Image: Manhattan fledgling
Adam Rountree  /  AP
One of three fledglings in the latest brood fathered by the red-tailed hawk named Pale Male sits upright in its 12th-floor nest on the facade of a Fifth Avenue building overlooking New York's Central Park. The chick is expected to take its first flight soon, following in the path of its siblings.
By
updated 6/4/2004 6:53:53 PM ET 2004-06-04T22:53:53

If location is everything, as they say in the New York real estate market, Pale Male has the best of it — a 12th-floor love nest with a posh Fifth Avenue address and a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

There’s also plenty of fast food in nearby Central Park, some of it not quite fast enough to escape the red-tailed hawk as he or his current mate, Lola, swoop in to pick up meals for their latest brood of three fledglings.

The only thing Pale Male doesn’t have is privacy.

Since he was discovered by some of Gotham’s birdwatchers in 1995, he has become a celebrated tourist attraction. Every day, scores of sensibly shod, binocular-necklaced avian aficionados gather on sidewalks or at the Central Park boat pond to stare at the building, hoping to see baby hawks take wing for the first time.

In recent days they got their wish. At 5:20 p.m. ET last Saturday, one fledging was blown off the nest and managed to stay airborne; at 8:26 a.m. Thursday, the second one took flight to a nearby rooftop, leaving the third sibling sitting upright in the nest, wondering where everybody went.

Caught on tape
All of this was caught on videotape by Lincoln Karim, 43, an engineer at Associated Press Television News who since 2001 has devoted his vacations, most of his spare time, and $50,000 worth of telescopes and cameras to recording every aspect of Pale Male’s family life.

“I fell in love with Pale Male,” said Karim, who came to New York from Trinidad 16 years ago. “He is one hell of a hawk — he’s a philosopher, a very deep, wise creature.”

Mary Booth, an ecologist who helps Karim manage the visitors and schoolchildren who cluster around his command post, also finds essential truth and purity in Pale Male’s natural existence amid the city’s concrete and steel.

“It’s just life — providing and being with his mate, with grace, economy and no waste,” Booth said. “It’s the way the world worked for millions of years before people were around.”

Highs and lows
Pale Male — so-named for his unusual J. Crew-beige plumage — has had his highs and lows. His first four mates perished from accidents, poison and unknown causes before he hooked up with Lola three years ago.

But Pale Male also has his own Web site and has been the subject of numerous articles and an award-winning documentary narrated by Joanne Woodward.

Red-tailed hawks normally nest in trees, and Pale Male is the first to nest on a building in Manhattan, said E.J. McAdams, executive director of the New York City Audubon Society.

Pale Male first took up residence on the curved window lintel at 927 Fifth Ave. in 1995. Over the years, he and his mates have produced 25 chicks, according to Marie Winn, author of the book “Red-Tails in Love.”

“Pale Male has become the celebrity bird of New York City,” said McAdams. “He has gotten more regular New Yorkers interested in birds than any other bird in the city.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments