[Marxism] Biodiversity in NYC

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 8 17:14:13 MST 2004

Gains and Losses in NYC Biodiversity

The Earth Institute Global Exchange and the New York City Sustainable 
Development Initiative cordially invite you to a panel discussion titled 
"Gains and Losses for New York City's Biodiversity."

Some scholars believe that New York City has lost 600 species in the last 
100 years; yet in the past decade, many species have returned to the city. 
Learn about the research, what precipitated the loss and what has 
contributed to the return of some native species as well as the arrival of 
non-native species.

Columbia faculty as well as members of the Wildlife Trust and New York City 
Department of Parks and Recreation will discuss the impact of changes in 
biodiversity, the reasons for those changes and how to manage biodiversity 
and sustainable development on a local scale. They also will explore the 
possibility and practicality of sustaining biodiversity, given the 
congestion and development demands of New York .

The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. 
Contact Yana Chervona at (212) 854-3142 or yc587 at columbia.edu to RSVP.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: International Affairs Building , Dag Hammarskjold Lounge, 420 W. 118 


NY Times, December 8, 2004
New York Celebrities Evicted on Fifth Ave., Feathers and All

A nest constructed a decade ago by red-tailed hawks 12 stories above 
Central Park, creating an unlikely wildlife habitat that has delighted bird 
lovers from around the world, was removed yesterday, apparently by workers 
for its host co-op apartment building.

City officials and naturalists reacted with anger, even though there 
appeared to be little legal recourse for the nest's destruction.

Experts said that the fate of a family of uncommonly large and resilient 
birds, which have reproduced prolifically from the nest, had been thrown 
into doubt. So was that of the nest's most famous red-tailed resident, Pale 
Male, who arrived at the building in 1993 and, according to detailed 
records kept by several bird-watchers, has sired 23 youngsters.

"I am so outraged that they would do this without so much as a by your 
leave," said Mary Tyler Moore, who has lived for 15 years in the co-op at 
927 Fifth Avenue, at 74th Street, where the nest was built in 1993 above a 
cornice in clear view of Central Park.

"These birds just kept coming back to the edge of the building, and people 
kept coming back to see them," said Ms. Moore, who recalled at first 
craning her neck outside one of her windows to look up at the bottom of the 
nest. In more recent years, she said, she has strolled frequently across 
Fifth Avenue to Central Park for a better view.

"This was something we like to talk about: a kinder, gentler world, and now 
it's gone," Ms. Moore said last night.

Exactly why the nest was destroyed was unclear. A man who answered a call 
to 927 Fifth Avenue's management office last night said no one was 
available for comment.

But Ms. Moore said other residents of the building had objected to large 
bird droppings and, occasionally, the carcasses of pigeons - which hawks 
prey upon - that landed on the sidewalk in front of their lobby. She said 
her husband had attended a recent co-op board meeting, and had been 
informed of its all-but-unanimous decision to remove the nest, even though 
he had objected to the move.

Adrian Benepe, the commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, 
said his staff was unable yesterday to determine whether removing the nest 
violated any state or federal wildlife-protection laws, and would explore 
the matter again today.

"Our domain doesn't extend to the tops of people's roofs," Mr. Benepe said. 
"Regardless of legality, I am concerned about whether this was ethical, or 
the right thing to do."

The story of Pale Male and his offspring has been well documented. Marie 
Winn, whose 1998 book on the subject, "Red-Tails in Love," was the basis of 
a PBS documentary called "Pale Male," said yesterday that the nest had been 
removed once before, in 1993, the year it was built.

She said the nest was built amid metal spikes that were placed on the 
12th-floor cornice to discourage pigeons from roosting, and that the spikes 
had the unintended effect of providing a strong structure to brace a hawks' 
nest against the wind. After it was destroyed in 1993, Pale Male rebuilt, 
Ms. Winn said.

That experience, she said, might provide evidence that Pale Male will again 

But another of the bird's most ardent observers and proponents, Lincoln 
Karim, an engineer who has observed the nest for years with a telescope 
from Central Park, said he had seen workers take away the spikes yesterday.

Ms. Winn said the federal Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in the 1990's 
that the nest was covered by a treaty adopted in 1918 to protect migratory 
bird habitats and could not be destroyed.

But she said that more recent interpretations of the federal rules may 
allow people to interfere with migratory bird nests if they do so in the 
winter, when the nests are not used to raise offspring. Phone messages left 
for officials at the agency late yesterday were not answered.

The nesting season for Pale Male and his current mate, Lola, does not begin 
until January or later, and eggs are normally laid in the nest in March, 
Ms. Winn said.

But even now, Pale Male, Lola and other red-tailed hawks can be seen 
performing courtship rituals that involve flying in circles over Central Park.

Whether they will attempt to rebuild the nest at 927 Fifth Avenue remains 
in doubt, she said, particularly because its metal supports have been 
removed. Even if the nest is restored, she said, the experience of 1993 
does not bode well for the prospect that more offspring would be hatched 
next year.

Ms. Winn said two years passed before Pale Male produced offspring after 
the last time the nest was destroyed.

Louis Proyect
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