BOSTON, April 3, 2014 – Every spring since 2007 a pair of Peregrine Falcons—one of only about 30 pairs in the state—has returned to the top of UMass Lowell’s 18-story Fox Hall dormitory to rear their young. This year the university has installed the River Hawk Falcon Cam, a 24-7 video stream praised by wildlife enthusiasts , as well as the MSPCA-Angell, which views the project as a signature example of how to peacefully coexist with wildlife.
The falcon pair nesting atop Fox Hall has produced 15 offspring in the seven years since they were first discovered while workers were hanging a banner from the roof of the dormitory. Since that time the falcons have become part of the university family, whose spring arrival is eagerly anticipated by students, faculty and the community of bird watchers who flock to campus to see the majestic birds.
“We hope Peregrine Falcon enthusiasts will join us at UMass Lowell as we adopt this special pair and their chicks as honorary ‘River Hawks,’” said Chancellor Marty Meehan. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that this building is a perfect site for the pair to raise their young.”
Historically, all Peregrine Falcons nested on high cliffs, but in the past three decades have also moved to the ledges of skyscrapers in cities across North America.
Name the Chicks Contest
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has been instrumental in tagging and tracking chicks born at the site in the last seven years. “So much of our work is focused on protecting wildlife and the habit they need in order to thrive,” said the division’s lead endangered species biologist, Tom French. “Increasingly as wild lands are developed—falcons and other animals are forced to find alternative places to nest and rear their young. Despite these challenges the chicks born atop Fox Hall have been thriving in the years we’ve been tracking them, and we applaud the university for allowing their parents to continue to take advantage of this safe space.”
Now, with the live video stream installed, the university is inviting students to name the three to four chicks likely to hatch in mid-April. “The naming contest is a way for students to feel an even stronger connection to these birds—and indeed all wildlife—without interfering in any way with their natural behaviors.
The deadline for suggestions is April 4 and a university committee has been established to select the winners. Suggested names can be emailed to email@example.com and the university will also take suggestions on its Facebook and Instagram pages. The winning names will be announced at special ceremony on April 22 to commemorate Earth Day and to welcome the newest chicks to be born at UMass Lowell.
Perfect Example of Living Peacefully with Wildlife
For decades the MSPCA has been on the front lines of educating the public on the various means by which we can peacefully coexist with wildlife through humane, long-term, and cost-effective resolutions of human-animal conflicts. “The River Hawk Falcon Cam is the perfect example of an organization—in this case UMass Lowell—doing everything it can to accommodate wildlife that is benefiting tremendously with access to the nesting box,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy, MSPCA-Angell. “UMass Lowell is helping this pair contribute mightily to the recovering peregrine falcon population and, as a special bonus, inviting the world to watch. It’s fantastic.”
Hagen explained that UMass’ conservation efforts are one of myriad efforts to help recover peregrine falcons, currently listed on Massachusetts’ endangered species list. “Use of pesticides, including DDT after World War II decimated the population, and by 1966 not a single pair remained in the Eastern United States,” she said. Fortunately a nationwide ban on the use of DDT in 1972, as well as strict regulations and conservation measures have helped aid in the falcons’ recovery in Massachusetts. The pair in residence at UMass Lowell is one of one around 30 in the state.
The MSPCA’s Living with Wildlife homepage includes resources and educational material designed to help individuals, business and communities coexist with wildlife. To learn more readers can click here.
The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mspcaangell