A beady glare from BB, UB’s female peregrine until 2013.
Photo: Kenneth Nusstein, UB Facilities
A shriek echoes through the South Campus. Two slate-gray
peregrine falcons are hunting small birds for their chicks, tucked
safely inside a man-made nesting box near the top of the MacKay
Heating Plant tower. Students, birdwatchers and passersby stare in
awe at the majestic birds, which can reach speeds of up to 200
miles per hour.
UB’s “pefas,” as birders call them, have had
their share of drama. In 2010, Smokey, UB’s male peregrine at
the time, was chased off by Yankee, a male from another nest, who
then hooked up with Smokey’s former mate, the tenacious BB.
Together they raised an impressive 11 chicks until BB’s
relocation in 2013 for aggressively dive-bombing people to protect
her babies. Yankee and his current mate, Dixie, proud parents of
three chicks last year, were looking after four little ones as At
Buffalo went to press.
Peregrines were once endangered because of insecticide use, but
thanks in part to a statewide partnership between local nesting
sites like UB and the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC), the state’s peregrine population has
rebounded since the early 1980s. Before they fly the coop, chicks
are banded at their ankles so DEC biologists can monitor their
location, eating habits and other activities, using the information
to better understand how to preserve the species.
In 2011, a live-streaming “falcon
cam” was installed at the nest to give the public a
closer look. A viewing
shelter below at Winspear Avenue also accommodates the
growing number of local birdwatchers, who follow every movement of
these remarkable birds.