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Late July 2005

Chick #2 (the smaller - male?) in the same area he has been for a few days now. Chick #1 (larger - female?) was seen near the Pine Bank Bridge (had to look that up--the cast iron bridge near the playground at 7th Ave & CPS).

Chick #2 appears to be enjoying walking as much as flying. Here is the aftermath of a determined effort to catch a squirrel. He flew down from his London Plane perch to the bottom of the wall at Central Park West & 61st Street and had a quiet rumble in the bushes. The squirrels really didn't even make a respectable effort to escape. The young hawk decided to stay for a while there at the park's edge and explore a bit.

If I ever escaped the confinements of the human form and found myself wandering in oblivion in search of a new life, and if I had free choice of which that new life were to be, I will wish that my wandering land me here on the muddy edge of this very pond standing put on this bed of damp moss and decaying twigs, only for a small chance to befriend this humble fellow mammal.
If she accepts me as her friend, I will do my best to comfort her and ask her forgiveness of the human race for banishing her and mistreating her for all these centuries. I will beg that she allow me to walk with her through all her favorite places along the bank of the pond and forage and sip water together so that our mouths could meet and so I could look more closely into her eyes and admire her true beauty. I would never encourage her to drop her guard against the human trespassers, however I’ll teach her to convert her fear for them into pity.
I will ask to touch her hands and feel her fingers and marvel how closely they resemble mine when I was a human. She may allow me to put my hand on her chest and feel her warm blood and beating heart. I may get an opportunity to follow her to her home and see her eager young babies anxious to suck milk from her body and be comforted that their mother is safely back home to be close to them.
And some force may ask me if I’m sure that this is indeed the new life that I really want, and I’ll confirm with them that it certainly is.
And maybe that force will attempt to persuade me to the other choices at my disposal...a lion, an eagle, a shark, a red tail hawk... And the force may remind me of what a perilous life awaits if I did make that choice complete. The force may show me how in my new life as a rat I may be poisoned, and I may be captured by a scientist to spend the rest of my life being tortured and injected with experimental drugs, and electrocuted or dismembered and left to bask in pain until I’m left to wander again.
By then, after careful consideration, I may look at my new friend sitting quietly in a soft dry corner of her hole and I may see her baby suckling on her breast and her eye may catch a little sunlight that forced its way into her narrow home and I’ll say to the force wholeheartedly that this is my choice.

Sat July 30, 2005

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Only for a few seconds the clouds parted to allow the last bit of sun to sprinkle over Chick #2. It was the kind of image that makes you want to drop everything you're doing and just sit back and admire it—something so truly beautiful and pure which The Earth can still boast for having produced from an almost sterile landscape. Just like the determined plants that still push through the cracks in the concrete of the sidewalks, or the rain that still makes it to the ground through the thick roofs of the subway, or the unwavering stars that still shine through our polluted sky to bless the eyes of the nocturnal creatures when they look up to the heavens on their nightly prowl. Here too is perched a creature that beat some very stiff odds. Just a handful of Saturdays ago I watched his tiny quivering body break free of a small white egg, and for the next few hours couldn’t hold his wet soggy head up. This evening he stands strong on this sturdy London Plane limb, prepared for the world. The sun, before setting, beckoned to the lazy evening clouds for one last opportunity to caress the young hawk’s body with its soft orange rays before being deprived for so many more hours until it can see his fresh innocent face once more..

Pale Male Junior shortly after delivering a small meal to his baby in the tree.
He inherited more than the swank white plumage from his old man; after observing this magnificient creature over the past few years I’d say he inherited a big piece of his dear father’s heart - Fri July 29, 2005

The mother of the beautiful creature in the orange sunlight who sheltered and warmed him for so many days and night scarcely ever thinking about her own comfort. I know the sun went out of its way to highlight their baby like this as a way of saying 'job well done' to the proud parents - Fri July 29, 2005

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It's moments like this that I wish for Norma (Collins) to be around so I can get a full description of which type of flower these are. I will be sure to get a full account with a charming little story that only Norma can tell. Until I see her again these will be just 'pretty little flowers' with a sweet little baby hawk that spent his time all afternoon admiring a squirrel on the ground. When finally he flew down to be better acquainted, the squirrel would have no part of him. So soon after he wound up in this low flowering tree.

