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

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He’s living on a wing and a prayer.

A Brooklyn hawk remains on the brink of death after it was found poisoned in Prospect Park near the LeFrak ice skating rink on March 26.

The bird of prey feasted on a rat contaminated by rodenticide, a common poison that often causes collateral damage as it gets kicked up the food chain, according to a Queens firefighter, who’s nursing the bird back to health.

“It obviously ate a poisoned rodent,” said Bobby Horvath, who rehabilitates ailing animals when he’s not fighting fires in Far Rockaway. “It’s unfortunately very common.”

Prospect Park Alliance Forestry, Wildlife and Aquatic Technician Marty Woess phoned Horvath after spotting the predator’s failed attempt to take flight by the ice skating rink near Ocean Avenue on Tuesday — a sure sign of trouble, according to the fire fighting wildlife rescuer.

The fire fighter, who operates the Wildlife in Need of Rescue group alongside his wife, Kathy Horvath, collected the critter and ferried it back to his Long Island rehabilitation center, where he’s been pumping the poisoned bird with a cocktail of Vitamin K, fluids, and nutritional supplements ever since, he said.

By Thursday, the poison hadn’t felled the downy hunter, but he remained on the brink, and there’s still no guarantee the feathered fowl won’t succumb to the deadly toxins, Horvath said.

“The prognosis isn’t good for any of these animals,” said Horvath.

And the sick bird’s plight is not unique to Brooklyn’s Backyard, where the Parks Department suspended use of rodenticide-laced bait in response to another hawk, which died tragically after eating a poisoned rodent in 2017. Agency spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson confirmed that the department continues to limit its rodent killing tactics to dry ice and snap traps, which pose little threat to the meadow’s avian residents.

But the sight of little black bait boxes near the stoops of nearby row houses remains common around the borough, according to Horvath, who noted that, while hawks prefer to nest in Prospect Park, they can range far and wide in search of food.

“The bird’s aren’t locked into Prospect Park,” he said. “They can flay anywhere, and they can hunt.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:43 pm, March 29, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Hb from Bklyn says:
Maybe increase the hawk population and let them solve the rodent problem? Things to think about..why it would or wouldn't work...
March 29, 2019, 9 am
Billy from Sunset Park says:
Hb is on the ball--if we stop interfering with nature, it will resolve many of these issues. It is a shame to be reading of this again: if memory serves, in 2017 the poisoned birds mate was watching from nearby. Eventually the poisoned bird died. Rarely do they survive.
March 29, 2019, 9:08 am
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Stop poisoning the rats! Its killing the birds! NYC logic! There would be so many rats they would eating the people.
March 29, 2019, 10:55 am
NYC Audubon from Citywide says:
Thank you Bobby and Kathy! There are alternatives to rodenticide. See more about how these poisons kill raptors, learn about solutions, and download a new brochure:
March 29, 2019, 6:05 pm
Neighbor from Brooklyn says:
Why are we still using poison to reduce rats in NYC when Contrapest exists as a safe product and has been successfully tested here!
April 1, 2019, 6:46 am

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