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BOSTON, MA – The Museum of Science, Boston, in partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), is pleased to announce that a pair of peregrine falcons have found a home and laid four eggs so far in a specially designed nesting box located on the Museum's tower. Those interested can monitor the peregrine falcons via livestream at www.mos.org/falconcam.
Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds on Earth with dive speeds over 240 miles per hour. Peregrines can thrive in urban environments where buildings and bridges provide habitat similar to the rocky cliffs they traditionally use as nesting sites. These sleek predators are found on every continent except Antarctica.
The Museum's nesting box, now occupied by a pair of peregrine falcons, was first installed in December 2020 by MassWildlife after local birders observed the falcons hunting around the tower. Museum of Science staff worked with MassWildlife to find the most welcoming location for the falcon couple. In 2012, MassWildlife biologists banded the female as an adult at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, and she is now estimated to be at least 12 years old. The male has not been banded.
"We are proud that peregrine falcons have made a home here at the Museum," said Jackie Peeler, living collections manager at the Museum of Science. "As we talk about local species with our visitors in our new exhibit, New England Climate Stories, we are so excited to observe a conservation success story outside our Exhibit Halls as well. The Museum's Live Animal Care Center team is delighted to observe the falcons and work with the team at MassWildlife to educate our audiences."
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, peregrine falcon populations declined dramatically across the country due to the harmful effects of the pesticide DDT. By 1966, not a single nesting pair remained in the eastern U.S. After DDT was banned in 1972, MassWildlife began efforts to restore peregrine falcons to Massachusetts with the help of partners by releasing captive-bred chicks in suitable habitat. Eventually, these efforts paid off, and after several decades of population growth, peregrine falcons were removed from the federal endangered species list. Their classification in Massachusetts was changed from Endangered to Special Concern.
This marks the 36th year of peregrine falcon restoration in Massachusetts and MassWildlife continues to track the health of the population by monitoring nest locations and by banding chicks. As of 2021, at least 42 nesting peregrine pairs were observed from Boston to the Berkshires.
"Partnering agencies, organizations, and individuals help with our restoration efforts by monitoring nests and their young," says David Paulson, MassWildlife's Senior Endangered Species Review Biologist. "Nest box sites like the one at the Museum of Science help educate the community about species conservation and how we all can make a difference."
Each year MassWildlife biologists attach leg bands to chicks in late spring that stay with the birds as they grow into adults. Leg bands allow biologists to identify individual birds and track their movements, lifespan, and injury recovery.
Falcon eggs take about 29–32 days to incubate, which estimates hatching in late May. Following hatch, it takes about 5–6 weeks for the chicks to fully fledge (fly) from the nest. The public is invited to learn about these fascinating birds and follow the Museum's new residents this spring by watching the livestream.