Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Red-tailed hawks' eviction has New Yorkers up in arms

THE OBSERVER , NEW YORK

For more than a decade, the Fifth Avenue Hawks have brought a touch of the wild to Manhattan's concrete canyons. The pair of predatory birds, which captured the hearts of a city, inspired a documentary, a book and reams of newsprint.

They have also inspired thousands of tourists and locals alike, who thrilled to see the birds hunting in Central Park and nesting on a ledge on one of New York's most elite apartment buildings. But now the residents who shared their building with the red-tailed hawks have destroyed their nest, leaving New York's most famous feathered citizens homeless.

In a city prone to navel-gazing, the strike was greeted with an explosion of outrage. Protests have been organized, stories splashed across newspapers and, in a move typical of New Yorkers, lawyers summoned. Hawks who live at an address such as 927 Fifth Avenue cannot be evicted without a fight.

"I am devastated. I am livid with anger that anyone could do such a thing as this," said Marie Winn, author of the bestseller Red Tails In Love, which chronicled their lives since their arrival in New York 13 years ago.

Dubbed Pale Male and Lola, the birds' attracted a fanatical group of supporters.

Now the same people are gathering daily to protest. On Friday night, as rain poured, a hardy group of 30 or so protesters carried signs saying "Shame on 927" and heckled any of the hyper-wealthy residents who appeared. One sign asked motorists to honk in support: it was a cacophony every time a traffic light turned red.

"The people in that building are heartless," said elderly Lee Stinchcomb, sheltering under a large umbrella, "I am a huge fan of the hawks and have been coming to see them for 10 years. It is just unbelievable this could happen."

Those sentiments have echoed across the media. The New York Times devoted an editorial to the matter.

"The hawks have gone out of their way to learn to live with us. The least the wealthy residents of 927 Fifth Avenue could have done was learn to live with the hawks," the paper fumed.

In the tabloid New York Post, columnist Andrea Peyser was blunt: "Evict the evil bird haters!" she wrote.

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