The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

December 14, 2004 -- Score one for the hawks.

Supporters of the city's celebrity homeless birds have a handshake deal with the board of the ritzy co-op where the hawks used to live to restore their nest.

Pale Male and his mate, Lola, are poised to move back to their posh perch on a 12th-floor ledge at 927 Fifth Ave. as soon as renovations are complete.

After a meeting yesterday involving naturalists, park officials and building management, the board agreed to consult architects for advice on how to help the hawks reconstruct their nest, said John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society.

"They agreed to work with us and their architects to figure out a way to stabilize the nest there," Flicker said. "But time is of the essence. It needs to happen very fast."

The agreement comes after six days of squawking outside the building by hundreds of protesters, including a filmmaker who produced a documentary about the birds and a Post reporter dressed as a hawk. The bird's supporters also posted the phone numbers of the privacy-loving tenants on the Internet.

Members of the co-op board, headed by CNN anchor Paula Zahn's husband, Richard Cohen, could not be reached for comment on the deal.

But the building's only public supporter of the homeless couple, actress and animal lover Mary Tyler Moore, will believe it only after it happens.

"I've been watching them for 11 years," she said. "I just want those hawks to be safe. But I'm not confident about anything until I see it."

Flicker also stressed that the agreement was verbal and nonbinding.

The love nest, which has been home to Pale Male for nearly a dozen years, was unceremoniously removed last week.

Board members claimed they were worried about the birds jamming twigs into the brickwork, saying it could damage the facade of the building. They also cited the hawks' habit of killing pigeons and dropping the carcasses in front of the building.

But others speculated that the tenants' real motive involved the scores of New Yorkers and tourists who gather with telescopes to watch the hawks from Central Park. The residents fear the gawkers focus on their windows when activities in the nest get too dull.

When the nest was removed, workers also took down a set of metal spikes - pigeon deterrents - the hawks used to anchor their home, making it difficult to rebuild.

The architects will consider putting back the spikes or installing a special platform for the birds.

During yesterday's meeting, participants walked onto the roof to get a better look at the perch as the hawks circled above. Later, Pale Male landed on a ledge to check out his once and future digs.

The experts say the birds have returned daily to rebuild the nest, only to have their efforts blown away. The hope is that the birds will see the new anchor when it is in place and try once more. Experts think it will take a few days to rebuild a nest once it is under way in earnest.

Flicker said if the birds cannot return to their nest soon, their mating cycle would be adversely affected.

SOURCE: The New York Post

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