Three fuzzy peregrine falcon chicks hatch atop Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

peregrine falcon chick at verrazzano-narrows bridge
Three new peregrine falcon chicks hatched atop the Brooklyn Tower of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge this month.
Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann/MTA

Three adorable peregrine falcon chicks hatched this month in a purpose-built nest atop the nearly 700-foot-tall Brooklyn Tower of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.

The three chicks hatched in early May in a special box containing their nest, said the MTA, which administers the bridge. The box was purpose-built for the peregrine falcon, which is the fastest animal in the world, capable of flying at 200 miles per hour while hunting for prey.

A peregrine falcon chick on top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA
peregrine falcon chicks
The chicks hatched in a special nest box earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann/MTA

Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out in New York in the 1960s owing to the widespread use of deadly pesticides like DDT, which infected their food supply. In the 70s and 80s, the state released captive falcons into the wild, hoping they would breed and restore the species, which is still listed as endangered.

Falcons prefer building their nests in high places, like atop bridges or skyscrapers, but they do not build secure stick nests for their young like other birds, so the eggs are in danger of falling.

peregrine falcon chicks at verrazzano bridge
The nest box was purpose-built for the falcons. Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann/MTA
peregrine falcon
A peregrine falcon in flight near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann/MTA

As such, state agencies have built boxes filled with gravel in popular nesting areas atop bridges and in other high perches, aimed at keeping the falcon young safe at the most vulnerable time of their lives. Aside from the Verrazzano, falcon nests sit atop the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge and on every crossing of the Hudson River south of Albany.

On May 24, Department of Environmental Protection scientist Chris Nadareski climbed to the top of the Brooklyn tower to affix identifying bands on the birds, for research purposes and to monitor for sickness or injury. Nadareski returns to the site each year for banding, as peregrine falcons tend to lay their eggs in the same nesting spot over and over. Other than banding, the state generally leaves the birds alone.

NYC Department of Environmental Protection Research Scientist Christopher Nadareski checked on three newly hatched peregrine falcon chicks in their nest atop the Brooklyn tower of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on May 24. Photo courtesy of Marc A Hermann/MTA
Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
The next box is perched at the top of the Brooklyn Tower of the bridge. Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann/MTA

Peregrine falcons predominantly feast on a diet of smaller birds like pigeons, which are (obviously) in plentiful supply in New York. As of 2019, there were 25 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons living in the city, which according to state officials may be the largest number of falcons in any city on Earth.

The falcons are among dozens of species of wildlife who are raising their young in Brooklyn. Warmer weather attracts hundreds of birds and other animals — including whales and dolphins — to Kings County — a good sign, for some, of cleaner waterways and more hospitable habitats. 

A version of this story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site amNewYork Metro