The same baby as above. By the looks of him I would say it was Chick #1 (the older and first to fledge), but I know that Chick #2 is more acquainted with this side of the park--so I'm not really sure which it is. 63rd St & Central Park West, Thursday July 28, 2005

All nine ducklings happily asleep after one last swim around the pond for insects and other little bits of food and also some sunflower seeds that just happened to be spilled into the pond. Thursday July 28, 2005

Chick #1 asleep in her new home--Central Park. This is a tree near the 6th Ave entrance of CPS. 7:53 PM Tuesday July 26, 05

She’ll sleep tonight without the burdensome thoughts and worries about tomorrow that we may have. She’s so free that not even time can bind her. She can shut her eyes forever and open them the very next moment without missing an ounce of life and never loosing a wink of sleep. For her, Central Park is now an enchanting place with boundless nooks and crannies to disappear into and emerge somewhere fresh and thrilling. The confines of her cramped nest have suddenly blossomed into a big beautiful new world. At times she must be terrified by the cries of unwelcoming smaller birds, and the sight of so many new creatures and trees may be overwhelming, but that in itself must be awakening another big new world of feelings deep inside her. Daily she’ll become braver and more committed to become what millions of years have prescribed for her. Soon after her world will widen even more when she begins to explore the sky. As she learns to fly higher and higher my wish will be to share with her that thrill of curving the flatness of the earth and hushing its maddening noises with yards and yards of altitude. Though I realize this is an impractical wish, I shall be nevertheless content knowing that my love for her may transport a small piece of me up with her so I may experience what it’s like to be above all the heaviness which pounds us humans into the earth.
To observe her and her little brother revel in their new life is a gift that I truly am grateful for, and I hope that I will be able to continue capturing more tiny moments of it to share with you for as long as they find New York City a place suitable to become a Red Tail Hawk the caliber of their mother and father and every one of the thousands of generations of fine Red Tails before them, especially that one great ancestor dearest to my heart.

Both chicks have made it into the park--not without incident it appears--a passerby reported that a chick was seen early yesterday evening on the sidewalk at 63 & CPW attempting to jump up on a parked car. The passerby appeared credible and all I can say is whatever happened I'm happy I missed it and they are now both very safe in Central Park. They made it across 59th Street!

Pale Male Jr. in the 7th Ave South Playground under construction and fenced off to park visitors. This is just before he attended to Chick #2 - 7:31 PM Tuesday July 26, 2005

Yesterday (Monday July 25, 05), I received a call from one of the construction workers (nest to Trump Parc) who said she (chick #1 above) was on his floor (26th) when he came in to work early in the morning. I was unable to get out there because of work. All the workers in that building have been extremely supportive and respectful of the nest and hawks even before I started photographing.
Also, one day last week when I was out on the roof of the construction site, the owner of the large terrace and president of the co-op board for The Trump Parc introduced himself to me. He said during the time when the nest was being built the hawks tore branches off the trees that lined his very large terrace. He said he was honored, and happy to have them, and he's looking forward to next years nesting in the same place.

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This is another one of those beautiful things - Sat July 23, 2005

Pale Male Jr. - Sun July 24, 2005

Model Sailboat Pond Ducklings - Sun July 24, 2005

Chick #1 getting used to balance and jumping. Fri July 22, 2005.

Pale Male seen here in The Ramble close to the Maintenance Shed. Shortly after he flew over to the Stovepipe Building and was harassed by a mockingbird for hours - Sat July 23, 2005

Pale Male in The Ramble - July 23, 05

Harassed by a mockingbird. Sat July 23, 2005.

Several of these little guys came down from the overhanging London Plane on silk threads. I picked them up and put them on the tree. I had no idea where they wanted to go, but crawling on the asphalt path certainly would have done them no good. Sat July 23, 2005.

All nine ducklings are doing very well. Sat July 23, 2005.

