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Thread: Bryant Park

  1. #1

    Default Bryant Park

    April 17, 2003
    In Bryant Park, Hawks Are Circling and the Pigeons Are Nervous

    A hawk employed to scare the pigeons at Bryant Park appeared to buzz and at least startle Kazuya Hasegawa, a parkgoer, on Tuesday. Falcons may soon join the project.

    In Tuesday morning a man with a shaggy blond beard arrived in Bryant Park and began shaking a dead chick in the air, smiling giddily to himself. Passers-by steered clear.

    Then, like a sign from the heavens, a large brown bird of prey fluttered down and landed on the man's gloved hand.

    "Oh my god, it's an eagle!" one woman shrieked. "No, it's a Harris hawk," said the man, who was neither a wandering lunatic nor a seer but a licensed falconer named Thomas Cullen. He and his hawk were scaring — not eating — pigeons, which have been flocking to the park in growing numbers and treating it like a vast private outhouse.

    "One of the main complaints we receive is people who get hit by pigeon droppings in the park," said Jerome Barth, operations director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation. Poisoning pigeons in the park — what you might call the Tom Lehrer solution — is illegal. So the founder of the corporation, Daniel A. Biederman, did some research and learned that city officials in London use falcons to keep pigeons away from the Tower of London.

    Mr. Biederman looked around to see if someone could do the same thing in New York, and discovered Mr. Cullen, who suggested a weeklong experiment that started on Monday. If it succeeds, he will continue scaring pigeons on a more permanent basis, with help from other falconers, Mr. Cullen said.

    His modus operandi is simple. The hawks — which he uses for hunting squirrels, rabbits and pheasants near his home in Goshen, N.Y. — are trained to follow him like dogs. Starting about 9 a.m., he walks slowly around the park's rim, luring the bird with dead chicks to make sure it trails him. The hawk could easily kill the slow-moving pigeons, but is not trained to do so, he said.

    "What we're trying to do," Mr. Cullen said, "is tie into millions of years of evolution that says, if you're a prey species, you really don't want to be under a predator."

    He flicked his wrist to demonstrate, and the bird — its name is Starbuck — flapped into the trees, with a jingle from the bell attached to one of its talons. Instantly, a dozen pigeons scattered to the park's far side. When the hawk grows tired or disoriented, Mr. Cullen takes it back to a van parked on 40th Street to rest and brings out another one from a white metal crate. If the project continues next week, he will use trained falcons as well.

    The hawks are not the only birds of prey in the area: a peregrine falcon nests under the M in the MetLife building, not far from the park's northeast corner. But that bird usually hunts only once a day, leaving the pigeons in peace the rest of the time, Mr. Cullen said. The idea behind his program is to terrify the pigeons on such a regular basis that they eventually stop roosting and feeding in Bryant Park. "We're trying to build their stress level," he said, "until they don't find it favorable to stay here."

    The hawks find their new urban environment a little stressful, too. At lunchtime one of them unexpectedly disappeared high above the park. To find it, Mr. Cullen brought out a scary-looking device that receives radio signals from transmitters attached to the birds' talons.

    "Is he looking for some nuclear or biological device?" one man asked, glancing nervously at the spiny metal receiver.

    The receiver traced the bird, and eventually Bill Ponder, another falconer who was helping out, retrieved the bird from the roof of a nearby 14-story building with the assistance of a friendly superintendent.

    It is too early to say for sure if the anti-pigeon program is working, Mr. Cullen said, since the idea is to alter the pigeons' behavior for the long term. It is certainly keeping the pigeons far from the hawk. And it is delighting the throngs of people who walk through the park or eat lunch there. Almost every time the hawk came down from the trees and landed on Mr. Cullen's hand, a group would form to admire its rust-colored shoulders, white tail and alert brown eyes.

    Mr. Cullen would explain what he was doing, and say a few words about hawks. In open country, they can recognize prey or another raptor from miles away. Unlike falcons, they strike their prey on the ground. They kill like pythons, choking their prey with strong talons, not with their beaks.

