Restoration work begins at MacKay Heating Plant

Published June 4, 2015

Work to repair the 84-year-old MacKay Heating Plant on the South Campus has begun.

The tower, which last underwent serious renovation in 1973, must be repaired to ensure its structural integrity, prevent water damage and ensure its long-term viability as a peregrine falcon nest site.

It is necessary to do the work in late spring and summer, when the heating needs of the South Campus are minimal.

Earlier this spring, the female peregrine laid five eggs — three of which successfully hatched. (One egg went missing from the nest box and the other did not hatch, which is common in nature and often due to developmental abnormalities.) 

On May 26, state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologists removed three healthy falcon chicks — two females, one male — from the nest box atop the tower.

The chicks, which hatched earlier this spring, were placed with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora. They are being cared for and have even been “adopted” by one of the center’s adult peregrines.

The chicks will finish their development at Hawk Creek, where they’ll be flight-trained and taught to hunt and kill live prey before being released into the wild.

The adult pair at MacKay, meanwhile, have been observed regularly at the nest site. They are expected to remain in the area and use the nest box.

UB officials previously shut off the live video feed of the falcon nest in preparation of the work. The camera will remain off for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed Sept. 4. At that time, UB will reactivate the live video feed.

International Chimney Corp. of Williamsville was awarded the repair work contract after submitting a bid of $263,000. The project includes structural repairs to the masonry, painting the window frames and a new liner for the chimney stack.