Friday, December 10, 2004

Homeless hawks

He was a movie star who resided on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side, drawing a devoted crowd of followers who gathered daily to catch a glimpse of him. But this week, that star -- a famous red-tailed hawk known as Pale Male who built his nest above a cornice of an apartment building overlooking Central Park and was the subject of a documentary movie -- was evicted.

The nest where Pale Male and his companions had resided since 1993 was removed along with the metal spikes that provided support for the nest and protected it from the wind. The action outraged bird lovers, including actress Mary Tyler Moore, who lives in the same building as the hawk. "I am just amazed at the insensitivity ... of people who have torn away a nest that had been used for 10 years by an extraordinary red-tail hawk," Moore said. The building's management company said of the nest removal, "It was a researched and thought-out decision on the part of the building."

Pale Male's unusual decision to take up residence in Manhattan and raise his young 12 stories above the park captivated bird watchers and inspired a book and a documentary film. On Wednesday, Pale Male and Lola, his female companion, could be seen circling the building and bringing back twigs to try to rebuild the nest, which bird watchers said would be futile without the metal spikes to support it.

Pale Male supporters were organizing a sunset vigil outside the apartment to urge the building to restore the nest.