UPPER WEST SIDE — Two of Pale Male's baby hawks were returned to the ramble in Central Park this Saturday, after spending the summer recuperating on Long Island after they were sickened by rat poison, according to local birders.
Animal rescuers Cathy and Bobby Horvath treated the poisoned red-tailed hawks at their volunteer animal rescue organization WINORR, Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation. They said in August they would not return the hawks to Central Park until they were sure they were safe from future poisonings and so delayed releasing them until now.
According to Bobby Horvath, the Parks Department told him that most of the rodenticide in the area has been removed, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History's cooperation. Nevertheless, he said, it was a difficult decision.
"There's always uncertainty," he said. "We can only give [the hawks] a second chance. We did the best we could do. Now it’s up to the birds."
Though the Horvaths and the Parks Department, represented by Park Ranger Rob Mastrianni, tried to keep the release quiet, a crowd of about a dozen "die-hard birders" were joined by about 20 passersby, who Horvath said were very lucky to happen upon the event.
With the "gorgeous weather," Horvath called it "a chance of a lifetime" to watch the two birds return to their habitat.
While the birding community was split on whether to return the hawks to the park or to take them upstate or somewhere else, Horvath said he tries to return animals back as close as possible to where they were taken from.
Plus, the hawks provide an amazing educational opportunity for New Yorkers, he said.
"[People] live here and they’re in shock. They’re in disbelief that a hawk was there," Horvath said.
Cathy Horvath wrote on the organization's Facebook page: "good luck beautiful babies and don't eat rats !!!"
Blogger Roger_Paw, who doesn't like to use her real name, reported that "the fledgling's left talons were painted with nail polish so that anyone who tracked the birds in the near future would be able to tell him apart from his sister."
According to Jean Shum, another avid birder, "the next morning, a park ranger saw pale male with his two children together."
To Bobby Horvath and others, this is an excellent sign, but all they can do now in his words is "cross our fingers."