CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – It may have looked like bridge construction, but what the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was actually doing beneath the Mass Pike in Chicopee Friday was assisting the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
They were removing Peregrine Falcon chicks from their nest underneath the Mass Turnpike bridge so they could be banded. It was a delicate operation as the baby birds’ parents circled above.
A total of four chicks were taken from the nest. The Peregrine Falcon chicks have been measured and fitted with leg bands.
“Well, banding is done because we really need to identify the individual birds so we can follow them through life how far they go from birth to breeding, how long they live, what kind of problems they encounter,” said Tom French, Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
French says that Peregrine Falcons completely disappeared from the state in the 1950s, and they’ve been working to restore their population since the 1980s.
“It was listed as endangered here in Massachusetts, and we’ve taken it down to threatened, and it’s really getting close to coming down even further,” French said.
Peregrine Falcons are also helpful in controlling the pigeon population. “The pigeons do tremendous damage to our bridges. They roost up under the bridges and their waste just eats away at the steel, so we put the boxes up to help Mass Fish and Wildlife, and they in turn really help with our maintenance on our bridges.” said Patrick Paul, the District Highway Director for District 2 of the MassDOT.
Once the banding was finished, the chicks were carefully brought back and once she decided it was safe, their mother returned back to the nest.