Jeni's Reviews > Red-Tails in Love: PALE MALE'S STORY--A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park

Red-Tails in Love by Marie Winn
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May 31, 11

Read in April, 2011

I've been infatuated this spring with the the NYU Hawk Cam: Live from the Nest--at Bobst Library, where two fine red tail hawks made their nest on a window ledge of the top floor of the library and a streaming camera has given us a window into the birds' habits and manners. I've daily spied on them with fascination. When their little hawkling hatched and I first laid eyes of him--so tiny and fragile and eating the entrails of New York City rat fed to him by his mother--I swooned, my heart pounding in my chest. I knew I needed more of this in my life, knew I needed to follow-up my hawk voyeurism with hawk study and knowledge, which is how I came to this book.

Red Tail Hawks in Love is a delight. Not only did I learn about red tail hawks, but also about the first known nesting of red tails in New York City (only 19 years ago) and about the bird wonderland that is Central Park. In the spring Central Park is home to over 230 different species of birds, making it one of the most prime birding locales in the country. Author Marie Winn, a nature columnist for the Wall Street Journal, tells the story of how she came to learn about and adore the bird treasures of Central Park. The story of the nesting red tail hawks carries the dramatic weight of the book, but side stories of owls, warblers, loons and bird escapees from the Bronx Zoo are told with equal dexterity and enthusiasm. I wouldn't have guessed a birding book could be such a page turner! The book details a fair share of factual information about hawks, birds and Central Park, but shouldn't be confused for a scientific tome. As you can tell from the corny title, there is also a fair amount of anthropomorphizing of bird behavior, but I didn't find it excessive; in fact, I would argue it helps make the subject more accessible to the lay birder/lay animal enthusiast like myself.

I'd like to report that since reading this novel, I have been visiting Central Park more often with my eyes and ears are alert for bird activity (even as this spring season concludes and the migratory birds depart). I am likewise alert on my jogs and dog walks in Prospect Park. I'm slowly pinpointing distinct colors and beaks and songs and learning names. I'm thrilled to be awake to the incredible world of nature right here in New York City!

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