20 April 2011

New York City loves hawks: Part 1 Pale Male plays the field

Spring is finally here in New York City and love is not only in the air, it is flying right above our heads. Now is the peak breeding season for red-tailed hawks and intrigued New Yorkers are watching these birds of prey like, well, hawks.

Over on the upper east side of Manhattan, New York City’s most famous red-tailed hawk, Pale Male, the Mr. Big of the bird world, is making headlines due to his newly acquired bird hopping ways.

Pale Male was a devoted and monogamous mate to his lady hawk Lola for eight years until last January, when Lola either flew the coop or met her demise. Pale Male played the grieving widower for about a week, then hooked up with a dark feathered younger chick, whom the bird world named Ginger. Ginger only hung around for a couple of weeks, and then another lady hawk, named Pale Beauty, flew into the picture.

Confused yet? Wait, there’s more. Pale Beauty flew away and another lady hawk who may or may not be Ginger returned and may be sitting on Pale Beauty’s eggs. The new female called Ginger-Lima, has been with Pale Male for over two weeks now, and everyone is hoping it is a solid match as it is hard coming up with all these bird names.

Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon explained Pale Male’s complicated new love life to the New York Post this way:

"We have all these images of birds being monogamous and loving couples because our ideal couples are often birds. But the reality is that birds have very messy lives...Birds have extramarital affairs, and they lay eggs in other birds' nests.”

Sigh, we thought you were different Pale Male! Oh, well, you can’t really blame him for indulging in a little skirt chasing; after all he does have that cool pad on Fifth Avenue overlooking the park.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City and writes about all things animal, vegetable, and sometimes mineral at her blog wildnewyorkblog.com. Visit her there to read about animal friendly lifestyles in the Big Apple and beyond. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/28722563@N05