Last supper: Poisoned red-tailed hawk found in P’Park dies after eating contaminated rat

Last supper: Poisoned red-tailed hawk found in P’Park dies after eating contaminated rat
Bobby Horvath

Red hawk down!

Park rangers and animal lovers unsuccessfully tried to rescue a poisoned red-tailed hawk as the bird’s partner called out to its dying lover in Prospect Park on Dec. 3, according to one of the doomed creature’s would-be saviors.

“There was a mate right there screaming, calling for it in a tree nearby,” said New York City fire fighter Bobby Horvath, who runs a wildlife rescue with his wife out of their Long Island home.

The female bird ate a rat poisoned by traps set by either the Department of Parks and Recreation or owners of properties near the park, according to Horvath, who said second-hand contamination is a common killer of the borough’s birds of prey.

“Poisoning is a nation-wide issue, especially in big cities where there’s a rodent problem,” Horvath said.

The animal was discovered near the Ravine area of Brooklyn’s Backyard, and park rangers quickly handed it off to Horvath for rehabilitation, but the critter began bleeding from its mouth and other orifices three hours after the fireman retrieved it — a sure sign that the hawk’s end was near, he said.

“The prognosis was not good at all,” Horvath said. “We’re equipped to treat the birds and have medication we administer for poisoning cases, but it was too far gone to reverse the effects of the poison.”

Horvath sent the dead bird to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a necropsy, which determined the creature swallowed an anti-coagulant that essentially caused it to bleed to death, he said.

The pair of red-tailed hawks are well known among the park’s animal lovers, according to a crestfallen Park Slope bird-watcher, who described the poisoned animal as a large, “well-fleshed” bird of about three pounds, and said its favorite perch was on the arch in Grand Army Plaza.

“What a waste of a beautiful, useful little life,” Ann Feldman said.

The species mates for life, but that doesn’t mean the park’s winged widower will die alone, according to Horvath, who said fans can expect the bird to find love again sometime soon.

“He won’t die of a broken heart,” Horvath said.

A parks department rep said the agency’s exterminator suspended the use of rat poison in Prospect Park as of Dec. 6, following the hawk sighting.

It’s not the first time an animal lover failed to save an ailing bird found in Brooklyn’s Backyard. This fall, a wildlife advocate pulled an injured swan from Prospect Park Lake with help from a park worker, only to watch the bird perish from its wound caused by an illegal barbed fishing hook shortly thereafter.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.