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Red-tails in love : Pale Male's story--a true wildlife drama in Central Park

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  726 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Updated Edition—Ten Years Later

The scene of this enchanting (and true) story is the Ramble, an unknown wilderness deep in the heart of New York's fabled Central Park. There an odd and amiable band of nature lovers devote themselves to observing and protecting the park's rich wildlife. When a pair of red-tailed hawks builds a nest atop a Fifth Avenue apartment house across
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 30th 1999 by Vintage (first published March 17th 1998)
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Rating details
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Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A great read - I enjoyed it so much I basically read it in one sitting. An uplifting story about a male hawk and his various mates as they build their nest each year on a ledge of an apartment building near Central Park. These hawks bring together experienced birdwatchers along with others who are drawn in by the unlikely magic of this ritual in such a busy place. The author shares her joys and worries about the hawks as well as other bird sightings and pairings throughout the park. A great read ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: new yorkers
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was sort of cute. There were some weird terminology things but maybe it's just because it was written 15 years ago? She keeps saying "telescopes" when I think she probably means "spotting scopes." And she rarely says "birders," they're "birdwatchers."

For someone who actually is a birder, some of the explanations (especially in the beginning) are a little tedious and the descriptions of birds and people a little precious. And she anthropomorphizes the hell out of the birds but at least
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a great book. It was an easy read, and I was readily drawn into the many stories of the birds, people, and hawks of Central Park. I loved that the book wasn't just about Pale Male (who is awesome and a total hawk celebrity) but also about the community of people who came to love and respect (and advocate!) for him. If it was just a book about hawks, it wouldn't have been the same!
Laura Lewakowski
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Especially since I was planning a trip to NYC. I actually spotted red-tails in Central Park two days in a row, right where the author said they would be. AND I found the official Central Park bird log at the boat house and entered my sighting! Great book for New York nature lovers.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. The human aspect made it even more interesting. Loved learning about all the wildlife in NYC in Central Park
Susan Gallagher
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how could you not love this story! Just as much about Central Park birders and other wildlife as it is about the 'tails. But Winn's passion makes it a worthwhile read.
Lynn Pribus
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Someone has established on of the "Little Libraries" in a park area of our neighborhood and I've picked up some good books there This one seemed very pertinent there in all the trees with birds and creatures, but I faded after a couple chapters.

I guess I don't care a whole lot about Central Park in NYC and I'd already read about Pale Male -- the famous hawk. I'm more interested in our own woods. My penpal in Holland was amazed at the wildlife we've had right in our own yard. Squirrels, chipmunks
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
Delightful! I love reading true stories of wildlife. The anthropomorphism bits were especially wonderful because I indulge in it so often.
Winn writes spectacularly, leveling science with heart and tidbits and character elegantly.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Version I read called just Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park
Megan Wood
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. My mother was a big birder and went on many bird counts in our area.
Cheryl Cameron
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! Great book about all birds, especially the birds of prey and their urban lives. I loved it!
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Linden by: Interest in the topic

Winn tells the true story of the arrival and establishment of red-tail hawks which, even now, continue to nest in New York City's Central Park neighborhood. She sets these events in the historical context of the origin of Central Park and its changes over time, the informality and importance of the Bird Register, and those who noticed when red-tails arrived. Most remarkable was--and is--the evolution of interested people into a network of watchers and advocates for wild birds in the heart of a c
Lea Ann
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was ok, didn't quite get through all of it.
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 poundi ...more
Jan 02, 2009 rated it liked it
what i liked about this book was the information about where to see birds and animals in the park. i've lived in ny a while and wandered central park a fair amount and though i don't think i'd really enjoy becoming a regular in the break-of-dawn park tour circuit, there is some good intel in here. if nothing else just learning about the bird register for future reference was good.
i was a little less into the "here's a cast of quirky lovable characters" parts, of which there are a lot. i appreci
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The bottom line in all this is procreation. They've got to keep the species going. In the natural world many individuals are sacrificed in that process . . . . We're about the only species that puts so little value on the whole picture. We put it on individuals--that's what's so damned important for us. In the rest of Nature, individuals are superfluous. The species must endure." (p. 244); Len Soucy, founder of the Raptor Trust in NJ)

Marie Winn writes with wit, knowledge, and insight about the
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this very much! Although the title suggests that the whole story is about a pair of mated red-tailed hawks, the book is really much more than that. The author is part of a group of New Yorkers who are avid Central Park birdwatchers. There’s even a journal – the Bird Register, kept in a boathouse – where observations are recorded. Stories about owls, killdeer, orioles, woodpeckers, and more fill the pages, and of course, the excitement of a pair of nesting red-tailed hawks, told over th ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm reviewing the older edition of this book, which was published in 1998.

