cover image Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park

Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park

Marie Winn. Pantheon Books, $24 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-679-43997-4

New York's Central Park, although located in the heart of Gotham, is one of the prime birding areas in the country, with about 190 species observed by a dedicated band of nature lovers whom Winn knows as the ""Regulars,"" being one herself. A nature columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the author of The Plug-In Drug and other books, Winn tells a captivating story here of hawks, humans and other denizens of the park over a five-year period. In the spring of 1992, a pair of red-tailed hawks built a nest on a high ledge of a building on Fifth Avenue (Woody Allen's penthouse was across the street). Great excitement and anticipation ensued among Winn's adoptive clan. When, in the third year, the first fledglings appeared, the Regulars maintained a dawn-to-dusk watch on the nest. They observed the hawks mating, hunting, eating (pigeons and rats were plentiful) and bringing food to their young. These activities attracted a lot of attention from people passing through the park--children, tourists, workmen, city officials--many of whom prove interesting here as sideshows to the main event of the birds. Winn brings a wonderfully clear eye to all her observations, avian and otherwise. Birders will be enchanted, as will thoughtful students of human nature. (Mar.)