“He really was an enchanting person. In some way he was like the spiritual father of everybody…. It is hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy.” Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, and close friend of Charles, remembering him after his death in October 2004

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and Charles Part 2

It's been two days since Thanksgiving when I posted about Charles's approach to gratitude. Here now are some expressions of appreciation and gratitude from his book dedicated to the great Red-tailed Hawk of Central Park, Pale Male.

Excerpted from Pale Male and Family: Essays and Photos of Charles F. Kennedy

Question: what could be better than being 150 feet in the air on a beautiful terrace that overlooks Central Park with exquisite hawks on both sides?

I stare
she stares back
red-tail mother


Smiles and warm grins seem inevitable when looking at this kid. And after my decade-long affair with the father, a good Red-tail quote still brings pleasure. Pale Male and his young son are formally titled Buteo jamaicensis, one of the dozen species of the genus Buteo. I suppose it’s not a belly laugh, but in the hot new reference book, The Sibley Guide to Birds, a line very much pleases me: “Red-tail, the Buteo to which all others are compared.” Now check the picture again and smile.



And so she tossed the heart, ate her rat, wiped her beak on the apple branch, and now flies from her victory. I stand by the apple tree collecting my thoughts and camera stuff. An hour has passed. The bright gray noon is now a glorious blue afternoon. She is back on her street light with a crop so full she can barely see over. I’m so fortunate to have been there, fortunate this fierce young warrior allowed me to be the voyeur in this particular circle of her life. Thanks, lady.


I have special affection for this photograph. This young hawk gave me a privileged view of its life as it caught the rat, ate it on a low limb, and then posed on a streetlight. Growing up the Red-tailed way, and I got to be there for a bit of it.

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