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Falcons nest on GI bridge

Published on July 1, 2007
The Buffalo News Inc.

Downtown Buffalo no longer has an exclusive perch on an unusual peregrine falcon nesting site.

Department of Environmental Conservation officials this spring began seeing falcon activity around the north Grand Island Bridge at a site where New York State Thruway Authority personnel had installed a nesting box eight years ago.

Mark Kandel, a DEC wildlife biologist, suggested two years after it was installed that the nest should be moved higher and farther from the Niagara River's shoreline. It worked.

While DEC officials and bird watchers observed falcon nesting activity this spring, aquatic biologist Mike Wilkinson began noticing osprey activity west of the bridge. Now, an active osprey nest exists atop a power pole less than a quarter mile west of the falcon nest.

The falcon parents have yet to be identified by leg bandings, said wildlife biologist Connie Adams. But the four chicks, three males and one female, were banded on both legs June 19. "One leg has a silver band and the other has a black and green band, so they should be easy to identify when seen," Adams said.

"We band all falcons that inhabit this area, and it would be interesting to see if the falcon parents were previously banded or if they came here from the wilds," she said of these raptors that migrate to Northern and Central South America.

Chicks that begin successfully flying may forage in the area for a month to six weeks to develop their flying and hunting skills before heading south, she added.

"The falcons' presence is encouraging evidence of their resurgence in New York State, and confirms the success of restoration efforts," said DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder.

Adams would like to hear from anyone who has seen these falcons and possibly any osprey that may have fledged from their nests. "It was much easier to spot falcons downtown; they usually perch on building ledges. Seeing these raptors in the Grand Island/Niagara Gorge area may be more difficult," she noted.

Persons seeing either the falcons or the osprey adults and young are encouraged to report those sightings to Connie Adams at the DEC Buffalo office (851-7010).