Pale Male & Lola Nest
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Jeffrey Kollbrunner - Wildlife & Nature Photography
Pale Male & Lola get a helping hand from NYC Audubon

Spring spruce-up came early for Pale Male and Lola, the red-tailed hawk pair nesting on the facade of 927 Fifth
Avenue. On January 29th, scaffold workers, directed by New York City Audubon, made adjustments to the nest
cradle mounted atop a 12th floor cornice of the building. Although the work done required only a few hours, it
could be critical to the birds’ ability to produce chicks this spring and in the years to come.

The beloved red-tailed hawk pair, have had no success breeding chicks since re-establishing their nest on the
cradle in spring 2005. Prior to that date Pale Male and his mate produced chicks each year from 1995 through
2004 –  a total of 26 hatchlings, of which 19 survived to fledge – making Pale Male one of the most successful
red-tailed hawks ever documented. Concerned by the correlation of lack of propagation and construction of the
cradle, NYC Audubon enlisted four red-tailed hawk experts around the country to study the situation and present

At the panel’s request, NYC Audubon arranged for two wildlife photographers, Jeff Kollbrunner and Donegal
Browne, to take photos of the interior of the nest from the building’s roof. Those Jan. 4 pictures showed that
stainless steel pigeon spikes extend above the nest material, posing a serious threat to successful embryo
development during the 5-6 week egg incubation period. Birds must roll their eggs so that fluids within the egg
are gently distributed and the tissues don’t stick together and form a dense mass. The erect spikes appear to
impede this critical step and also to interfere with the hen’s ability to make proper contact of the eggs to her
brood patch, keeping the eggs consistently warm. An observer reported that the hen’s brood patch appeared to
be rubbed raw this past nesting season.

Braced with that evidence and the panel’s recommendation to remove the spikes beneath the nest bowl, NYC
Audubon worked with various city authorities and the building’s coop board to obtain permission to remove the
spikes from the nest cradle. NYC Audubon is especially grateful to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who
helped obtain needed permits, and to board member Sandy Fiebelkorn, who worked tirelessly for months to
coordinate the whole process. The task was time-critical; early February marks the start of copulation.

There is no guarantee that this improvement of the birds’ habitat will mean chicks in mid-April, as the recent lack
of reproductive success may have other causes. However, as one NYC Parks & Recreation official said, “I’m
hawkish about what we’re doing.”

A view of the interior of Pale Male and Lola's nest viewed from the building's roof.  I captured this image in
early January 2008 at the request and arrangements of NYCA for further review and analysis. The pigeon
spikes are clearly visible protruding into the nest bowl and situated around the eggs.
A wider view of Pale Male and Lola's nest viewed from the building roof. It shows the full size of their nest
with the nest bowl located at the center with the three eggs that didn't hatch from this past 2007 nesting
Please Scroll down on this page to view Pale Male and Lola's nest, cradle and work day images.
Additional images can be viewed by clicking on the page number links on each page.
More Pale Male and Lola nest
cradle images click here...
Pale Male and Lola nest, cradle & work day images Pages: [1] [2] [3]
One of Pale Male and Lola's eggs from the 2007 nesting
season being retrieved from the nest.
One of Pale Male and Lola's eggs from the 2007 nesting
season being placed in a box for future analysis.
Another of the 2007 nesting seasons eggs retrieved from Pale
Male and Lola's nest.
The process of removing pigeon spikes from the nest
bowl of Pale Male and Lola.
A closer image as the pigeon spikes continue to be removed from the
nest bowl of Pale Male and Lola.
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