Falcon Families Grow High Atop Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge
MTA Bridges and Tunnels today announced that two healthy peregrine falcon chicks have been hatched and have joined their falcon mom in a specially built nesting box atop the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. The fluffy hatchlings, who enjoy 360-degree views of the city skyline from their perches, were recently banded for wildlife monitoring, as happens every year.
The 2021 newcomers, who are perching comfortably atop the 215-foot Rockaway tower, are one of three falcon families being watched. Unhatched eggs remain on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Brooklyn tower, as well as the Throgs Neck Bridge Queens tower.
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 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. The bandings took place on May 20 when the falcon chicks were about three weeks old. MTA Bridges and Tunnels has been part of the state nesting program since 1983.
Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out by 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.
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.
The banding process is performed in accordance with agency procedures and does no harm to the chicks.