Pale Male & Lola Nest
Jeffrey Kollbrunner - Wildlife & Nature Photography
Pale Male and Lola nest, cradle & work day images Pages:    
Parks, NYC Audubon, and Leading Hawk Experts Restore Red-Tail Hawks
Pale Male and Lola’s Fifth Avenue Coop
The Parks Department, NYC Audubon and red-tailed hawk experts today announced the
restoration of the nest of the legendary red-tail hawks Pale Male and Lola on the 12th floor cornice
of 927 Fifth Avenue. Concerned that this historically reproductive avian pair has failed to hatch
chicks since re-establishing their nest on the Fifth Avenue building in the spring of 2005, Parks and
New York City Audubon recently spearheaded a restoration of the duo’s nest and positive signs of
copulation have since been observed.
“Over the years, the story of Pale Male and Lola has enthralled New Yorkers and nature lovers
all over the world; we are thrilled to be able help make the Fifth Avenue nest a friendlier
environment.” said NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Red-tail hawks are
native to New York City and this spring we are hopeful that new chicks are born to continue the cycle
With the permission of the appropriate City agencies and the building’s co-op board, scaffold
workers, under the direction of New York City Audubon, successfully removed stainless steel pigeon
spikes protruding from the nest cradle that extended above the nest material and posed a potential
threat to embryo development during the 5-6 week egg incubation period.
The spikes were discovered through NYC Audubon-commissioned photographs of the interior
of the nest, taken from the building’s roof by wildlife photographers Donegal Browne and Jeff
Kollbrunner. The spikes appeared to impede the bird’s ability to roll their eggs to evenly distribute
embryonic fluids and tissues. The spikes also appeared to interfere with the hen’s ability to make
proper contact with the eggs to her brood patch and keep the eggs consistently warm.
A study of three retrieved eggs laid in Spring 2007 by Dr. Ward Stone, Head of the NYS Wildlife
Pathology Unit, revealed that toxicity was not a preventative factor in reproduction success.
The photographs led the panel of red-tailed hawk experts assembled by NYC Audubon to
recommend the removal of the pigeon spikes. Panel members were Ron Austing, Dr. Keith Bildstein,
John Blakeman and Dr. Heinz Meng. The repair of the nest’s cradle could be critical to the birds’
ability to produce chicks this spring and in the years to come.
"I'm so pleased to learn that this crucial project went forward and came to some useful
completion -- just in time, too,” said John Blakeman, one of the panel experts and the author of NYC
Audubon’s report. “I commend everyone who brought all of this together, especially the people at
NYC Audubon. It's one thing to educate the public on natural resources and conservation problems,
which Audubon intelligently does. But it's another matter to step forward, commit institution
resources, and actually get things done.”
Pale Male and Lola are now exhibiting promising reproductive success this spring. Over the
last week, Pale Male has been seen delivering pine sprigs to the nest, a hopeful sign. In addition,
over the past few nights, Pale Male and Lola have both been seen alternating sitting for hours at a
time on the nest, leading experts to believe that perhaps one egg has already been laid.
Prior to Spring 2005, 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.
“NYC Audubon has taken a brave and difficult step. No matter what the outcome -- and you
never know in the unpredictable world of nature --we Pale Male and Lola fans will be forever
grateful to them,” said Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love: Pale Male's Story.
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, but we have cleared the way.
|PRESS RELEASE 3/12/2008: The Parks Department and NYC Audubon
provide updated information regarding Pale Male & Lola's nest modifications,
egg analysis and more...