Overall, I thought this was a nice, fuzzy kind of story to read. I thought the way that Winn sprinkled in (at times heavily, but still okay) facts about birding was both informative and fun to read. The Regulars were endearing in how much they cared for the birds, and I liked reading the little excerpts from the Bird Register. (I also melted at the story of the man who named all the ducks 'Missy')

I'm a little unsure as to
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming book about a group of people who become enthralled with bird-watching in Central Park, and then obsessed with a pair of breeding red-tails nesting on a building along said park. What I loved about this was how deeply the group of birders came to care about the fate of these birds and their chicks (going out in shifts, even before sunrise, to keep an eye on the nest through spotting scopes) -- and how they drew in so many bystanders, tourists, building managers, and even celebrities (W ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Who would ever think that a pair of Red-tailed Hawks could draw in so many people from such different walks of life? And in New York City’s Central Park of all places. Nature nuts, American Museum of Natural History scientists and researchers, apartment building supers, Mary Tyler Moore, dog walkers, high-rent folks, low-rent folks, even Woody Allen makes an appearance........this whimsical tale involves pretty much every echelon of city folks. Delight and drama accompany every page, all ably an ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable story about the red-tailed hawks that have been nesting near/in Central Park over the last decade or so. However, more than just an account of the hawks, it really is a tale of the perseverance of wildlife in urban areas. There is plenty of information here on lots of other migratory birds, and even butterflies. It's also a testament to the lengths people will go to to create and maintain their own connection with nature, which I believe is necessary for emotional well-bein ...more
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: birds
Ok, another bird book... this time featuring birds of prey in an urban environment, my favorite type of bird. I was full of hawk facts after I finished this book (and I love that). My only dislike of this book was Marie Winn's writing style occasionally verging straight into twee. There's one scene where she's watching birds and a baby raccoon walks right over her, leaving muddy footprints on her white knee socks. White knee socks? This cuter-than-cute detail actually helped me out: okay, Winn, ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoors-nature
Ms. Winn was drawn into the saga of Pale Male, a splendid red-tailed hawk spotted on a high building near one of New York’s most famous parks. Over the course of months, she became an amateur bird-watcher, along with dozens of others. Her book records her delighted enchantment with the bird’s progress as mate and father, the friendships she made with others just as interested in the avian’s behavior and the gradually increasing media attention to the status of Pale Male and all the other wild an ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is such a wonderful book, about the birds and other wildlife that inhabit NYC's Central Park, and about the devoted people who care so deeply for them. Day after day, these people keep track of the goings-on among the birds throughout various areas of the park. When a pair of Red-tailed Hawks build a nest on a very tall building near the park, they become the main attraction.

I loved following the story of the hawks, and reading about all of the other birds in the park. Another great thing a
Jacquelyn Fusco
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was delightful! For someone whose not already into birding, there's every reason this book should be boring, but it's not. It's really engaging and wonderful. I have been watching Youtube videos of bird songs and want to get out to Central Park as soon as possible (maybe tomorrow, I'm about an hour away). I've got some very dingy little binoculars.
I thought it was going to be a novel, but it's more like a true story.
The idea of birding seems kind of boring...sitting and just...watching...
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful story about Pale Male, the now famous red-tailed hawk that claimed New York City’s Central Park as his territory, attracted a mate and help parent a family, not once but many times over the course of the six years covered by the book.

Red-tailed hawks normally choose private, out-of-the-way locations to nest, but Pale Male adapted to life in the "city that never sleeps," although somehow, I think that the hawks actually did find time to sleep, even in the Big Apple.

Winn’s book also deta
Sally Atwell Williams
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I could not believe how many birds come to Central Park, in the heart of New York City, on their migrations up and down the east coast. It is wonderful. The book is wonderful. Not only is it about the Red-Tails Hawks who reside there for many months every year, but it is about all the birds who come to the enjoyment of the bird watchers, and the hawk watchers. It is well written by a journalist, Marie Winn, who became a part of the Central Park bird watchers, who record all sightings writing the ...more
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Quick read about a few red tailed hawks that set up camp in Central Park - I found the stories intriguing and fun to read. Especially since we put bird feeders up in the front yard and I've been learning which birds come to visit (many of the same ones that inhabit Central Park in the winter!). As I usually make a stop in Central Park on our annual trip to NY, I also enjoyed the stories about park happenings, and good sites to visit. I think any nature reader, or bird lover, will enjoy this book ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
My book club picked this book, which was handy because my mother already had a copy. It's a charming story--not so much for the birds of Central Park, which are interesting enough, but because of the diverse and bizarrely dedicated group of birdwatchers who frequent the park every day. It's refreshing to remember that Central Park is huge, and does still have some "wild" wildlife. It's also extremely heartening to know that so many New Yorkers care about that wildlife. This is a nice story about ...more
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
272 pgs


I was on a fishing vacation with Bill at Montauck Point where there were alot of birds while reading this book. I have been dabbling in bird watching for awhile and this book got me more exciting about bird watching. People were aware of the hawks and their nest in Manhattan, because there was alot of news reporting on it, but it was great to hear Winn telling the story. She also became one of the birders in Central Park and that part of the book was facinating. Right here in Central Pa
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Marie Winn writes a column on nature and birdwatching for the Wall Street Journal. Married to the film-maker and palindromist Allan Miller, she spends part of every day in Central Park.
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