BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A pair of peregrine falcons has settled into
its custom-made nesting box situated on top of MacKay Heating Plant
on the University at Buffalo's South (Main Street) Campus, thanks
to the cooperative efforts of the University at Buffalo and the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The pair's arrival in Western New York marks a positive sign in
the decades-long effort to reintroduce this endangered species in
the Northeast, according to the DEC.
"Adequate nesting habitat plays a critical role in the peregrine
falcons' comeback, and this new box provides an ideal nesting
location," said Connie Adams, senior wildlife biologist for the
DEC. "Based on the courtship behavior observed, we anticipate the
falcon pair using this new nest box may already be sitting on
According to Adams, chicks (known as eyases) generally hatch
about four weeks after the last egg is laid.
The idea of placing a nesting box at UB took shape last spring
when local birdwatchers Vicki Kadow and Roger Johnson notified DEC
that they had observed peregrine falcons frequenting areas around
UB's South Campus, near the university's MacKay Heating Plant.
DEC biologists confirmed the sighting, and asked the university
to consider hosting a nesting box.
"Since MacKay Heating Plant is an historic building, we obtained
special permission from the New York State Office of Historic
Preservation before installing the box," said Ronald C. Van
Splunder, manager of architectural support for UB Facilities
Planning and Design.
UB Facilities carpenters constructed the nesting box, under Van
Splunder's direction, and installed it on Feb. 26 near the top of
the MacKay Heating Plant tower, 137 feet above the ground.
The male and female falcons, which local birdwatchers have named
"Smokey" and "Misty," were observed together in the nesting box as
early as March 24, Van Splunder said.
A recent DEC report noted that New York State now has the
largest population of peregrines in the Eastern United States.
According to the DEC, peregrines typically build their nests on
high ledges or cliffs that are 50 to 200 feet off the ground, but
are also known to readily adopt artificial nest boxes placed on
tall buildings or bridges in urban areas where cliff sites are
"When placed on buildings or bridges, peregrine falcon nest
boxes can greatly increase nesting productivity by providing a tray
of fine gravel that keeps eggs from getting damaged or rolling off,
as well as by providing some shelter from the weather," said the
DEC's Adams. "Nesting peregrine falcon pairs typically return to
the same nesting site year after year."
Peregrine falcons feed almost entirely on birds, and are known
for their dramatic dives on prey, attaining speeds of over 200
miles per hour.
Classified as an endangered bird species in New York State, they
were completely eliminated from the Eastern United States in the
1960s, mainly due to pesticide residues in their bird prey, which
caused reduced breeding success.
Due to reintroduction efforts started in New York State and
followed by other Eastern states, this species' population has
According to the DEC, Western New York is already home to
several peregrine falcon nest sites, including the nest box located
atop the Statler building in downtown Buffalo, the nest box on the
South Grand Island Bridge and an old power plant ledge on the
Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge.
"The need for an additional nesting site in this area is
encouraging and confirms the success of extensive restoration
efforts," said Adams.
More information on peregrine falcons is available from the DEC,
which recently published the "2008 State Peregrine Falcons Report."
The report documents the presence of 67 territorial pairs of state
endangered peregrine falcons, in New York State, slightly more than
half of which were recorded in upstate New York.
In 2008, 60 of these pairs bred and hatched 130 young.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.