Fledgling #1. Hatched Thursday June 2, 2005. Fledged 2:30 PM Thursday July 21, 2005 (50 days)

Fledgling #2. After a marathon first flight. Hatched Saturday June 4, 2005. Fledged 2:52 PM Friday July 22, 2005 (49 days)

Both parents kept watch constantly. (PM Jr on the left)

A farewell kiss. Wednesday July 20, 2005.

Friday July 22, 2005:

Friday July 22, 2005:


At 2:52PM the second baby jumped from the nest and in an amazing first time flight headed directly west and landed very smoothly on the rooftop of the SW corner of 58th & 7th. This is certainly a record breaking flight for any Red Tail chick that I have observed in my short time--an entire Avenue block with a wide circling midway in his/her flight. It landed on the side of a water tower and displayed good control and balance.

Chick #1 meanwhile is flying relatively well, but is not easily convinced that brick walls and glass windows are impenetrable. It spent the night on a rooftop just west of the nestsite. On Friday afternoon, after a few stumbles and one or two crashes, it ended up on the south side of a beautiful pseudo-balcony on 136 W 58th Street. Once the word spread of my good intensions with my two large cameras setup on the street, many residents came out on the sidewalk and we had an enlightening though temporary ‘Hawk Bench’ situation on the sidewalk. Several residents invited me up to get a closer shot but the one from the sidewalk sufficed.

At the end of the day I was pleased and relieved that the chicks are, for the time being, heading slowly toward the park.

The maintenance workers, doormen and building superintendents of all the buildings involved were extremely respectful and helpful to the fledglings. They all took the time to admire and keep a safe distance from them. I had to tell one of them that the container of water which he brought for Chick #1 was not necessary but the thought was very sweet.

Whatever happens now is up to Nature and 59th Street traffic. Nevertheless, I feel honored to declare that Pale Male Junior has finally succeeded on this; his 6th attempt in four years to have the legend of Pale Male extended further into yet another generation. Nature has once more triumphed over extremely thin odds, and penetrated a very tough city that, for the most part, hardly takes the time in its progress and development to acknowledge the fundamental fact that we are not the only animal that has a right to this land. I feel that every other animal that has managed to make New York City their home is proud of this successful hawk nest even if they are their prey...every rat, squirrel, pigeon, robin, mosquito, cockroach and even the few Asian Longhorn beetles that I’m sure escaped the city-wide poisoning/genocide program. They all will be encouraged by this remarkable victory that even yours truly had a heavy heart about them pulling it through.

I hope when these hawk babies cross 59th Street that enough carriage horses get to see them demonstrate what true freedom looks like. Their leather blinders may prevent lateral vision, but it still allows them to see up above their harnessed heads. I bet the horses will gently stamp a forefoot on the steaming hot eroded asphalt where they are forced to stand still in the heat for hours, to acknowledge the babies’ safe crossing. I bet every imprisoned animal in The Central Park Zoo will be proud to watch through any crevice in their cells to get a glimpse of a free ‘untouched by human hand’ animal soaring above them. Those who cannot see may hear the stamp of the horses’ hooves and rejoice that freedom really exists, and it’s only a matter of time when the minds of man can mature enough so they can all delight in their fundamental right to it.

Godspeed Stinker #1&2.

A marvelous sight to you and I, but a potential heart attack to the poor soul attempting to draw the blinds open. Chick #1 challenges the flythroughability of a glass window on West 58th Street - Fri July 22, 2005.

Chick #2 contemplating its next move as it tests the cool ability to keep itself upright by holding on to a narrow object. Fri July 22, 2005

Thursday July 21, 2005:
At approx 2:30 today the first chick left the nest and landed on the roof of a building on 57th Street bet 6th & 7th. Later it flew to the roof of the building between The Hampshire House & the building under construction. It found itself inside the machine room but later came out and perched on a cozy ledge of the same building.

Pale Male Jr. flew over the rooftops and called constantly. Here he perched for a few minutes as the baby found itself inside the machine room of the roof in pictire above.

The last baby stretched over to keep eye contact with his departed nestmate.

Junior kept a keen lookout constantly for the fledgling.

