A reader's query: With 3 Hawks in the Hood, Can We give the Washington Square Park Squirrels a Little Assistance?


hawk, squirrel & tree-Wash Sq Pk

Commenter Drewo wrote in the other day with concern about the beloved Washington Square Park squirrels and their fate with the arrival of red-tailed hawks Violet, Bobby, and now Pip.

From Drewo:

I found your WSP blog on the internet. As a long-time visitor to the park, I am concerned the squirrel population will be annihilated by the hawks that now reside around the park. Much attention has been paid by the media (particularly the NY Times) to the nesting hawks – I guess the fate of the squirrels does not require as much attention.

I was in the park on Wednesday (7/6) and found a hawk perched directly atop a squirrel house – with one terrorized squirrel crouching inside the house. The hawk was just waiting for it’s food. No hunting required – easy pickings in a squirrel house.

I took pictures and posted this note to the latest NY Times City Room article about the NYU hawks:

I may have partially answered my own question (#6). I entered WSP again today shortly after 2pm and immediately came upon one of the hawks, just west of the arch. The hawk was sitting directly on top of one of the squirrel houses. Just inside the squirrel house was one terrified occupant. The hawk sat there for quite some time, at least 20 minutes, before finally flying off.

It seems like the squirrels are easy pickings for the hawks. Perhaps the Parks Department might consider a modification of the squirrel houses (to make the tops less like attractive as a perch) and/or a relocation of some of the houses.

The hawks are a sight to behold – but it would be a shame to lose the playful squirrels that have been a fixture of the park for, well, ever.

I responded:

I did see your comment (at the Times) and I thought it was really on target. It’s a really good idea. Love the squirrels at Washington Square and I know they have many fans. I’ll definitely run a post with your comment in it on Monday Tuesday.

Maybe we could start a campaign? Ask the Parks Department? Perhaps the NY Times would run something. The hawks have to eat something so it’s going to be a squirrel or a pigeon or a rat but I suppose we don’t have to make it so easy for them. Poor little squirrel you witnessed!

I don’t know how easy it is to move a squirrel box or modify or get them to use another one… That would be interesting to know.

Cathryn.
WSP Blog

What do you think?

Note: this photo an encounter of a hawk and squirrel at the Park was from a few years ago (pre-Violet, Bobby and Pip).

8 thoughts on “A reader's query: With 3 Hawks in the Hood, Can We give the Washington Square Park Squirrels a Little Assistance?

  1. Isn’t it strange how Bloomberg has his henchmen gassing geese in the City’s parks and supporting a proposal to ban feeding of pigeons while extolling hawks?

    The initial rationalization was that resident geese in Prospect Park (and elsewhere) cause airplane crashes. But that turns out to be untrue. Hawks, on the other hand …..

    Mitchel Cohen
    Brooklyn Greens/Green Party

  2. Thanks for highlighting this situation Cathryn.

    I realize that if it was pigeons or rats facing the same fate, I might not feel quite the same way…

    I can send you a picture of the hawk-on-top-of-the-box from last week if you’d like. Let me know.

  3. Hey Mitchel,

    Thanks for your comment! There’s quite a disparity in the treatment of wildlife it’s quite clear. And you’re right about the geese!

    Drewo,

    Sure – thanks for bringing up the idea.

    I suggest contacting Laura Simon Urban Wildlife Director at the Humane Society – it’s either [email protected] or [email protected] (I don’t have a moment to check right now!). And asking her how to remedy this with the boxes. She’s quite knowledgeable and very kind. Would you be able to do that?

    I try not to be speciesist. I know rats are more difficult to find favorable but each species has its life and place in the world. And I do like pigeons!

    Yes, please send the photo. Thanks!

    best,
    Cathryn.

  4. hawks hunting prey is a natural part of life. there are plenty of squirrels in new york city – i don’t think they need your protection. chill out.

  5. The hawks was not “hunting” its prey. It was sitting on top of the squirrel box peering into the entrance – sort of like waiting at the window of a take-out joint. Maybe Cathryn can post the images I sent to her.

    A redesign and maybe relocation of the squirrel boxes would be in order, otherwise there will be lots of abandoned squirrel boxes in WSP.

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