The nesting season is winding down.
Without question the Riverside Park hawks were the saddest experience. What happened has been widely reported in the media, all babies dead from rat poison. What I will treasure forever is the human experience, the joy these hawks gave people who saw them. It was an accessible nest. Stunned New Yorkers could watch everything. The hawks didn't exhibit fear of humans. Sometimes the immediacy was mesmerizing. We see pigeons and sparrows, starlings and grackles all the time, but not so often big, majestic birds in our faces.
People asked, "What are you looking at?" "Hawks, what kind?" "Do they have children?" "What do they eat?" (This, as hawk with rat flew over our heads.) "Can I look through your camera?" "Where did you buy your camera?" "Are there eggs in the nest?" The best comment from a child after looking through the camera lens at the hawk in nest, "Jesus Crisis!!"
There was also much beauty in the hawks' territory. I'd never before seen yellow magnolia blossoms or so many huge earthworms. One morning, when looking for warblers I found a sweet sleeping bat in the cherry blossoms. There were baby squirrels in a nearby tree. They eventually became, predictably, hawk brunch.
Despite the tragic end, this was a memorable hawk and human experience, a humbling experience observed while standing on the path for hours on end.