When at last the baby was out of the machine room and safely perched on a cozy ledge, junior joined Charlotte on top of The Hampshire House's east tower and there they stayed for several hours. Junior periodically called out to the fledgling

Pale Male Jr. Nest Site Update: Tuesday July, 05

The chicks are being left alone for hours. Food is being delivered and they feed themselves. Their exercising is more rigorous and both are getting good lift when they flap.

For more detailed updates and observations Click Here.

Charlotte hardly expressed an interest in the concert at The Great Lawn (far background) - Tuesday July 19, 05

It's looking at an ant walking on the wall - Sat July 16, 05

These days 'Essex' is spelt with an accent between the E & S - Sunday July 17, 05

Time well spent - Saturday July 16, 05

Up on the raw, newly constructed platform which sits all the way to the top of 110 Central Park South, I stood and watched the sleeping heads of the two baby red tail hawks.
“Why am I up here again?” I asked myself as I unloaded my extremely heavy backpack. Who do I account to for my time expended on this insatiable quest for photographs? Several union workers welded and scraped and swept and bolted and read blue prints and communicated on wireless radios. They all had a purpose and it showed each day in the progress of the new building. In another year or so there’ll be people living right where I stood. There will be fancy dining rooms and spectacular views of the park and maybe even a nursery...right where one of my tripods stood. The workers time shall be by then, all accounted for.
The welder continued welding, and the bolter tightened his bolts, and the sweeper swept, and the blue print reader pointed and checked and circled.
Some pigeons flew out of the top of the Trump water tower and they went in a particular direction and was due back by a particular time, I’m sure--they too had all their time accounted for. The elevator began to ascend and it shook the building so I steadied my lens and asked myself once more; how do I account for all this time? Even the elevator man had his purpose and his time was well accounted for, but how do I account for mine?
Why do I even have to account for anything? I hate accounting personally. I looked over at the park and watched the tiny people go about their business—every person on a mission of sorts. My eyes followed a carriage horse as it passed a hot-dog stand and disappear under a series of leafy trees until it emerged around a bend that led to the East Drive. Even from way up there, I could hear every clap of its hooves on the steaming hot asphalt. Even if it was only a few degrees shy of 90 they still had to pull their wagon of demanding tourists in the sweltering heat. All their time spent in humiliation is well accounted for, but how about mine? I truly enjoy being up high on those manmade cliffs, especially when alone. It’s a reclusive feeling but not lonely. One can understand why hermits choose to live on mountaintops.
After coming down from the building I walked down toward the 59th Street Pond. I had to stand closer to that trail of carriage horses at the Sixth Avenue entrance as they got loaded with passengers and made their way into the park. Raising one’s voice in protest is so fruitless, but to remain silent to me, is so callous.
“Sir, don’t you feel like it’s wrong to be riding this carriage and putting this poor animal through this torture--especially in this heat?” I addressed one of four passengers that sat in the carriage. He immediately looked at the woman next to him and they all began laughing. The driver cut in simultaneously with a retort too typical to repeat, in an accent to familiar to mention.
I was left as a madman on the sidewalk who was not minding his own business, and the five happy humans disappeared into the park. I walked down to the pond and admired a turtle that climbed to the top of a pointed rock that was not flat enough to support its belly comfortably. It remained there almost balancing, but appeared to be quite content. I kept my heavy backpack on my shoulders as a pathetic way to sympathize with the enslaved animals; by doing this I may have been feeling a bit of their burden, but not a fraction of their humiliation.
A large housefly landed on a wire fence near to where I was observing the turtle and I photographed it. I shall always remain amazed how something so incredibly complex can be considered useless, and a tiresome pest. At that moment I considered that some of the people who believed this of a housefly, may be at that moment riding around on a carriage horse.
I attempted to walk up to The Model Sailboat Pond to see if my old friend Pale Male will show his face to me after so long, and also to check in on the Mother Duck and her nine ducklings but the weight on my back and the threat from the darkening sky forced me to redirect my path to the small hill across from The Essex House where I planned to observe Junior’s nest for the rest of the evening.
On the hill I met some familiar faces that soothed my spirit and made the lazy Saturday afternoon quite pleasant. Visits from a few handsome squirrels made the evening even more agreeable. But the hill is located just a few dozen yards from the Carriage Horse stand where the new shifts come in from the west on U-turns in the middle of 59th Street, and the departing shifts get hauled off with quick sharp lashes on their backs from their drivers. As much as I tried to tune them out I was just not able to. I saw a black horse galloping up to its place on the stand with it’s tongue flaring out of its foaming mouth and hanging backward pinched by the steel bit drawn hard against it. I searched the two dozen faces about me on the hill to see if I can share the observation but the topic of conversation was Harry Potter and it would have been a tough job to distract from that.
I pulled my gear together and as I did, spoke my grief silently to the squirrels, a blue jay and a Linden, and I was pleased to recognize that they acknowledged and shared my mental torture. I descended the small hill and headed home with several questions riding on my mind--two of which I still remember; how do I account for all my time spent, and where do I find a vacant mountaintop?
Once home after I discovered the photograph above I felt the former question somewhat answered, especially after reading letter after letter from so many strangers out there that wrote to say how much they look forward to seeing moments like this.
REwards like this certainly makes me feel like it was time well accounted for. Nevertheless the latter question still weighs heavy on my mind.

