The verdict: Poisoning - Anticoagulant rodenticide.
Further tests are being done to determine which chemicals were responsible for her death. I'll post if/when I receive those results.
Some details from the necropsy report:
Beak soiled with blood/residue from last meal. Massive poorly clotted subcutaneous hemorrhage along right wing, from shoulder to wrist. Smaller foci of hemorrhage present at caudal margin of right breast and over right caudal aspect of the pelvis. Otherwise in good flesh with large fat deposits (especially visceral). Liver and kidneys are pale and the heart is devoid of blood. Oviduct contains a cracked shelled egg. Three other ova are very enlarged.A photo was included with the report, which is too graphic to post here. It is available on request.
So, imagine my fury when I returned to Columbus Park today and found that the rat baiting is still going strong. The most recent day poison was put out was April 9. It seems to be happening on a weekly basis.
I was hoping that the male hawk would leave town after the death of the female, but he has established a territory and he's not giving it up. He's been seen in Collect Pond Park in the week since the female's death.
Below is a photo of the Department of Health Building on Leonard and Centre Streets. The middle air-conditioner is where the hawks were building their nest. (Unfortunately, it blew down in last Sunday's wind storm.) To my surprise, a local hawk-watcher was able to capture TWO hawks taking sticks to the air-conditioner this morning.
Photo credit: Betsi Gertz
It looks like the male hawk has wasted no time finding another mate. Normally, this would be encouraging news. However, the poison that killed his first mate is still all over the area.
I've heard the DOH keeps receiving complaints about rats, and this is why they're going on a baiting blitz. Rats are a valid complaint and are definitely an issue that requires control. But there are alternative (non-toxic) ways of doing this, such as using snap traps in place of poison. The hawks themselves are excellent tools for rodent control and they're here free of charge!
Nothing will change if no one speaks up. Hawks and other wildlife will continue to die horrible tortuous deaths as long as poison is allowed to continue. Please send an email to Council Member Margaret Chin (firstname.lastname@example.org), who represents the Lower East Side and Chinatown, and demand that poison bait boxes be replaced with snap traps. Anticoagulant rodenticide is indiscriminate and inhumane.