    The crowd listened raptly. "We don't get many wildlife lectures in Bryant Park," said Linda Durtschi, 41, a legal secretary who works nearby.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Excellent, I have to check it out.

  3. #3

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Hawks are intelligent and frendly birds without any fear-circuitry in their brains. This makes them especially beautiful to humans. So any hawk story is a good story.

  4. #4

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    New York Daily News -

    Hawks grounded in Bryant Park after Chihuahua attack

    Associated Press Writer
    Wednesday, August 6th, 2003

    Fearful of tiny dogs turning into hawk hors d'oeuvres, officials on Wednesday grounded an anti-pigeon campaign employing the winged predators after one of the birds attacked a Chihuahua in Bryant Park.
    "I hope there's some way to keep the program going," said Daniel Biederman, executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corp. "We want to take another look to make sure something doesn't happen again."

    The program, considered a success since its April launch, was suspended Wednesday afternoon. Biederman said a final decision was expected by the end of the week on firing or rehiring the hawks, although city Parks Department officials called for its end.

    "We place the safety of park users, including their pets, over any minor inconvenience that may be caused by pigeons," said Parks spokeswoman Megan Sheekey.

    The hawks' first ugly encounter in four months came Tuesday afternoon in the midtown park's northwest corner, where the diminutive dog was poking around in the bushes while out for a walk with its owner.

    The 18-inch hawk, with its 45-inch wingspan, swooped down and gouged the Chihuahua with one of its talons.

    "I sincerely believe the bird mistook it for a rat because it was in the shrubbery," said Thomas Cullen, the falconer hired to run the program. The hawks patrolled the park four hours a day, five days a week, trying to frighten away the ubiquitous pigeons.

    The hawk, which weighs less than two pounds, was quickly separated from the pooch. A park employee flagged down a passing cab, which took the injured dog, its owner and a friend to a veterinarian's office, said Richard Dillon, vice president of security for Bryant Park.

    Galan — the hawk's name — was quickly taken out of service and returned to Cullen's headquarters in Goshen, N.Y.

    The Bryant Park group picked up the doctor bill, and the dog escaped with only minor injuries, said Cullen, who spoke at a news conference in the park with one of the birds perched on his left hand.

    Starbuck flashed the same piercing eyes, sharp talons and bright yellow beak as its brother, Galan.

    The woman called Bryant Park officials on Wednesday morning to offer thanks for their quick response to the incident, Dillon said. The woman asked that her identity remain secret.

    According to Biederman, the hawk program was a winner, with pigeon infestation down 50 percent, fewer complaints from parkgoers, and less damage to flowers.

    Ward Miller, a lawyer from Glen Ridge, N.J., walks through the park each day while heading to his Fifth Avenue office. He agreed that rousting the pigeons was a rousing success.

    "I don't think this should be done away with because of one misstep," he said while in the park at lunchtime. "This is a great idea. It's better than the alternatives, like poison."


    Ay Chihuahua!
    No offense to anyone who has one of these, but a dog should look like a dog.

  5. #5

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    HI all of you smart SOB's in NY... well too bad you couldn't do that to the evil people in this Country, plus the *Politician's... *just think there's rapist, murders, dead beat DAD's still walking this earth.. Cool keep up the work.. I am sure GOD loves you all ??? Doubt it but what the heck.. we all human right... Joe

  6. #6
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Clearly GOD loves us, after all, he gave us the Yankees!

  7. #7

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    And to Bostonians, he bestoweth the Red Sox.

  8. #8
    Forum Veteran
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    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    And to all the New York-haters, He bestoweth the inability to make a coherent post.

  9. #9

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Whoops, sorry my post is outdated. I just went to post the hawk attacking the dog story now.

    what is maggieusa trying to say? I dont understand it either. Do you mind reposting that in english so i can read it? thanks.

    (Edited by Freedom Tower at 2:56 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

    (Edited by Freedom Tower at 2:58 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

  10. #10

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Rapture via rightous raptors?

