Visiting Pale Male
Even though I already saw Pale Male this morning as he flew lazy circles above a panicked flock of pigeons outside my office window, it was a pleasant day today, so I visited Pale Male and Lola's nest site early this afternoon. Unfortunately, neither bird was present. I sat alone on a green bench a small distance away from the hawk fan clique. They were crowded together on their usual bench directly across from the model sailboat pond (formally known as the Conservatory Water) in Central Park. The hawk fans appeared relaxed and almost bored as they talked and joked with each other, their telescopes packed away or standing as lonely sentinals, covered with black cloths. It was almost as though the recent hawk nest drama had never occurred.
After watching large numbers of people, English sparrows, rock doves ("pigeons") and eastern grey squirrels for almost an hour, I felt chilled so I moved on. I strolled around The Ramble and was surprised to find Pale Male sitting in a large tree near the bird feeders. These feeders, each containing either suet with peanuts, black-oil sunflower or thistle seeds, daily host scores of hungry House Finches, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches, while a small and late-migrating flock of American Robins whinnied overhead. Unexpectedly, these birds were not intimidated by the hawk's presence, even though he watched them intently, bobbing his head in anticipation from time to time.
Suddenly, Pale Male swept low through the bare trees and landed on another branch approximately 23 meters (75 feet) away. He stared at a squirrel that hung upside down on a tree truck, motionless, chattering an alarm. A minute later, Pale Male again flew through the trees and landed on a bare branch that was high over a paved walkway. None of the people below noticed him at all. He watched them for a moment but seemed to grow bored. A few moments later, he moved on again, disappearing through the trees in the direction of The Lake.
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