Winged Muse

Photo: Lincoln Karim/Courtesy of

Since making himself at home at Fifth Avenue and 74th in the early nineties, Pale Male has been harassed by his human neighbors, endured tragic romances (he’s lost three mates), and produced dozens of offspring. He’s also inspired nearly as many cultural tributes, the latest of which is Frederic Lilien’s The Legend of Pale Male, a sequel to the filmmaker’s earlier documentary on New York’s easily most-watched bird.

‘Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama In Central Park’
Marie Winn, 1999
The author gave Pale Male his name.

‘The Tale of Pale Male: A True Story’
Jeanette Winter, 2007
This kids’ book tells the story of “the apartment people,” who, having tired of mouse bones raining down from the heavens, turn against Pale Male and his babies.

Steve Earle’s “Down Here Below”
The alt-country singer commemorates Pale on his album Washington Square Serenade with these lyrics: “Pale Male swimmin’ in the air / Looks like he’s in heaven up there / People sufferin’ everywhere / He don’t care.”

Appearances with the Max Weinberg 7, ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien’
In puppet form, Pale sat in with Max and the band.

‘City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male’
Meghan McCarthy, 2007
Publishers Weekly liked “both [McCarthy’s] human and winged characters incarnated as amiable bug-eyed creatures who express themselves through the slant of their mouths (or tilt of their beaks).”

‘Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City’
Janet Schulman and Meilo So, 2008
This version of Pale’s adventures described him and his family as “true-blue New Yorkers—tough, resourceful, and determined to make it in the city.”

T-shirts, calendars, and more
On a site called, bird lovers can buy clothes, wall clocks, children’s onesies, beach totes, and doggie T-shirts emblazoned with Pale’s visage. A Pale Male & Lola Forever photo book, meanwhile, memorializes Pale’s relationship with mate Lola in an intimate yet tasteful album.

‘Pale Male’
Lilien’s first documentary on the hawk. The DVD cover proclaims, “He won the heart of New York.” (And he didn’t even have to rip it, still beating, out of our chests to do it.)

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