The New York Times reports this morning that the three baby Red-Tailed Hawks, that were big enough to spread their wings but had not yet left the nest, are no longer in their nest and believed to be dead. One dead “chick” was found on a path at Riverside Park and is being sent to New York State DEC’s (Department of Environmental Conservation) Ward Stone who runs the Wildlife Pathology Unit there and is considered the ‘go to’ person on these matters. Stone will determine the cause of death.
It is speculated that the birds may have been fed by their parents a rat or pigeon that had previously ingested poison. This is not the first time poison put down in our Parks has come into question. In 2002, the New York Daily News reported that some of the eastern screech owls which were reintroduced into Central Park were dying from pesticides.
At that time, the News reported that : “The Raptor Trust, a New Jersey bird rehabilitation center … [which supplied the first owls released into Central Park in 1998] declined to send more birds because of concern over rat poisons used by the city.”
The president of the Raptor Trust, Len Soucy, was quoted as saying, “I was asked to continue the program after 1998 and I declined, because as I understood it … they had reinstituted the use of poisons in the park. You can’t be pro-owl and support the wholesale poisoning of rodents.”
It’s a concern that the same fate afflicted three baby red-tailed hawks in Riverside Park.
You can read the first version of the Times’ story which appeared on the City Room Blog (with some interesting reader comments) here.
Update: A photo of “naturalist” Leslie Day with the discovered “fallen chick” appears on Marie Winn’s blog covering Central Park “Nature News.” (When you go to the site, do scroll down because the migrating birds in Central Park right now are quite magnificent.)
May 14: All three chicks have been found and are dead. I’ll post once cause of death is confirmed.