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Campus News

State relocates falcon to permanent care facility

Falcon capture

State wildlife officials earlier this week safely captured BB, the female peregrine falcon that has been nesting for the past few years in MacKay Tower on the South Campus. BB's recent aggressive behavior prompted state wildlife officials to capture her and relocate her to a federally permitted facility that would permanently care for her.

By CORY NEALON

Published March 14, 2013

“This type of behavior among peregrine falcons is unprecedented. By placing the bird with a rehabilitator, we will have prevented it from potentially harming someone and vice versa.”
Mark Kandel, Regional Wildlife Manager, Department of Environmental Conservation

State wildlife officials have safely captured BB, a female peregrine falcon that had been nesting in MacKay Tower on the South Campus.

The capture came after the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), determined it was in the best interest of the falcon, as well as UB and the surrounding community, to place the bird in a federally permitted facility to permanently care for the bird.

Since 2010, the falcon has exhibited aggressive behavior by swooping down on people working on rooftops, as well as pedestrians on and near the South Campus. The incidents occurred during late spring and early summer when the bird had newly hatched chicks.

Two such incidents—one in which a UB employee suffered lacerations to the head—were reported this month, marking the first time the falcon exhibited the behavior before May. The potential for more incidents led DEC officials to decide to relocate the falcon.

“This type of behavior among peregrine falcons is unprecedented,” said Mark Kandel, DEC regional wildlife manager, who led the capture effort. “By placing the bird with a rehabilitator, we will have prevented it from potentially harming someone and vice versa.”

The male falcon, Yankee, likely will find another mate and remain in MacKay Tower or it could be displaced by another pair of peregrine falcons, Kandel said.

Threatened by pesticides, peregrine falcons were considered an endangered species by the federal government until 1999 when recovery efforts prompted their removal from the list.

They are still listed as endangered by New York, which works to boost the state’s population of the bird. The effort is working, especially in Western New York, which has seven nesting pairs, up from one 20 years ago, Kandel said.

UB supports the state’s effort. For example, university officials installed a nesting box that the falcons used to rear some of the 15 birds that they produced. UB also featured the nest on a webcam to promote understanding of the birds, a practice it plans to continue after the male finds a new mate or a new pair moves in.

READERS COMMENTS

I have enjoyed watching these baby falcons hatch each year and then grow up and leave the nest.  If Yankee returns will the cameras still be on the nest?

Marge Winkler

There's nothing unprecedented about this. She is protecting her nest has her instincts tell her to do. She is no more aggressive than the average falcon. Placing her in a facility is outrageous. Release her somewhere else if her behavior is bothersome and allow her to be what nature intended. The real fear here is a human could hurt her.

Cheryl Welch 

I checked the falcon cam yesterday and there was a falcon perched there; it probably was Yankee looking for BB. What will become of him?

Sue Czerwinski

Be happy BB -- oddly, a nickname given to me by my baby brother some years ago.

Debi Gregory

I agree totally with Cheryl W. This bird could have been relocated to continue living what has thus far been a fruitful and wonderfully wild existence. Another unwise wildlife decision by the DEC.

MJ Graham

Why not locate Yankee with BB? Why separate them? That's just very insensitive.

Mary Ackerson

I read the article about relocating BB to a facility that will care for her. I am looking at the falcon cam and there is a bird sitting on the stick. Is that Yankee, her mate? Where is the facility where BB was taken to? Kind of sad not to see her anymore raising her chicks, but I can understand the reasoning behind what had to be done. I have watched them for the last three years and found it totally fascinating watching the chicks grow and fly! Hopefully, another pair will take over the nesting site, and not be a problem with attacking people.

Linda Zukowski

I just wonder if there were threats made against BB, and if that is the case, I can understand the relocation. However, I can't understand why she couldn't be released in the wild. She certainly proved she wanted to live free!

Sally Guerin