Free Bird: Sick Prospect Park hawk will survive poisoning, rescuers say

Fowl feast: Prospect Park hawk in intensive care after swallowing poisoned rodent
Bobby Horvath

A Kings County hawk found poisoned in Prospect Park last week will survive thanks to the efforts of a Queens firefighter and his animal-loving wife, who look forward to releasing the downy hunter next week at a more hawk-friendly park.

“We know there’s poison out there,” said Bobby Horvath, who runs the Wildlife in Need of Rescue group with his wife, Kathy Horvath. “If this happens again, it may not be so lucky.”

The on-the-mend hawk fell deathly ill last week after snacking on a mouse, or rat poisoned with Rodenticide, a deadly toxin commonly employed by city exterminators, and the big-hearted fire fighter swooped in for the rescue after Prospect Park Alliance Forestry, Wildlife, and Aquatic Technician Marty Woess spotted the bird unable to take flight near the park’s Le Frak ice-skating rink on March 26.

It was touch and go for a few days as the Horvaths’ pumped the bird full of fluids and Vitman K, but the hawk managed to survive the weekend, and is now eating and ornery, according to Bobby Horvath, who said the bird’s combativeness is a sure sign of good health.

“He doesn’t want to be bothered, restrained, or medicated anymore,” he said. “He’s putting up much more of a fight than he did before.”

The bird is a young male, and fortunately not part of a breeding pair, meaning it hasn’t staked out a territory and can be released anywhere that isn’t already occupied by other hawks.

And that, coupled with the fact that another hawk died under similar circumstances in 2017, means the animal rescuers probably won’t return the predator to Prospect Park, and will likely seek out some other city greenspace, potentially outside of the borough.

“This bird isn’t married to that territory, it could be released anywhere,” said Bobby Horvath.

The Parks Department suspended use of Rodenticide in Prospect Park following the 2017 hawk fatality, and currently utilizes snap traps and dry ice — which are not harmful to the meadow’s avian occupants — as the park’s only anti-rat devices, according to spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson.

However, hawks can range far and wide in search of four-legged snacks, and poisoned mouse traps remain a common sight on the stoops of nearby row houses surrounding Brooklyn’s Backyard, according to Bobby Horvath.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixs[email protected]glocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.