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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Astoria Red-tailed Hawk article

The following article just appeared in the New York Daily News. Bobby has told me in the past that we are coming up on a very busy period of time for him. As all of our young Red-tailed Hawks leave the nest they run into many different hazards around New York City. Let's hope that they all have a happy ending.

Wildlife rescuer Bobby Horvath saves Astoria's red-tailed hawk from poison
By John Lauinger

Daily News Staff Writer

Sunday, June 1st 2008, 4:00 AM

Barcelo for News
New York City Firefighter and licensed wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath with a 6-week-old hawk found on W. 55th St. in Manhattan last year.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena is a helper of heroes and a protector of the brave.
But in the heavily Greek neighborhood of Astoria, Athena is a young female red-tailed hawk who needed help from a hero - and got it from one of New York's Bravest.

Last year, Athena and her mate, Atlas, nested on an elbow-shaped drainage pipe on the underside of the Triborough Bridge approach.

One day in July, after her offspring - known as eyases rather than chicks - had left the nest, neighborhood residents found Athena lying unresponsive on the sidewalk underneath the bridge.

She was dehydrated and anemic, and exhibited neurologic symptoms indicative of poisoning.
Athena "was helpless," said Bobby Horvath, a firefighter at Engine 264 in Far Rockaway who was called in to care for the hawk after lab tests confirmed she was poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Horvath, 45, moonlights as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. He has cared for hundreds of hawks, falcons and owls out of his Long Island home.

He fed Athena, and gave her antibiotics and fluids.

Though it is "very uncommon" for birds to survive poisoning, Horvath said, the plucky Athena perked up eight days later. "That bird was very lucky, very fortunate, that it received care in a quick manner," said the FDNY veteran, who has spent more than 14 years fighting fires.

Athena, named by local hawk watchers in honor of Astoria's Greek heritage, was soon returned to her nest and the company of her mate.

But she quickly skipped town - and wasn't spotted in the area all winter, said local Athena-watcher Jules Corkery. This spring, as bird watchers began reporting birds of prey nesting throughout the city, Athena was still nowhere to be seen in Astoria, said Corkery, 42.

"Just when we had given up hope, she was spotted with Atlas, perching on a London plane's branch," she said. Since returning around Easter weekend, Athena and Atlas have established a new nest on the underside of the Triborough Bridge, not far from their previous spot.

Athena has been glimpsed in nearby Astoria Park, perching atop floodlights illuminating the track, or alighting atop the pool's high-diving board.

But that's not all. Since early last month, Athena also has been spotted caring for three fuzzy eyases. "If she was healthy enough to lay and hatch healthy babies, then she is absolutely, 100% recovered from her poisoning episode," Horvath said.

It is unclear how Athena ingested the poison, Horvath said, but most likely, she ate a rat, mouse or pigeon that had been poisoned.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawks are going to be leaving their nests very soon in all 5 boroughs, and there are lots of them. During their first, exploratory days they may seem tame as they haven't yet learned to be wary of us humans. Let me be very clear, they are not tame! Do not approach them and in no way should you try to pick them up. First, it is against city, state and federal laws. Second, they can inflict serious injury, intentionally or otherwise. If you ever find a sick or injured hawk call the city's 311 line and they will contact the proper authorities. You can also contact Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation (WINORR).

In an older post I mentioned WINORR's ongoing need for support. Bobby and his volunteers are licensed wildlife rehabilitators, but receive no funds from the state, county, or federal governments. They rely completely on donations and grants. If you can help with the supplies for their day-to-day operations, here is a simple wish list:

paper towels
baby blankets
baby wipes
cages (crates, bird cages, etc.)
animal carriers.

If you would like to donate any items, you can contact them at (516) 293-0587. If you’d like to make a monetary donation, checks can be made out to “Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation” and sent to:

202 N. Wyoming Avenue
North Massapequa, NY 11578

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

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