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Baby Hawks Melt Hearts in Riverside Park

By Leslie Albrecht | August 2, 2010 6:57am | Updated on August 3, 2010 6:17am

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — The hawk family that's captured the hearts of Riverside Park has two new members.

Two hatchlings have been spotted in the nest of the red-tailed hawks that live high in a tree just north of the West 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe, confirming the suspicions of avid bird watchers in the area.

The fuzzy-headed hatchlings were born just three months after the hawk family lost three babies when a gust of wind knocked the family's nest to the ground.

The hawk couple quickly rebuilt their home and now they're parents again, much to the delight of wildlife lovers who visit the nest daily to check on the family.

"They've become everybody's pet," said Sue Yuan, standing beneath the nest with a pair of binoculars. Yuan said she screamed with delight when she first spotted one of the snowy white hatchlings in the nest last week.

Yuan said she'd never seen newborn hawks before and expected them to be scrawny and not very cuddly-looking.

She was pleasantly surprised that the hatchlings, also called eyasses, had huge eyes and white fuzz that give them the look of polar bear cubs.

"You just want to pet them, but you can't," Yuan said.

The hawk family has had a rough couple of years. Two hatchlings were hit by cars and killed on the West Side Highway, another died after eating the meat of a poisoned rat.

In a few weeks, the new hatchlings will start learning how to fly, said hawk watcher Nabil Esphahani, an engineer who visits the nest regularly to take photos of the raptor family. The hawks hunt pigeons, rats, squirrels and the occasional starling, Esphahani said.

"It takes them a while before they know how to hunt themselves, so even after they leave the nest, the parents will be bringing them food," Esphahani said.