There was still snow on the window ledge of the 21st floor of Monarch Place when peregrine falcons were first spotted this year at their longtime nesting site in downtown Springfield.
For nearly three decades peregrines have called a ledge on the 21st floor home. After a two-year absence the birds returned again this year, but this time there was a new mother, indicated by the bird's identification band.
The new mother, who Dr. Tom French from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said was far less aggressive than the previous mother, laid two eggs on March 31. Two other eggs were laid in the following days.
The first egg hatched on May 7 with its siblings coming into the world days later.
During a visit to the CBS 3 studios on May 15, French noticed one of the chicks in obvious distress. Because they are protected and the state is trying to increase their numbers, the chick was removed immediately and taken to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton.
Tufts Clinical Asst. Professor Dr. Maureen Murray said the belly of the chick was distended, most likely because it ate more food than it could handle. That chick was returned to the nest within a week, but it did not survive.
The one and only male falcon took its first flight in the evening hours of June 16. The falcon landed safely on a window ledge of the fifth floor of Monarch Place, where he remained for more than 24 hours. On June 17 he took his second flight and descended down to the third floor. He remained on the third floor until the morning of June 18, when he tested his wings again and ended up on the ground nearby Springfield City Hall.
That falcon was then brought back to its nest on the 21st floor and he immediately leaped into flight and began soaring around downtown Springfield. The bird's re-entry into the nest spooked one of its sisters and provoked it to prematurely jump, according to French.
The bird made it safely to ground level, but was taken to Dakin Animal Shelter by Springfield police. That bird was then brought to a bird expert in Deerfield, and eventually returned to Monarch Place by French.
This time, French re-introduced the female bird into its habitat on the 23rd floor balcony in order to not disturb the third and final bird in the nest, which was another female.
"The mother is very willing to accept this bird back. All we're going to do is turn it loose," said French. "It's almost routine for the first flight to end up on the ground and if they're on a cliff base and land in a field, it's not a big deal. However, having it land on the sidewalk can be troubling."
On June 19, the final falcon took off from its nest, though the parents have occasionally stopped in to eat their kill. The falcon was last spotted on a ledge across the street from Monarch Place, and French said he believes that is an indicator that the bird can fly just fine.
The falcons began nesting on the ledge on Monarch Place in 1989, and through those years, they have produced more than 30 offspring. A nesting box was permanently attached to the side of the building to safeguard the eggs and falcons.
The 21st floor is occupied by Bank of America, but an office entirely for the falcons has been set aside for years so they are not disturbed.
Four eggs were laid and successfully hatched in 2012.
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