Beloved East Village Hawks Forced Into Flight


Bird-watchers in the East Village are dismayed over a condo owner’s repeated attempts to remove a red-tailed hawk’s nest from the building the birds have called home for more than a year.

The nest, which two hawks built in February 2014 outside of a seventh-floor window at Christodora House on Avenue A and East 9th Street near Tompkins Square Park, was replaced with an array of small bird spikes this February 6 — leaving their flock of adoring neighborhood birders filled with despair. Then, on February 8, the birds — named Christo and Dora (get it?) — were spotted trying to rebuild the nest by photographer Laura Goggin, who has documented the hawks’ stay in the East Village since their arrival in November 2013. But on February 10, the rehabilitated nest had been removed again, leaving Christo and Dora homeless for a second time.

“On [February 8] I spent about two hours watching [the hawks] completely rebuild the nest,” Goggin, who has voraciously photographed the birds, wrote on her blog. On February 11, “the birds made attempts to take sticks to the nest again, but the sticks were removed,” Goggin wrote. “At one point near the end of the day, both birds circled over Avenue B and screamed. I wanted to scream, too!”

“The location they were in was just perfect for watching them,” nature photographer Michael Natale tells the Voice. “I have a complete record of the fledglings and the nest.”

Natale says people would gather every day to keep track of the hawks and to watch Christo and Dora’s babies grow up. “It’s an amazing thing to see; it’s a shame that’s not going to happen this year,” says Natale, a longtime resident who maintains a map of Tompkins Park’s trees. “They’ll probably find a nest on top of a building. It’s fine for the birds. But for the birdwatchers, they’re all going to be very unhappy.”

While some are disappointed to see the hawks shooed away, it looks like this may have been an altruistic act on the birds’ behalf. East Village blog EV Grieve found a New York City Department of Buildings application filed by the co-op, asking for city approval to start renovations on the property. “I’m assuming the building management is probably trying to prevent the birds from nesting now, rather than dealing with any trouble later,” says Goggin, in an email to the Voice.

The Voice called the building’s management representatives but has not yet received a response.

“Although I’m really disappointed we won’t be seeing a hawk family there like we did last year, it will be interesting to see where the birds choose as an alternate site,” says Goggin. “All I can do is keep watching them and hope to see them come up with a plan B.”

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