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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bad News from the Bronx

Chris Lyons sent out a series of emails on Thursday regarding one of the Bronx Red-tailed Hawks. "Hawkeye" is the mate to "Rose" and they nested at the Fordham University Rose Hill campus for a few years. This season they moved the nest a few blocks away to the New York Botanic Gardens. The news wasn't good.

Here are his emails detailing the situation:

From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 11:57:23 AM EDT
Subject: Sick/Injured Red-tail taken into custody by police on Fordham Campus.

I witnessed the last few minutes of this drama--I didn't get a good look at the bird, and had assumed it was a juvenile, based on a quick glance into a dark animal crate--but the pictures seem to be of Hawkeye. I'm hoping it's not rat poison [...].

I had wondered why there was such a big police presence--apparently Rose was defending him. If you saw all the police vehicles, you'd think there was an escaped lion prowling around.


From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 2:27:51 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Sick/Injured Red-tail taken into custody by police on Fordham Campus.

I've twice spoken to someone at the [animal hospital]. He's still being looked at, and they couldn't really give me much information. I did just hear something that worries me--there was an eyewitness account that he didn't land on the lawn--he fell out of a tree. That's got to be either disease or poison--can't think of any other explanation.

I was told that he was very calm (obviously much weakened), and gave the authorities no trouble--Rose was another matter. She did her damndest to fight them off. They had plexiglass shields out, just to protect themselves from the full force of her wrath--she probably remembers how she was taken into custody years back, after being found with an injured wing. It's asking a lot of a wild hawk to know the difference between good and bad intentions. As far as they're concerned, taking away their freedom always qualifies as a bad intention. But it doesn't sound like this was something that was going to fix itself.


From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 30, 2009 4:43:54 PM EDT
Subject: Hawkeye being treated for probable poisoning

I wish the news was better--finally spoke to someone at the
[animal hospital]. Hawkeye (it has to be him, much as I wish it wasn't) is extremely ill, and exhibiting symptoms consistent with exposure to rat poison. He has severe anemia, and extensive bruising. There is no sign of any injury--if he can recover from the poison, there's no reason he couldn't be returned to the wild, best as they can tell. But they say that right now the prognosis is poor. He is badly weakened.

[...] They are familiar with the symptoms of poisoning in this species, and obviously have a first-rate treatment facility, and are doing as much as they can to try and help him.

[...] I doubt I'll hear anything more today. I'll try and follow up tomorrow. But if anyone who has had more experience with hawk poisonings wants to call them, please go ahead.

If he doesn't recover, a part of me wishes they'd just put him back outside, and let him meet his end there--a being like that shouldn't die under a roof, where he can't see the sky. It isn't right. But neither are lots of other things.


From: Christopher Lyons
Date: July 31, 2009 3:17:31 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Hawkeye being treated for probable poisoning

I put in a call this morning, and they called me back a few hours later.

Hawkeye was found dead in his cage this morning.

And that's easily one of the top ten sentences I wish I'd never had to type.

I spoke to
[someone at the animal hospital], who was extremely friendly and understanding, but not in a position of high authority. He said their procedures in cases like this normally necessitate doing a necropsy, then incinerating the remains. I spent some time impressing upon him how important it is that some part of him be conveyed to a qualified expert, such as Ward Stone (with whom they've had dealings in the past) for the purpose of DNA testing. He said he'd convey that to his superiors, but could promise nothing. [...]

[...] For those who never had the chance to see him in person, and particularly up close--you missed something. I know eventually another worthy male will present himself to Rose, and be accepted as the new patriarch of the territory she and Hawkeye established together.

But right now--and I'll clock anyone who tells me this is anthropomorphism--I know she's just feeling a great absence in her world. And so am I.

Here is a little about the photo that Chris sent me for this posting:

I was honored on one occasion in particular to be observing the Collins Hall nest from the roof of Dealy Hall, when Hawkeye landed on the railing, just a short distance away. These were taken in April '08--right around the time I believe the eggs hatched--hatching might have been going on right then. I know hawks don't 'smile', but he definitely had a very joyous expression about him--he radiated contentment. Even though I was just a short distance away, furiously snapping photos, he didn't spend much time looking at me. He was surveying his kingdom, and he was well pleased.

You want to hear strange? I feel like my king is dead. Long live the queen.

1 comment:

Starz723 said...

This is so very very sad, it brought tears to my eyes. As a lover of wildlife and I have an attachment to my Hawks at Green-Wood Cemetery, I can identify with Chris's feelings.

When we found a dead red tail and a dead great horned owl a couple of years back, it could have come from rat poison. We will never know.

Marge Raymond

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