NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - In 2016, Wild Bird Fund director Rita McMahon cared for 44 different hawks, 17 peregrine falcons, and 30 kestrels.
"They're sexy birds and I think New Yorkers really like them," McMahon said, while a male kestrel pecked the top of her hand.
That bird arrived at the Wild Bird Fund's Upper West Side rehabilitation center after flying into a window. McMahon said its presence there, along with the hundred or so other raptors she cared for last year, demonstrate the growing population of birds of prey in New York City.
"You've got the big bad boys -- the red-tailed hawks -- but they're almost like puppy dogs compared to a Cooper's hawk or the peregrine falcon," she said.
Pale Male -- a red-tailed hawk named for his lighter coloring -- perhaps started this urban hawk resurgence in the city when he nested atop a building across from Central Park in the early 90s. He still lives, and his chicks still hatch in that nest today.
"We have so many good nesting spots for them," McMahon says.
And so much food. A reduction in the number of poisoned rats in addition to all the pigeons and songbirds that abound in the city give the hawks plenty to hunt and bird watchers plenty of opportunities to see these large birds in the urban wild.
"As long as we keep our act together and don't use rat poison we'll be in good shape," McMahon says.