[Photo in Tompkins Square Park by Derek Berg]
The Wall Street Journal checks in today with a feature on the city's booming red-tailed hawk population... Christo and Dora, the red-tailed hawk couple of Tompkins Square Park, get a shout out, though not by name.
The article is available via subscription only... here are a few excerpts...
The hawk population in Manhattan has grown from only three known pairs in 2006 to 14 or 15 today, said Rob Mastrianni, a New York City Urban Park Ranger.
It is unclear why raptors are becoming more common in Manhattan, said Debra Kriensky, a conservation biologist at New York City Audubon. Possible explanations include the abundance of food—rats, squirrels and pigeons—and city efforts to limit the use of rat poison, which can kill hawks.
Whatever the reason, the presence of more hawks heralds changes in the relationship between New Yorkers and nature. Combined with sightings of coyotes, deer, and even eagles prowling city neighborhoods, hawk spottings are a reminder that urban areas can include a surprising amount of wildlife.
Research shows hawks need about two square miles of exclusive territory, but New York City’s hawks are living as close as five blocks from each other, said Bobby Horvath, a city firefighter who rehabilitates injured hawks from New York City in his home in South Massapequa on Long Island. “I guess the red-tailed hawks haven’t read that part of the textbook.”
With hawks already defying density predictions, it is unclear how long the urban population boom will continue.
The main danger hawks face in New York is eating rats that have been poisoned by rodenticide. But since the city has curtailed rat poison use in parks near known hawk nests, New Yorkers may continue to be startled by urban wildlife sightings.
As always, for more on Christo and Dora as well as other NYC wildlife, head on over to Goggla's photo site here.