The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

New Aerie Is Readied for Fifth Avenue Hawks
December 22, 2004

A stainless steel cradle designed to support a new nest for Pale Male and Lola, the red-tailed hawks of Fifth Avenue, is to be installed tomorrow on the co-op building where the hawks' former nest was removed on Dec. 7, according to the co-op's board and architect.

Naturalists and city officials yesterday praised the architect's design, and the co-op's timing, saying the cradle could resolve a dispute that has captivated bird lovers across the nation, while providing Pale Male and Lola with a safe roost from which to hatch fledglings next year.

"It perfectly melds our concerns for Pale Male with the concerns of the building," said E. J. McAdams, the executive director of New York City Audubon, who joined the architect, Dan Ionescu, on a visit to a Long Island machine shop where the framework was nearing completion late yesterday.

"We are all looking for Pale Male to come home for the holidays," Mr. McAdams said.

The new structure will incorporate steel pigeon spikes that were removed with the old nest when it was hauled down from a 12th floor cornice of the building, which is at 927 Fifth Avenue and overlooks Central Park at 74th Street. The spikes had prevented the hawks' nest, which grew over a decade to a width of eight feet across and to 400 pounds, from blowing away.

But the cradle also includes a guard rail and platform to prevent sticks and branches from falling to the sidewalk, a hazard posed by the old nest, according to some residents.

Mr. Ionescu, whose Manhattan firm was assisted by Beyer Blinder Belle, the architectural firm responsible for restoration projects at Ellis Island and Grand Central Terminal, said he and his staff had been working almost without interruption since last Friday.

"We had to make sure the end result would be a cradle where Pale Male would rebuild a nest, and that would assure the integrity of a landmark," he said. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission has already approved the design.

Mr. Ionescu said Audubon officials and naturalists had insisted that the protective guard rails not prevent Pale Male and Lola from fully extending their wings, which in Pale Male's case are more than four feet from tip to tip. That is why the rails will be contoured along the arch of the 12th-floor cornice.

Adrian Benepe, the city's parks commissioner, also remarked on the timing of the installation.

"I've been referring to it as a crèche," Mr. Benepe said.

But there is no assurance that Pale and Lola will immediately adopt the cradle as a new home, Mr. McAdams said.

Nonetheless, both hawks have been sighted flying over Central Park, and they show no inclination to go away. Mr. McAdams said they would have plenty of time to rebuild before their annual courtship rituals, usually in February. Lola typically lays her eggs in early March.

"We think the timing is perfect," Mr. McAdams said.

SOURCE: The New York Times

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