Falcons Return to Monarch Place Office Tower after 5-Year Absence
Falcons return to Monarch Place office tower in Springfield after 5-year absence
Published: Friday, March 30, 2012, 6:25 PM Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012, 6:28 PM
SPRINGFIELD – A vacancy sign has been hanging on a 21st floor high-rise residence here since 2007, but this week, a couple finally moved in.
Peregrine Falcons have returned to nest on the Monarch Place office tower on Main Street after an absence of five years. Two eggs appeared in the nesting box on the upper floor window ledge since Sunday, according to William A. Terry of the Falcon Management Corp., which manages the building.
“It certainly was a surprise,” he said. “Even though they haven’t been nesting here, they’ve been around the building through the years. So we keep a vigil this time of year.”
Thomas W. French, the assistant director of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, said the Monarch Place pair switched their nest site to the arches beneath the Memorial Bridge from 1997 through 1999 and from 2008 through 2011.
“Last year, while they were nesting, the tornado crossed the Connecticut River and hit the Memorial Bridge right where the nest was located. We assumed that the tornado blew the chicks off of the bridge and wondered if at least one of the adults might have been killed as well. I will be very interested to see if one of this year’s adults is a new bird,” he said.
French expects two more eggs to be laid on Monarch Place over the next four or five days. It will be about a month before the eggs hatch.
In past nesting years, the activities in the nest were broadcast on a local cable access channel, using a stationary camera positioned just inside the window where the nest is. Terry said he has contacted local cable providers but has not heard whether the broadcast might be revived.
Use of the pesticide DDT after World War II nearly wiped out falcons and other birds of prey in much of the United States. The chemical, which was finally banned in 1972, caused the birds to lay eggs with deficient shells.
It’s believed that 1955 was the last year any falcons nested in the state prior to the ban. And it took 32 years, until 1987, before an active falcon nest was again seen in the state – in Boston.
The first new falcon nest in Western Massachusetts appeared in 1989 on Monarch Place. A permanent nesting box was attached to the 21st floor ledge to safeguard the eggs and the young, and over the years, more than 30 young were produced at the nest by different sets of parents.
There may now be 28 or more falcon nesting sites in the state, French said, including sites on the Massachusetts turnpike bridge crossing the Connecticut River in West Springfield, on Mount Tom in Easthampton, on Mount Sugarloaf in Deerfield, on Holyoke City Hall, on the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and on a cliff face near French King Gorge in Gill.
State wildlife officials, who will likely come to Springfield to put identification bands on the chicks in May, should be able to determine the heritage of the parents by examining their leg bands, if they have any.