  11. #11

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    hawks who keep pigeons AND annoying rat-based "dogs" away? is this a great idea or what?

  12. #12

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons



    (Edited by Jasonik at 3:32 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)

  13. #13

    Default Using Raptors to Scare Away Pigeons

    Quote: from Table 5 on 3:30 pm on Aug. 11, 2003
    hawks who keep pigeons AND annoying rat-based "dogs" away? is this a great idea or what?
    It's the best way. Don't ever give nature's job to humans.

  14. #14
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Bryant Park Skating Rink

    December 10, 2004

    Lions in Front, and Ice Out Back?


    An expanding roster of vendors is one draw for visitors at Bryant Park.

    Hey, meet you at the Bryant Park Skating Rink.

    Doesn't exist, you say? Well, brace yourself for triple-lutz double toe loops, double axels and the occasional salchow next November, if the executive director of the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, Daniel A. Biederman, has his way.

    The overseer of the six-acre park, on city-owned land, Mr. Biederman plans to set up an Olympic-sized portable rink, Zambonis and all, on the park's lawn next November, free to everyone (or at least those who bring their own skates). The facility would be closed for the season at the end of January 2006 to make way for Fashion Week, the park's mid-February shmatte extravaganza.

    Mr. Biederman is rhapsodic when he envisions the vista enveloping skaters "in the enclosure of surrounding skyscrapers and the library to the east."

    Excavation and construction for any permanent rink would be fraught, since underneath the park lawn is a climate-controlled cocoon for book storage that is an extension of the stacks of the New York Public Library.

    Enter the portable rink. According to Mr. Biederman, engineering surveys have determined that the weight of the trucks and tents on the grass during Fashion Week far exceeds that of a rink full of skaters. And since the lawn already has rain-and-snow-runoff drainage, Mr. Biederman said, a leak from a future ice rink would do no harm to the library stacks.

    "We are looking forward to seeing the plan," said Caroline Oyama, a spokeswoman for the library.

    The planned skating rink is but the flashiest pirouette of a grand new initiative to increase the use of Bryant Park in the cold. "We'd like to winterize the park, make it a park for all seasons," Mr. Biederman said.

    He added that a new Bryant Park rink would not cannibalize attendance at other skating facilities "because they are really in different neighborhoods." The option of skating in Bryant Park "would create a whole new group of patrons," he predicted, referring to the 40,000 office workers adjacent to the park and the 100,000 within two blocks.

    Bryant Park's landlord, the city's parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said, "We are intrigued by the idea." Would a new rink lower attendance at his department's Wollman Skating Rink or Lasker Skating Rink? "I don't think competition is a worry because Central Park is a destination location, attracting many loyal, well-established skating groups," the commissioner said. "A new rink could, in fact, be helpful in relieving overcrowding."

    He added, "Competition might be more likely with Rockefeller Center." A Midtown cynosure since it first opened on Christmas day in 1936, the Rink at Rockefeller Center is seven blocks north, and charges adults $14 on weekdays and $17 on weekends, exclusive of skate rentals.

    Admission at Wollman rink, on the east side of Central Park between 63rd and 64th Streets, is $8.50 for adults on weekdays and $11 on weekends. Lasker rink, in the park at 107th Street, charges $4.50 for adults. Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, at 23rd Street and the Hudson River, charges $13.50 for adults. The Riverbank Skating Rink at 145th Street on the river charges $4.50 for adults.

    Yesterday Bryant Park users were enthusiastic about the prospect of ice skating.

    "Here, with all the trees, you'd feel you were skating on a pond," said Andrew Personette, 27, who designs clothes and furniture.

    "Rockefeller Center is too busy - it's crazy there, so I'd rather use the rink here," said his girlfriend, Amelia Dombrowski, a 28-year-old costume designer who works less than a block from the park. (Rockefeller Center, through Steven Rubenstein, its spokesman, declined to comment on the potential competition.)

    Irene Williamson, a tourist from Norfolk, England, said, "I like ice-skating, but only as long as they have enough places to sit and watch."

