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Avian-On-Avian Violence

One of four red-tailed hawks together making a racket in Tompkins Square Park.

The Lo-Down spotted a hawk devouring a pigeon in Seward Park yesterday — and so did much of the Lower East Side, apparently. The bird of prey dined unperturbed as a gaggle of excited onlookers took pictures of nature in all its brutality. When The Local spoke to the executive director of New York City Audubon last week regarding the hawks in Tompkins Square Park, he said that it was likely the newborns were venturing far beyond the green space where they were raised. Might this hawk in Seward Park once have nested in Tompkins?

With Hawks Grown, Rat Poison is Back in Tompkins

Tompkins Square Juvenile Red-Tailed HawkRobert Schmunk The Parks Department has begun placing rat poison in Tompkins Square Park, a measure it previously declined to use because of the presence of red- tailed hawks.

The city has unleashed a new weapon in the fight against the rodent menace in Tompkins Square Park.

After destroying rodent hideouts and deploying mint-scented trash bags, new garbage cans, and “Feed a pigeon, breed a rat” signage, this week the Parks Department began baiting the park with poison.

Previously, the Parks Department had said it did not use rat poison due to the danger it posed to the red-tailed hawks that dine on the critters. But now, new Parks Department policy allows the agency to use poison when hawks are not in the fledgling season, which is roughly from February to August. Read more…

More Rats in the Park? Thank the Hawk

tompkins hawk on her half-built nestCarol Vinzant A red-tailed hawk in its nest in Tompkins Square Park earlier this year. Officials said that they stopped placing rat poison in the park to protect birds of prey, which feed on the rodents.

Lately the hoards of rats scurrying all over Tompkins Square Park have disgusted local parents taking their children to the playground. Now, an ironic — and unwitting — culprit has emerged as the reason for the boom in rats: red-tailed hawks.

The Parks Department told The Local Monday that it stopped placing rat poison in the East Village’s green oasis in April because it could pose a danger to the feathered carnivores, which feed on the rodents.

“We are not placing rat poison in Tompkins Square because of the hawk,” said Philip Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Department. “Instead we have replaced the garbage baskets with garbage drums, preventing rats from accessing its insides.”

The red-tailed hawk was first noticed this month on EV Grieve keeping vigil over the park, and occasionally feasting on a rat. Around the same time, a new parent group, Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association, sounded the alarm on the rats in The Villager, saying the critters were even burrowing in the sandbox.

As it turns out, the two occurrences are related. A poisoned rat can be a fatal feast for a hawk, especially a juvenile one.
Read more…

N.Y.U. Hawk Cam is Live

Bird-fanciers can visit The Times to watch a live video feed of the hawk currently nesting outside the office of N.Y.U. President John Sexton on Washington Square Park. — The Local