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Please give Brent Plater any info on Nest destruction you may have...

Pale Male & Lola reports _____ Pale Male Jr & Charlotte reports

More Love - Saturday July 16, 05

Big sister(?) is pretending to be Mom to her little brother(?) - Saturday July 16, 05

Exercising - Saturday July 16, 05

Technically, since her left wingtip is touching the wall, this does not count as a complete 'lift-off' - Saturday July 16, 05

While I waited for a sighting of Pale Male this girl kept me busy keeping her in focus - Thur July 14, 05

A leaf barely breaks the surface tension on The MSB Pond. Every speck of dust appears to be so perfectly placed. To the little fly sitting on the leaf this is his little world and for that moment which could have easily escaped my eye, this must be the best place that he'd ever want to be--floating on a beautiful leaf to no where in particular - Thur July 14, 05

The west wall of The Trump Parc - Sat July 9, 05

The first set of ducklings came to The Pond on Sunday July 3rd. A few days later on Thursday a second set came into the pond but with no mother. The first mother attacked them when they came too close. Several calls were made and the next day the park rangers took the orphaned set out of the pond. They managed however to miss one out of the group and this little guy was left behind. Suddenly the mother of the first eight now has nine little ducklings. This is #9. Some people believe he sneaked into the brood without suspicion by Mom. I believe the mother adopted him. An entire orphaned brood she may not handle, and will do the natural thing which is to destroy them, for fear of jeopardizing her own brood. This one little guy she knows though that she can make a little room for under her beautiful loving wings - Sun July 10th. 2005.

At The Boat Pond - Sun July 10, 05

Obviously not afraid of heights - Sat July 9, 05

Underwing Moth on oak tree near Pilgrim Hill - Monday July 11, 05

Underwing Moth on oak tree near Pilgrim Hill - Monday July 11, 05

Underwing Moth on oak tree near Pilgrim Hill - Monday July 11, 05

Robin's Nest at the entrance to The Ramble. Chicks seems to have just been hatched. - Sunday July 10, 05

Trump Parc nest - Saturday July 9, 05

Trump Parc nest - Saturday July 9, 05

Trump Parc nest - Saturday July 9, 05

Trump Parc nest - Saturday July 9, 05

Charlotte - Saturday June 11, 05

Baby looking back - Tuesday July 5, 05

Mom seems to be assisting with homework - Tuesday July 5, 05

Charlotte feeding pigeon to her chicks. Both babies are beginning to exercise their wings - Tuesday July 5, 05

The eight Conservatory Water Ducklings - Entered The Pond on Sunday morning July 3, 2005

I must have hundreds of photographs of Lola on this very spot (Linda #1), why take more today? Because hundreds are just not enough.

Our newest ducklings arrived by boat early Sunday morning - Sunday July 3, 05

A tourist from Baltimore (left), defends her right to a bath at The Gill - Sunday July 3, 05