Red-Tailed Mama Hawk Violet Rescued Christmas Eve at Washington Square – Recap of the Story Thus Far

Update!

Violet and Bobby on nearby Fifth Ave terrace early afternoon 12/24
Violet on WSP tree pre-capture (yes, that’s a rat)
Bobby on Park light (I love this shot)

The saga of Red-tailed hawk Mama Violet and the leg band that was causing her troubles began last spring prior to the birth of Pip. The leg band had been placed by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) some time ago. Recent reports were sounding pessimistic as to how Violet would ultimately fare. So surprised I was to learn that Christmas Eve (right before the caroling began at 5 p.m. by the Arch), Violet was rescued by Long Island wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath with the help of Pondove (the online chat room moderator) who alerted them to how serious Violet’s condition was getting and helped scope out the park and Heather who writes the Roger_Paw Blog who and posted an excellent account. Photos above were taken by her (many more at her site) on 12/24 before the rescue.

They first tried last Tuesday with no luck and Bobby Horvath said “I’ll be back” and they returned Saturday. They were about to leave when Violet came near enough to capture. This occurred near the Holley statue (Western end of the park).

I wrote back in May about the concerns with NYU’s decision (Violet & Bobby chose the window outside NYU President John Sexton’s office as the site of their nest) to call in the DEC after initially receiving advice from the Horvaths. The DEC then overruled that advice which was to capture Violet from the ledge outside John Sexton’s office and remove the band immediately before it could cause trouble (which it then did). I remember all too well the story of Hal, the Central Park Coyote (who unfortunately died at the hands of the DEC, link below).

Previously at WSP Blog: NYS DEC, Mama Hawk Violet’s Rescue, and Remembering Hal the Central Park Coyote May 12th, 2011

The Horvath’s recount the DEC intervention in today’s Daily News story. An NYU spokesperson quoted takes umbrage with this being brought up.

The couple, which runs the nonprofit rescue group Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, believes Violet’s injuries would not be as severe if she had been captured and treated months ago.

The Horvaths question the wisdom of officials from New York University and the state Department of Environmental Conservation who decided not to intervene last spring. At the time, Violet was caring for her hatchling, Pip, in a nest perched on the window ledge of an NYU building.

A real-time Web feed broadcast images of the hawk family around the world, turning Violet into a global sensation.

But in recent months, her condition has worsened, Cathy Horvath said.“She was getting skinny,” she said. “This whole situation may have been prevented if we could have intervened earlier.”

“Given how concerned everyone was about the hawk’s well-being, it would be a pity to hear people start indulging in recriminations now,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman.

Bobby Horvath, Cathy Horvath & Violet
Violet Captured

You always hope that institutions and governmental agencies will learn from these experiences but somehow their comments and attitudes don’t leave one with much hope that this will be the case.

The New York Times story, Violet the Injured Red-tailed Hawk Captured for Treatment in N.Y.C. Park:

Violet, the red-tailed hawk who has been suffering from a crippling leg injury, was captured for treatment on Saturday in Washington Square Park.

According to the blogger Roger_Paw, who posted a detailed account of it, the Long Island-based raptor rehabilitators Robert and Cathy Horvath of the nonprofit Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, netted her on the ground after she had flown down from a tree branch to retrieve her prey.

The Horvaths will take Violet, the mother of Pip, to a veterinarian to determine the best course of action for her necrotic right leg, which for more than a year has been swollen around metal wildlife band and which may require amputation. Her good leg — the left one — appears to have been infected with what is known as bumblefoot, a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics.

The capture brings one aspect of the hawk drama full circle: the Horvaths had offered to rescue Violet in May, when her injured leg seemed to be worsening, and they went to observe her from the president’s office at New York University, which looks out onto her nest.

N.Y.U. opted to turn the matter over to the state, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation brought in its own medical rescue team, which concluded that she was coping with her injury well enough that the risks entailed in trying to capture Violet and week-old Pip outweighed the benefits.

The Times coverage has been great with the HawkCam and it’s clear their reporters and readers really bonded with this story. However, they definitely glossed over the details about what happened (in relation to decision not to intervene by DEC/NYU against Horvaths’ advice) in pretty much all accounts of what happened until this article.

There have been a number of inaccurate statements put forth by “experts” (I’m not referring to the Horvaths) along the way. For example, stating that the window for the egg to hatch had passed (egg then hatched), Bobby and Violet will only leave food for Pip for a few weeks and then he’s on his own and may not make it (it ended up being much longer than that), the band has not caused Violet’s leg trouble, etc. etc.

Nonetheless, in light of where we are now, this was the best outcome. I definitely had tears in my eyes reading and seeing the photos from Roger_Paw’s account of what transpired and I’m sure many people did who felt so close to this story. I missed the Christmas Eve caroling and am wondering if I would have encountered the rescue which Heather from Roger_Paw said happened around 4:47 p.m. (Caroling began at 5!)

Wishing the best for Violet and thank you to all who assisted in her rescue!

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p.s. There is a new female who has swooped in at the park (amazing how that works – they sense the vacuum?) and Urban_Hawks Blog has a great recounting and excellent photos here with “New Girl in Town.

Previous coverage at WSP Blog:

Update on Mama Hawk Violet November 29, 2011

Pip, Young Red-tailed hawk, getting ready to leave the nest above Washington Square June 21, 2011

NYS DEC, Mama Hawk Violet’s Rescue, and Remembering Hal the Central Park Coyote May 12th, 2011

Baby Hawk Spotted! On Heels of “Riverside Dad” Hawk Death, Can We Rid Washington Square of Hazardous Rodenticide? May 6, 2011

— note: Parks Dept did rid WSP of rodenticide which has been great!

Violet and Bobby HawkCam Watch April 8, 2011

All Violet, Bobby & Pip coverage here.

Violet and Bobby on the Nest April 2011
Violet and Pip (June 2011)

Photos 1-3: Roger_Paw Blog
Photo 4: Pondove
Photo 5:
Photo 6: Christopher James/NYU
Photo 7: D. Bruce Yolton/Urban Hawks Blog