Two Southern Brooklyn bridges are home to some furry new faces this spring.
Clutches of peregrine falcon chicks were banded last week atop the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge — unique nurseries that offer an incredible 360-degree view of New York’s skyline.
Two boy and two girl hatchlings were born at 693-feet on top of the Verrazano’s Brooklyn tower last month, while one baby boy and three girls are now tucked atop the 215-foot Rockaway tower at the Marine Parkway Bridge.
Four more baby falcons — two boys and two girls — were born on the Throgs Neck Bridge, in the Bronx, bringing the total number of newcomers to 12.
Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out in the 1960s as a result of pesticides in their food supply, and they remain on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] endangered birds list. Urban falcons like to nest on bridges, church steeples, and high-rise buildings because they provide an excellent vantage point for hunting prey, including pigeons and small birds.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels has been part of the state nesting program since 1983. 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, though last year a hatchling fell from his perch on the Verrazano and had to be rescued by MTA Bridge and Tunnel workers.
Falcons mate for life and generally return to the same nest to hatch their young.
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 3 weeks old and boy, were those little guys loud!
All photos and video are courtesy of the MTA. Photos were taken by MTA Photographer Patrick Cashin.