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Baby Hawk Rescued from Ft. Greene Park Waits for his Mother to Return

By Janet Upadhye | August 3, 2012 6:05pm
An image of the famed red-tailed hawk Pale Male.
An image of the famed red-tailed hawk Pale Male.
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Lincoln Karim via Facebook/The Legend of Pale Male

FORT GREENE — A baby hawk that crash landed into a Fort Greene brownstone has lost his father, but rescuers are waiting to see if his missing mother will return to care for her young one.

The baby male red-tailed hawk made the crash landing into a brownstone across the street from Fort Greene Park in late July. The two-month old then sat on the stoop and began to scream.

Concerned residents heard his cries for help and called WINORR-Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, a group that specializes in helping raptors in distress. WINORR's Bobby Horvath answered his phone in North Massapequa, Long Island, and immediately made the hour-long drive to Brooklyn to see what he could do.

Horvath found the fledgling very thin and a little “out of it” from his encounter with the brownstone wall. But he was okay.

After talking with Urban Park Rangers, Horvath learned that there was a red-tailed hawk’s nest in a tree near the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in the park. Rangers had been watching the nest for some time. They had seen both hawk parents and the baby.

But after a search of the park, Horvath couldn't find either parent. He took the little one back to his rescue center in Long Island.

“He is definitely a feisty little guy,” said Horvath. “Hawk's personalities run the gamut, and this one has spunk.”

A few nights later, Sgt. Rick Amorocho of the parks department's Urban Park Rangers received calls from neighbors who had seen an adult male hawk on the ground in the park.

“When hawks are sick, they get close to the ground,” said Amorocho. “So I was concerned.”

Monday morning he found the father hawk. Amorocho suspected that the raptor, who was somewhat listless, was sick. He carefully placed him in a box and called the Horvaths, who met him at the border of Queens and Long Island.

After a quick inspection, Cathy Horvath found a serious infection in the bird’s mouth. He had eaten a pigeon with a parasite and developed large tumors in his throat. The last thing he ate was still lodged in his throat where maggots had already gathered. In less than 4 hours, the father hawk died.

With a missing mother and dead father, the baby hawk was considered an orphan and could not be returned to the park. He's now living in an outdoor flight cage where the Horvaths are feeding him frozen rats. He is small, weighing about a pound and a half.

He lives alongside nine other red-tailed hawks. Four are city hawks. The Central Park fledglings are there, along with one from Forest Hills, Queens. Horvath said that they plan to release him back into the wild in September, when he's strong enough to survive.

And there's still hope that the baby hawk's mother will return. "This story could have a happy ending,” Amorocho said. “Sometimes mothers come back.”