    Last week, as part of the park's "winterization" strategy, Bryant Park furnished a jaunty, heated, green-and-white-striped tent for chess and checkers players and another for the outdoor Reading Room, the complement to the public library on the 42nd Street side of the park. Since the opening of the heated reading-room tent, it has attracted an average of 40 to 50 people per day, and 80 on sunny, mild days.

    Mr. Biederman said that free admission was contingent on finding a corporate sponsor for the skating rink. In addition to a skate-rental operation, he hopes to furnish a proximate refreshment stand offering hot chocolate, the frost-fighting elixir.

    In addition, Bryant Park hopes to put up a tent for those watching the merry-go-round. A hit since it opened in 2002, the carousel has been operated sporadically in winter, but will now be open weekends "and, we hope, other warm winter days," Mr. Biederman said. To attract weekday patrons, Bryant Park offers a sign-up sheet for carousel riders so that park administrators can send out e-mail reminders to hundreds of potential customers on sunny days.

    Another tent has increased winter patronage: Bryant Park Grill's enclosed, heated terrace, offering park views through vinyl, added 180 seats to the 200 in the restaurant.

    Cold-weather traffic has also been generated by the growing number of vendors at the park's Christmas market - officially designated Fêtes de Noël: The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park - which is "a greenmarket concept expanded to crafts," as Mr. Benepe put it, based on the popularity of Christmas marketplaces in Europe. It has grown to 120 stores this year from 80 in 2002, and its inventory has expanded beyond crafts to offer commercial merchandise from vendors like The New York Times.

    Mr. Biederman said he was in discussion with the operator of the Christmas market, ID&A, to sponsor the rink. The installation of an Olympic-sized ice surface for a three-month season could cost nearly $400,000 according to a Texas-based installer and operator of seasonal facilities,

    The Bryant Park corporation's $4.5 million budget derives from nonpublic sources, including $1 million from concessions, $2 million from events, $750,000 from real-estate and other sponsors of the business-improvement district, and $750,000 from other sponsors and donors.

    All these winter audience-builders seem to be necessary. "Attendance definitely declines in the cold weather," said Daniel Z. Gordon, 41, a groundskeeper who has had the task of "enumerating humans," as he put it, for nearly three years. Every weekday at 1:15 p.m., he works his way north from West 40th Street, tallying park visitors in imaginary squares that stretch from tree to tree; then he uses his practiced eye to estimate traffic on the walkways. He said peak attendance on nonevent days is about 6,200 in summer; the lowest turnout has been less than 100 on stormy winter days.

    Many hardy cold-weather park visitors are attracted to Bryant Park by free WiFi Internet access, available since 2002, when it attracted 5,188 separate log-ons. So far this year, there have been 39,000 log-ons

    Bryant Park's efforts coincide with a new winter-avidity phenomenon in the city. "Anecdotally, I think there are many more people out in the parks in winter than before," Mr. Benepe said. He thinks the workout culture has contributed to a cold-weather renaissance. "And I think another explanation," Mr. Benepe added, "is that people feel safe."

    And despite all the attention given to global warming, Mr. Benepe promised "our biggest winter festival ever, two days instead of one," he said, referring to the celebration on Jan. 8 and 9 in the East Meadow, where the entrance is at 99th Street and Fifth Avenue. Ski-resort operators will provide artificial snow, and visitors will be encouraged to try free snowshoeing, snow-tubing and even snow-sculpting.

    What else is next? The indefatigable Mr. Biederman has summoned up 100 new green chairs from France fitted with writing surfaces and cupholders; 1,000 more are on order.

    Why not just relax and run the park as is? "You must have new ideas to keep people coming," Mr. Biederman said. "We reclaimed this park, and we must continue to make it an exciting place.

    Plans are brewing for a portable ice skating rink like the one in Cleveland's Public Square.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Since the rink would not be permanent, I think that it's a great way to make use of the park's lawn in winter. I'm all for it.

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