So it turns out that Ziggy, the 7-week-old baby red-tailed hawk that fell from its Seventh Avenue nest and crashed near the Ziegfeld Theater on West 55th Street last week, might be related to Pale Male — one of New York City’s most famous avian residents — after all.
Bird-loving readers will recall that Ziggy was widely believed to be a relative of Pale Male, the famous red-tailed hawk of Central Park whose nest on an opulent Fifth Avenue co-op enthralled the city in 2004. The city said that Pale Male “and his various mates” had over the years been parents to several dozen chicks who had survived and dispersed. But parks officials said it would be difficult to prove a genetic connection — and DNA tests were out of the question.
Lincoln Karim, a video engineer for the Associated Press and an animal lover, insisted that the baby hawk was “Pale Male’s grandchild,” and now city officials said they agree.
The Parks Department said in a news release this afternoon:
On June 13, Ziggy was found on the concrete streets of New York alone, pre-flight, and only able to hop and flutter. New Yorkers, including former Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis who created the Urban Park Rangers in 1979, quickly alerted the Parks Department of the downed fledgling. The Urban Park Rangers, the Parks Department’s force of naturalists and wildlife experts, and Bobby Horvath, a renowned wildlife rehabilitator, took the hawk into custody where under six days of watchful supervision, the baby hawk emerged from shock and strengthened its wings and flying capabilities by practicing in a flight cage.
On June 19, amid a crowd of reporters and curious passers-by, Ziggy was released at the Heckscher Ballfields in the southwest corner of Central Park. After peering at his surroundings and hopping for several minutes, Ziggy flew up into a nearby maple tree and started calling for his parents, Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte. Within 24 hours, Urban Park Rangers stationed in the area reported the loud screeching sounds of an adult red tail hawk and the appearance of Charlotte, his mother. Over the next several hours, Charlotte brought a deceased pigeon to the hungry Ziggy and Pale Male Jr. appeared soaring overhead to complete the family reunion.
Red-tailed hawks are native to New York City. Only about 25-50% of young hawks make it through the first year of life. The Parks Department urges New Yorkers to follow three simple rules when encountering wildlife in New York City: 1) Do not feed wildlife. 2) Report it. 3) Educate yourself.
“The story of Ziggy the baby hawk got a happy ending, thanks to the Urban Park Rangers, wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath, and the bonds between parents and offspring in the wild kingdom,” said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the City Department of Parks and Recreation.