Watch CBS News

Pale Male, red tailed hawk that made headlines in 2004, has died

Red-tailed hawk named Pale Male dies
Red-tailed hawk named Pale Male dies 02:02

NEW YORK -- A red tailed hawk who nested above Fifth Avenue for decades, has died. 

A New York City celebrity covered in feathers, Pale Male was followed for three decades by camera and binocular-toting fans. 

As the red tailed hawk hunted, and mated, he - more than any other bird - exposed New Yorkers to the kinds of wildlife that need to be protected in our concrete jungle.

"I remember seeing him soaring," Upper East Side resident Richard Lau said. 

Lau, a longtime bird watcher, said news of Pale Male's death saddened him, but he also feels grateful. 

"Thank you Pale Male for all the wonderful moments you provided for the people of New York City," Lau said. 

UPDATE : Our Vet reported the blood results came back revealing severe renal failure likely due to age. It was beyond...

Posted by Bobby Horvath on Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Pale Male's legend dates back to the early 1990s. He settled atop a swanky Fifth Avenue apartment building, but the nest was removed by the coop board.

Some New Yorkers protested, including building resident Mary Tyler Moore.

The board reversed its decision, added a metal support, and Pale Male came back.

For more than 30 years New Yorkers were enthralled.

"Everybody stopping and just staring at this incredible majestic creature," Upper East Side resident Hayley Siegel. 

"It was probably the first inkling that nature is thriving in the park," Caren Jahre said. 

It is believed Pale Male had eight mates, and about two dozen offspring. 

Monday afternoon, a park ranger found the noticeably ill bird near the Intersection of East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The death is blamed on "severe renal failure... due to his advanced age."

"Pale Male was a great educator," Rita McMahon, director of The Wild Bird Fund said. "If that was Pale Male who just died, he set the record for longevity for red tailed hawks."

McMahon marvels that it seems Pale Male lived to 33, when life expectancy is usually around 20.

"Unfortunately he never got banded, you know, so we can't prove it its him," said bird watcher Deborah Allen. 

Allen choses not to dwell on that mystery, instead reflecting on a life that brought joy to the city, and a better understanding and treatment of birds everywhere.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.