Red-tailed Hawk, "Pale Male", on perch over Fifth Avenue
Photo Credits
All photos:
Lincoln Karim/
'03 May 11

Editor's Notes

For more wonderful pictures of this famous Manhattanite, and of other NYC subjects, avian and otherwise, visit Lincoln Karim's

Fig. 1 shows Pale Male's nest, on an apartment building on Fifth Avenue in the 70's, in which he has raised numerous families, with several wives. Fig. 3 shows him with "a very brave house finch".

Fig. 4 is the telescope used by Mr. Karim to capture some of his shots; if you visit Central Park's boat pond at this time of year, you will likely see several telescopes set up and trained on the nest, and be given an opportunity to look through one, if you want.

"Pale Male" first appeared in Manhattan ten years ago, as an naive youth. His subsequent triumphs and tragedies are engagingly chronicled in Marie Winn's best-seller, "Red-tails In Love" (one critic called it "Dr. Zhivago with feathers"), and on her website.

Following is Ms. Winn's introduction of Pale Male, from her book:

"The name of the game in birdwatching is telling one species of bird from another. This one's a chickadee; that one's a nuthatch. But only by marking birds in some way, usually by attaching bands to their legs, can individual birds within a species be distinguished from each other. Generally one robin looks like any other, or one downy woodpecker, or one red-tailed hawk.

Every so often it happens that a particular bird displays some feature that makes it recognizable as an individual...Such a one was the red-tailed hawk that arrived in Central Park during my first winter as a Regular. He had a feature so distinctive he could always be identified not just as a red-tailed hawk but as himself, a particular, individual bird...His head was almost white...the breast and belly were almost white. He wasn't an albino, his eyes were too brown; just a very pale red-tail...The Regulars began to call him Pale Male.

He was still a browntail that spring, too young for love. Nevertheless and notwithstanding, when the female (this one with a bright red tail) showed up at the beginning of March, Pale Male courted and won her."

Visit for updated reports on Pale Male, and on urban birding!


All content Copyright 2003 on behalf of its creators; please obtain permission for anything besides private, noncommercial use.

This page requires a 6.0+ browser for the pictures/text to display correctly.


Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3