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UB Reporter

Campus News

DEC bands peregrine falcon chicks

By SUE WUETCHER

Published June 6, 2013

Biologists with the state Department of Environmental Conservation earlier this week banded UB’s peregrine falcon chicks, an annual ritual that allows the DEC to identify and monitor the birds for the rest of their lives.

The two female chicks and one male chick—dubbed “Bailey,” “MacKay” and “Winspear,” respectively—hatched about four weeks ago. A fourth chick fell out of the nesting box at the top of the MacKay Heating Plant tower over the weekend, according to staff from UB Facilities. Staff believe the chick was standing on the ledge and the wind blew it off.

This is the fifth consecutive year that a female peregrine falcon has laid eggs in the MacKay nesting box, located along Winspear Avenue at the southeast corner of the South Campus.

BB laid eggs in the nesting box the first four years; her original partner, Smokey, was driven off in 2010 by Yankee. BB and Yankee raised 11 chicks in the nesting box.

Yankee found a new partner, Dixie, this spring after BB showed unusually aggressive behavior and was removed from the nest by DEC biologists and placed in a permanent care facility.

Dixie laid her first egg on April 3 and three eggs followed.

The nesting box was built and installed in 2009 by UB Facilities staff working with the DEC and the Buffalo Audubon Society. UB needed permission from the state Office of Historic Preservation to install the box because MacKay tower is a state historic landmark.

Facilities staff also placed a webcam—dubbed “Falcon Cam”—in the nest in 2010, and upgraded the coverage the following year with a second camera to provide a view of the perch that extends out from the nesting box. That camera angle allows falcon fans to watch the chicks once they become mobile and go out on the perch.

The Falcon Cam has become one of the most visited of UB’s webpages.

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. Because they still are listed as endangered in New York, the state and partners such as UB are working to boost their numbers. Since 2009, 19 fledglings have hatched at UB, including this year’s brood.

READER COMMENTS

Thanks UB for hosting this nestbox. I've heard that a few elementary school teachers view the nestbox with their classes. This brings nature into the classroom and is an important teaching aid to learn about birds and lifecycles. Sorry to hear about the loss of one chick. Maybe a small board at the ledge could be attached to create a barrier. I hope UB will continue investing in the nestbox so more teachers can utilize this resource to educate our children.

C.S. Hunters

Thank you so much for the Web cameras on the peregrine falcons. This is my fourth year observing them from egg to fledge. For some reason, the angle of the camera on the nest box has changed and it is almost impossible to see the eyasses. All of us try to keep a "beak count," especially since we lost a chick recently. It would be greatly appreciated if the camera could be re-adjusted as soon as possible.  Thanks so much!

Denise Blackmore