I have written before of the intersection between the human need for entertainment and the bird need to live bird lives and make more birds: it partakes of both the compelling and the ridiculous at the best of times.
And now is the best of times. The extended winter of our cold, damp discontent is made glorious summer by the antics of a couple of Red-tailed Hawks.
You see Christo and Dora, the insurgent New York City Red-tail celebrities who bid fair to replace Pale Male (or whoever he is) like yesterday’s meme, got themselves in a bit of a tangle. On Dora’s part this was literal – she went to rehab, fought another lady hawk, and injured her wing badly enough that she had to go back to rehab (if Andy Cohen hasn’t called her yet I am going to be very disappointed). Christo, like a sensible Darwinian creature, has been trying it out with a number of other candidates to put eggs in his nest.
Seriously. This has been reported extensively in my favorite neighborhood blog, E.V. Grieve, and fair enough – a mid-sized raptor fight is pretty notable even in Tompkins Square Park. But it also got picked up by the Post, and fine, they have many pages to fill and only so many available font sizes… and then The Cut got hold of it. And People. And Cosmopolitan. You thought I was joking about Andy Cohen, didn’t you?
So what does this mean for birds? As always, the anthropomorphization (to say nothing of the slut-shaming) flows thick and heavy through the public reaction – take a shot every time you see the word ‘homewrecker’ and you too could get a call from Andy Cohen! And to ‘raise awareness’ is such a nebulous thing. But would the bloggers, readers, and local residents who’ve been drawn into this saga sit still if Dora was threatened by rat poison, as befell so many of Pale Male’s mates? Will they think a little longer, feel a little more personal connection when they see a headline about threats to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act? Can I finally sell a think piece about this? There are so many opportunities.
Image: A Red-tailed Hawk from Pennsylvania that’s about to learn about the downside of appearing in stock photos, courtesy of the US FWS.