Published June 19, 2014
State wildlife officials today safely captured a female peregrine falcon that had been nesting in MacKay Tower on the University at Buffalo’s 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 for permanent care.
Since 2010, the falcon has exhibited aggressive behavior by swooping down on people working on rooftops, as well as pedestrians on and near 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 will likely 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 web cam 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.