As urban bird lovers know, New York City is a predator's paradise, with high-rises, church steeples, and towering bridges that are the perfect place to perch while zeroing in on prey. (Air conditioning units are cool, too!) Now, there are three more future killers getting their talons ready.
The Port Authority and NYC Department of Environmental Protection announced that three female peregrine falcon chicks hatched in early May, near the Bayonne Bridge. The trio was banded on May 29th, and appeared to be about 21 days old. The NYC DEP believes they made their first flights around June 19th.
They were named Martha, Rosie and Juno, in honor of World War II heroes and the 75th anniversary of D-Day celebrated earlier this month, according to the Port Authority. Olga Krueger, the Staten Island Bridges General Manager, said, "Martha was the first name of one of the first female war correspondents. Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon who represents the women who worked in factories and shipyards during the war. And Juno is the name of one of the beaches used as a landing area during the invasion."
The Port Authority also described the process to tag the birds
Rich Kerney, a SIB maintenance unit supervisor, and Chris Nadareski, a research scientist with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), climbed up a 40-foot nesting tower in the Arthur Kill near the Bayonne Bridge.
Nadareski secured identification bands around the newborns’ tiny claws — much to the displeasure of their protective mother and father. The parents aggressively circled and clawed at him and Kerney throughout the process, out of concern for their babies, but soon enough Nadareski returned them safely to their care.
The chicks are banded so the agencies can track their movement and understand their migration. Also, the bands aid in identification if the birds are later wounded or found dead. And, yes, baby falcons are very noisy:
Since 1992, 46 peregrine falcons have hatched from the bridge—and Nadareski has banded 43 of them. The NYC DEP, Port Authority, and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation have been working together to keep the falcon population thriving. In fact, the NYS DEC explains, "Peregrine falcons are listed as an endangered species in New York State. They were eliminated as a nesting species in the state by the early 1960s, due mainly to pesticide (DDE) residues in their prey. The release of young captive bred birds from 1974-1988 helped lead to their return as a nesting species. Peregrines first returned to nest on two bridges in New York City in 1983. Two years later they were again nesting in the Adirondacks."
And now, "New York City may now have the largest urban population of peregrine falcons anywhere. Peregrines nest on every Hudson River bridge south of Albany."