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Published on : Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Twelve new peregrine falcon chicks with a unique nursery that includes an awesome 360-degree view of the city skyline were recently banded at the Verrazano-Narrows, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial and Throgs Neck bridges.
The 2015 newcomers include two boys and two girls 693-feet atop the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s Brooklyn tower; one boy and three girls 215-feet atop the Rockaway tower at Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge; and two boys and two girls 360-feet atop the Bronx tower at the Throgs Neck Bridge.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels has been part of the state nesting program since 1983.
Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out in the 1960s as a result of pesticides in their food supply, and remain on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation endangered birds list. Urban falcons like to nest atop bridges, church steeples and high-rise buildings because they provide an excellent vantage point for hunting prey, including pigeons and small birds.
Each year around the end of May research scientist Chris Nadareski, of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, climbs to the top of the three bridges and puts identifying bands on the falcon chicks. This helps wildlife experts keep track of the number of peregrines in the city, and identify them in case they become sick or injured. This year he was assisted by Barbara Saunders of the state DEC. The bandings took place on May 28 and May 29 when the falcon chicks were about three weeks old.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels provides a nesting box for the falcons at each of the bridges but otherwise leaves the birds alone, particularly during nesting season. Falcons mate for life and generally return to the same nest to hatch their young.