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Second Pale Male Baby Hawk Undergoes Rat Poisoning Test

By Emily Frost | July 26, 2012 2:17pm

CENTRAL PARK — Another of famed red-tailed hawk Pale Male's babies was taken to a Long Island treatment center to be tested for rat poisoning Thursday, a day after blood tests revealed its sibling had poison in his system.

Parks Department Ranger Rob Mastrianni snared the fledgling Thursday morning and took it to a Long Island-based volunteer animal rescue treatment center run by Cathy Horvath and her husband Bobby Horvath, where the bird was set to undergo tests, a Parks Department spokesman said.

Cathy Horvath grabbed the first hawk baby from a tree near the American Museum of Natural History Sunday, with the help of local birder Lincoln Karim. Blood tests on that bird confirmed Wednesday that it suffered from rat poisoning and was anemic, Cathy Horvath said.

"Hold on tight my little friend," Karim wrote on his website Palemale.com. "That nasty poison you got inside your precious body is strong but no poison made by man is stronger than your will to live."

"Too many people love you and want you to live so you’re going to make it through this. Your father and mother’s power and love is inside you to help you make it."

Horvath started the first bird on a regimen of vitamin K injections and other detox treatments immediately, and reached out to the Parks Department for help capturing the second sibling which was spotted on a tree near the Metropolitan Museum of Art Wednesday.

"We will treat [the first bird] for at least 10 days and if it survives, release back where he came from," Horvath wrote Wednesday night. "Some animals can show initial improvement only to bleed out later depending on the amount of toxin ingested," she added.

She said that the birds would face as much danger in the suburbs of Long Island as in Central Park, because of rat poison on golf courses and elsewhere.

Horvath spotted the second sibling in the tree Sunday, but it was too high to reach. Bird fans kept an eye on it through the week, saying they noticed it was acting sluggish and appeared to have symptoms of poisoning.

Philip Abramson, Parks Department spokesman, said the second bird "appeared to be lethargic" when it was captured.

The Parks Department no longer uses rat poison in Riverside Park, Central Park or the areas around the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the American Museum of Natural History, where the sickened hawks were found. They did not say how they thought the birds were poisoned.

Horvath said Wednesday that she believed the sickened birds ate a rat that had consumed poison.

On Wednesday, birders placed a small tub with water near the branch where the second baby was perched and it eventually came down and drank a little and cooled off, said avid bird watcher Kevin Sisco, who was relieved the baby was being taken for treatment.  

"It was especially sad to watch [the sick hawk], because the problem was caused by us," Sisco said, adding that he worried the hawk would have died without care. He added that he was surprised to see the bird alone for so long, with no visit from parents Pale Male or Zena, who he has seen feed the fledglings in the past.