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Signs of New Hawk Babies for Pale Male Has Birders Atwitter

By Emily Frost | April 22, 2013 4:31pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — Birders are rejoicing at what they believe are signs of the birth of new hawk babies to famed Central Park red-tailed hawk Pale Male and his current belle Octavia.

The hawk couple, posted on a balcony at 927 Fifth Ave., according to their most loyal fans, brought a rat and a squirrel to the nest Sunday, and are exhibiting feeding motions, leading viewers to believe a new generation has arrived. 

"Octavia began tearing the rat into tiny bits then began making feeding motions inside the nest bowl," avid birder Donegal Browne, who spotted the activity Sunday afternoon, wrote on her blog

Typically, both Pale Male and Octavia eat outside of the nest, and wouldn't expend effort moving the prey from one part of the nest to the next were it not for the need to feed babies, Browne speculated on her blog.

The feeding is the only clue the birders, who are armed with telescopes and state-of-the-art binoculars, have of the birth, she said. 

"There is no view into the nest bowl.  We won't know the number of [babies] until their heads pop over the rim and we can count them," Browne said. 

But for Browne and other close observers, this behavior was enough evidence to launch a celebration.

Birder Jean Shum said she was delighted for the couple.

Though Shum watches and photographs birds all over the city, she said Pale Male is her favorite.

"There is something so unique and special about him... He's my hero!" she said.

For Shum and others, the advent of a new generation represents a moment of mixed emotions, after Pale Male's other fledglings fell dangerously ill after ingesting rat poison last fall and mates of the beloved hawk died from the same cause.

"It's bittersweet," Shum said.