that."

In 2002, Cullen's efforts to restore bald eagles to New York City's Central Park ran into problems. One eagle fled the area and another was hit by a train and brought back from death on the operating table.

Last year, one of his programs using falcons to control pigeons and rodents in a privately run park in the city ran into trouble when one of the birds attacked a pet Chihuahua. The dog survived.

After the incident, Cullen told newspapers the bird likely mistook the Chihuahua for a rat.

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Falconer afoul of law? Celebrated bird expert facing felony charges

By Wayne A. Hall For the Times Herald-Record scribewayne@aol.com

Goshen – Tom Cullen's been the darling of photo shoots and TV interviews. His birds of prey have been a smash. The slender, feisty master falconer with deep local ties – his great-grandfather was Democratic chairman of Orange County – was summoned when seagulls threatened to ground aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He brought falcons to shoo them away, making headlines. He's the guy New York City called to rid Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, of its annoying pigeons. Local media yukked it up when his Bryant Park hawks also attacked – but didn't harm – a woman's Chihuahua, mistaking it for a rat. When New York City officials wanted to raise threatened bald eagles in Manhattan's northern tip, near the George Washington Bridge, as a symbol of their post-Sept. 11 comeback, they called Cullen. He provided some kickoff television hoopla with a bald eagle on his arm. But now he faces professional extinction. Cullen is under federal indictment, facing felony charges of illegally importing exotic falcons in 1999 under false documentation. He faces possible prison time and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also was charged in March by New Jersey's attorney general with harassing an eaglet to death last year on behalf of a developer who was trying to assess the nesting eagle's tolerance to humans. The nest was on a hotly disputed island in the Delaware River near Camden, N.J. Developers want to build on the island, while others are pressing for a wildlife refuge. Cullen's camouflaged tent scared away the eaglet's parents from rescuing their offspring after it dropped from the nest, state investigators claim. Cullen had set up the tent to observe the nest for a potential development company called Cherokee. Cullen's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, argues that there is no case because Cullen was simply doing his job, properly monitoring the birds. Cullen's defense includes the fact that the 392-acre island has an active oil tank farm, with tractor-trailers parked on a large lot and other human disturbances. Cullen recently said he is confident he will vindicate himself and has rebuffed a $20,000 settlement offer in the New Jersey case. The state civil charges carry a maximum fine of $40,000. Both cases against him have September appearance dates. In a past interview with the Record, Cullen said, "Anybody who knows me knows that I could never do anything to hurt birds." He wouldn't comment for this article. "I can't, my lawyer won't let me," Cullen said. Cullen's legal troubles have dredged up some past notoriety. He entered a misdemeanor guilty plea 21 years ago in Australia, admitting that he climbed up a tree to steal red-tailed cockatoo eggs for a man said to be a smuggler. That was wrong, Cullen has said, but he was in his 20s, trying to help a friend and was not involved in smuggling. He has said he went to Australia, a country where cockatoos were shot as vermin by farmers, to go bird-watching. About the same time, he was convicted in U.S. federal court of sending red-tailed hawks' eggs to friends overseas, a misdemeanor. He has said he did it as a favor, not for profit. Ask people knowledgeable about Cullen's passion – birds of prey – and you find a vigorous split in sympathies. Heinz Meng, the renowned raptor expert who teaches at SUNY New Paltz, says, "I've known him for years and years. He's a good guy and he knows how to take care of his birds. … Look, he got into trouble a long time ago and it's past, and he's doing good work now." But, in New Jersey court papers, the New Jersey Audubon Society warned Cherokee against hiring Cullen, saying he "was unsuitable for the job and was not an expert in eagle breeding." Yet Cullen was credited by New York City Parks Department officials with making their eagle project a success. Following the recent charges, Cullen has been suspended from that project without pay – $54,481 a year. Cullen has said he's someone who lands on his feet. Years ago, he came face to face with a deadly boomslang viper on a high African cliff. A friend yanked him away from the danger. Luckily Cullen fell only six feet, onto a ledge. "I could have fallen a long way," he said.

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This One’s For the Birds Posted by Peter Lattman In Manhattan yesterday, federal judge Colleen McMahon sentenced birdman Thomas Cullen to four months in prison for importing fliers and lying to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In September a jury found Cullen guilty of importing Black Sparrowhawks, a species indigenous to Africa, into the United States in violation of the Wild Bird Conservation Act. The Sparrowhawks are also protected by an international agreement known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. (We’re not much for Black Sparrowhawks; our favorite African bird is the Hadada Ibis.)

The New York Times investigated the curious Cullen last year in an article that caused his ouster as the head of a New York City Parks Department program to bring bald eagles to a city park. The story detailed Cullen’s involvement with the aviary underworld. Here’s some scrumptious detail:

In 1984, Australian authorities arrested Mr. Cullen, who was carrying a hatchet, 100 feet up a tree, trying to snatch eggs from the nest of a red-tailed cockatoo. Nearby were Mr. Cullen’s accomplice and an incubator, powered by a car battery, containing 29 eggs with a black market value of $2,000 to $5,000 each. Mr. Cullen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, and the investigation eventually encompassed dozens of arrests in an intricate network of smugglers around the globe.

Cullen reportedly became enraptured with raptors as a child after seeing the 1958 Disney film “Rusty and the Falcon.”