ENDANGERED PEREGRINE FALCONS NEST IN MANCHESTER
April 26, 2001 - For the first time on record in northern New England, a pair of peregrine falcons is trying to raise their young in a city. Two falcons have established a nest and are incubating four eggs on a window ledge of a downtown Manchester office building.
This new falcon pair is nesting in a specially designed box first installed 10 years ago on the 13th floor of the New Hampshire Tower at 1750 Elm Street, near the Amoskeag Bridge.
The peregrine falcon currently is classified as endangered on the state's list of endangered and threatened wildlife. It was removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife in August 1999.
Widely known for their fast-flying hunting skills, peregrines are now found in many big cities across the country. This falcon pair is apparently the first in northern New England to establish a nest on a human-built structure.
"To peregrines, tall buildings resemble their traditional cliff habitat, and an abundance of pigeons, starlings, and other city birds provide them with an ample food source," said John Kanter, Nongame Program Coordinator for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "Because city peregrines prefer to perch on high structures, they rarely interact directly with people. But they do offer an excellent opportunity for many folks to see nature's predator/prey relationship in action."
Over the past 14 years, the Audubon Society of New Hampshire has documented a series of at least 13 different peregrine falcons that have spent some time in Manchester, mostly during the fall and winter non-breeding seasons, according to Chris Martin, senior biologist with the Audubon Society. Working with officials from Fish and Game and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Martin coordinates the state's peregrine falcon monitoring effort.
"People first saw these two falcons together in Manchester during the week after Christmas," Martin said. Since then, he and several Audubon volunteers have confirmed the individual identities of both birds by using spotting telescopes to read letters and numbers on the falcons' leg bands.
"Both of these falcons are very young and each is apparently breeding for the first time," Martin said. The female is a two-year old bird raised on the Throgs Neck Bridge in New York City in 1999. She also spent several weeks at the Manchester nest box last spring, but failed to attract a mate then. The male was hatched just last spring at Cathedral Ledge, near North Conway, New Hampshire.
"We've been working toward the goal of attracting nesting peregrines to Manchester for over 10 years," said Ben Nardi, President of the Tower Realty Group, which manages the New Hampshire Tower, where the birds are nesting. "We're all very excited that our efforts are finally paying off."
New Hampshire's 11 occupied breeding territories produced a total of 25 young peregrines last year, a state-record high for the nearly 30 years since the banning of DDT, a pesticide that harmed the birds' ability to reproduce. Martin anticipates that another good breeding season is currently underway. "If all goes well," he said, "we expect the Manchester falcons will hatch their young by around Mother's Day, and that other pairs scattered across the state will follow suit in the following weeks."
Across the rest of the state, Audubon is monitoring at least 10 other peregrine pairs that are nesting on cliffs. Volunteers who can identify birds of prey and who enjoy hiking or climbing can assist Audubon biologists who check for peregrines at active and potential nesting cliffs scattered throughout the state. To learn more about becoming involved as a volunteer, contact Chris Martin at the Audubon Society at 603/224-9909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has been conserving the state's wildlife and habitats since 1865.
The Audubon Society of New Hampshire is a statewide membership organization dedicated to the protection of New Hampshire's wildlife and environment. With over 7,000 members, the Society is actively involved in wildlife research and protection, environmental education, habitat preservation, and public policy issues through its seven visitor centers, 30 sanctuaries, and programs. For further information on Audubon programs, call (603) 224-9909 or e-mail at email@example.com.