NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Four falcon chicks that live on the George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to New Jersey have gotten identifying bands around their legs.
Their mother’s squawks competed with the din of rush-hour traffic on Tuesday.
The chicks hatched three weeks ago on a girder six feet below the bridge’s lower level. Their parents are among 20 pairs of peregrine falcons living in New York City.
Peregrine falcons favor bridges and other high places where they can spot their prey – other birds.
Wildlife biologist Chris Nadareski of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection gently picked up each of the George Washington Bridge chicks and banded them.
Nadareski also peered into the birds’ eyes and ears and spread out their wings to check for parasites.
He pronounced them all healthy.
Last year, a total of nine rare peregrine falcons were born atop the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
The MTA’s falcon couples and their new chicks are part of the nesting program that began in the city in 1983.
Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out in the 1960s because of pesticides in their food supply, and remain on the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s endangered birds list. The Throgs Neck and Verrazano-Narrows were among the first two nesting spots chosen by peregrine couples, who mate for life and nest in the same spot each year.
Banding takes place about three weeks after hatching when the chicks’ talons have grown to adult size. Each new chick receives an identification band for future monitoring by federal wildlife officials.
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