You’ve probably been under the impression most of your life that birds are monogamous. And while that’s mostly true, even our feathered friends sometimes find that life presents them with unexpected forks in the road — or, in this case, multiple nests in the trees.
The attention garnered when celebrities are involved in love triangles is nothing new. However, a beloved pair of red-tailed hawks in Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park are now the subject of birdwatchers and gossip columnists alike. Recently, dedicated birdwatchers in the area discovered that the male hawk, Christo, has been stepping out — er, winging out? — on his longtime mate Dora.
The couple, who has been spotted together for at least five years and have raised 10 chicks in their downtown N.Y.C. love nest, grew apart when Dora was taken to a veterinarian three weeks ago for a broken wing, reports CBS New York. Although hawks typically mate for life, it’s not unusual for New York City hawks to find a new mate within 24 hours if one of them dies, wildlife rehabilitator Bobby Horvath tells the New York Post.
“There have been prior documented cases where it has worked out,” Horvath told the paper. “As long as the females are kept apart.”
Other fans of Christo and Dora are heartbroken over the arrival of “homewrecking” Nora (so named because she is “not Dora”). When Dora returned to the scene, the three birds reportedly flew around in chaotic circles in the sky screaming at each other.
Yikes! Talk about hawk-ward.
“When Dora was taken away, he probably thought she died, so he got a new mate,” local photographer Laura Goggin told CBS New York. She also lamented to the Post that her “heart sank knowing Dora saw Christo taking up with another female.”
Although Nora packed up her twigs from Dora’s nest, she didn’t move far away. She’s now in a tree on the opposite side of the park, and Christo is splitting his time between both homes. Experts say threesomes like this are rare, but possible, especially in an urban environment where the nests are not so far apart.
Can’t get enough of cats, dogs and other furry friends? Click here to get the cutest pet news and photos delivered directly to your inbox.
Meanwhile, mating season for the hawks — and the soap operatic melodrama for local birdwatchers — has only just begun.
“He’s a really stand-up hawk and father,” East Village ornithologist Helen Stratford told the Post. “If anyone can make it happen, it’s him.”