By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
STUYVESANT SQUARE PARK — An injured baby red-tailed hawk found in Stuyvesant Square Park in early November is finishing up his rehabilitation and is set be released next week, though not necessarily back where it was found.
Parkgoers who found the fledgling on Nov. 3 worried it got hurt after eating a poisoned rat. However, an X-ray determined that it had a trauma-based wing injury, said wildlife rehabilitator (and New York City firefighter) Bobby Horvath, who is caring for the hawk on Long Island.
But because of the bait laid down to curtail this park's rat problem, Horvath may not return the hawk, born in the spring, to the park where it was found.
"I know people care about it, but if you bring it back to that park, it is not necessarily in the bird’s best interest," Horvath said.
He said he was considering a couple of big parks in Queens or the Bronx as suitable new homes for the fledgling hawk.
Stuyvesant Square Park, however, has had no shortage of hawk sightings since the injured red-tailed hawk was hospitalized.
Phyllis Mangels, a resident of the area for 30 years and president of the Stuyvesant Square Community Alliance, saw her first hawk here two years ago on Thanksgiving Day.
"They started showing up in the fall, would stay a few weeks, and then come back in the spring for a few weeks," she said. "They’re very cool. And they’re not afraid of people. One was sitting on the fountain for an hour, letting people take its picture."
They’ve been spotted on park benches and picnic tables. Malgorazata "Gosha" Moseig, a Parks Department gardener who’s at Stuyvesant Square Park three days a week and Union Square two days, sees them perched up high on the Beth Israel Medical Center sign facing the parks’ eastern edge or on the Peter Stuyvesant statue.
"Since the leaves started falling off the trees, you see the hawks everyday," said Moseig. She also sees them at Union Square — once perched on the pointing finger of the George Washington statue. After that, she bought a camera and has been documenting them ever since.
"People sitting on the benches often don’t even notice," Moseig said. "You’ll have a hawk flying right by, right under your nose."
Sarah Aucoin, director of the Urban Park Rangers, said that city hawks, especially babies like the one injured last month, tend to be less wary of humans.
"Pale Male receives a lot of attention, but he is representative of 20 to 30 red-tailed hawks nesting in the city and 100 other hawks flying around on any given day," said Aucoin, noting that kestrels, peregrine falcons and screech owls now also make their homes in the city. "Hawks, especially red-tailed, have been steadily increasing over the last decade."
"New York City is a migratory fly-over area. In addition, as the environment has supported healthier prey, top predators like hawks and coyotes have made their way back," Aucoin said.
"Every park, every neighborhood has a hawk," Horvath said. "Unfortunately, the more there are, the more they’ll get in trouble."
Besides poisoned rats, feasting on pigeons also poses problems. "Pigeons kill red-tails," he said. "The pigeons have a parasite that they are perfectly fine with, but can kill anything that eats them."
The very reason Horvath doesn’t want to bring the hawk back here is why Ellen Black, 63, who walks her two toy poodles in Stuyvesant Square Park, likes them: they eat rats.
"I won’t take my dogs into the park at night because of the rats," she said. "Some people I know were worried for their little dogs, but the hawk I saw was small. It was eating a mouse or something. It wasn’t big enough to take my dogs as far as I could tell."