In today’s developing world human and animal conflicts occur frequently. Unfortunately during these conflicts, humans are often unwilling to compromise to meet the needs of both the wild world and our own. This however, is a different story. This is a story where man breaks boundaries to find a compromise that works for both nature and man simultaneously.
The Peregrine Falcon exemplifies the collision of the animal kingdom and our own urban kingdom. Though still endangered in NYS, Peregrine numbers have been increasing in the region. One pair has made the University at Buffalo’s MacKay tower their home. UB generously welcomed the pair and, with the help of the DEC, installed a nest box and camera. Employees and students maneuvered carefully around the nesting area, so as not to disturb the busy parents. Since the installation of the nest box in 2009, 22 chicks have hatched and fledged from this site, a testament to the quality of the nesting site.
When UB realized that MacKay tower was in need of repairs, they knew the process would affect the nesting peregrines. UB has been holding off on the renovation of this 84-year-old tower that provides heat to the campus to avoid disrupting the nest site. These individuals, dedicated to the conservation of this rare species, teamed up with the NYSDEC to come up with a plan that would work for the falcons and meet the campus’s heating needs.
The team came up with the plan of delaying the construction so the peregrines could have a successful breeding season by hatching their chicks and raising them for the first three weeks. This allowed the parents to be successful, ensuring their return to the nest site in the future. At three weeks the chicks would be removed from the nest so that construction could begin and the tower could be repaired before next winter. This is where Hawk Creek joined the team.
The DEC contacted Hawk Creek because we specialize in birds of prey and have raised over 300 Barn Owls and hundreds more raptor chicks including Peregrines. We were thrilled at the opportunity to help. Upon admitting the chicks to the Center we called upon one of our best educational ambassadors, Blaze the peregrine falcon, for help to foster the three chicks. Blaze quickly took on the role of mom and adopted the chicks. By having Blaze raise the chicks we were able to ensure that these young falcons grew up with the influence of an adult peregrine falcon. At eight weeks old the chicks were fully grown and began exercising their wings and learning how to hunt their own food. After honing their skills the young birds were successfully released back out into the wild! All three birds, two females and one male, flew strong and quick to their freedom.