Finding that One Place

pale malecharles

Last week’s post announced the April 27th Colorado premiere of The Legend of Pale Male, Frederic Lilien’s award-winning film celebrating the story of what happened when a red-tailed hawk (Pale Male) suddenly nests along the high-rise apartments surrounding New York City’s Central Park. The result: one of the best films we’ve ever seen on nature in the city!

A central character in Pale Male’s story is Charles Kennedy — naturalist, poet, and photographer. Marie Winn offers this personal insight in her book Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife: “When I first met him back in the early 1990’s, Charles was trying to become a birdwatcher. His goal was to find every bird mentioned in a book called Falconer of Central Park, and I think he was up to 65 out of the book’s 150 species on the day I ran into him. When a young red-tailed hawk arrived in the park a few months later, Charles put his list away. He had lost his heart to a single bird. That was when he and I began to follow Pale Male and the wildly successful nest on Fifth Avenue.”

Charles Kennedy’s red-tail essays and photographs are compiled in Pale Male & Family (pictured above, and thoughtfully edited by Steve Kennedy). Pale Male may have captured Charles Kennedy’s attention — but not all his attention. He was just as likely to drop to his knees to watch cicadas emerge, or spiders weaving their webs. Day turns to night, and Charles and his friends would lead nightly excursions into America’s greatest urban parks. Or as Charles Kennedy wrote:

the sun drops
the cold slides in
owl time

owlscharles w/ lens

Steve Kennedy, Charles’ nephew, has edited his uncle’s essays, haiku, and photography in the book Owls of Central Park. Steve writes in his introduction:

The last time I was with Charles was two weeks before he lost his battle with cancer. During that last quiet time together, what he most wanted to do was read to me from his newest compilation, his ‘owl book.’ He had engaged his friends in producing, by hand, large copies of the book — in part to keep them from focusing on his deteriorating health, and in part to make sure it was finished and available to his close network of friends and family. As Charles read his book about Central Park owls he charged me with tending to his large body of written and photographic work. So this book has a special place in my heart. It also is a favorite among Charles’ friends and acquaintances.

This memorial plaque can be found on a bench in Central Park, not far from where Pale Male flies to this very day:


Friends choose a particularly apt haiku from Charles Kennedy’s notebooks, to honor Charles’ many days (and nights) in a place he loved best.

Here’s a wonderful volume that preserves more of Charles Kennedy’s work:

fish jumps

The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon: Haiku of Charles F. Kennedy, edited by Steve Kennedy and Dan Guenther.


Charles Kennedy’s books will be available for purchase at the Colorado premiere of The Legend of Pale Male (Saturday, April 27th, 6:30pm, at Denver’s Montview Presbyterian Church). All proceeds will benefit The Bloomsbury Review — a literary legend in its own right.

You’ll love the film’s trailer (below), and keep your eyes open for Charles Kennedy, always searching the skyline for the most famous red-tailed hawk in the world:

For more information on the April 27th premiere, call 303-455-3123, or 800-783-3338, or visit The Bloomsbury Review website!

And for much more of Charles Kennedy, be sure to visit the beautifully done site, kennedyworks — exploring the life and works of charles francis kennedy.

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