Rare Falcons Taking Flight at Massachusetts School

The home of the River Hawks has become home to real life birds of prey.

A family of falcons is perched 18 stories above the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus.

Massachusetts Wildlife officials conducted a routine check on newly born peregrine falcon chicks nesting on top of Fox Hall. The two chicks were banded by Tom French, assistant director of Massachusetts Wildlife. The bands help officials keep track of their progress across the state.

"We'll know where they go, how long they live, where they decide to start nesting themselves," French said.

This can be a dangerous job, because peregrine falcons are very territorial. When wildlife officials are going after the chicks to put the bands on, the parents can actually dive bomb the officials. Everyone nearby wore hard hats for protection.

The falcons are the fastest living things on Earth. They are capable of reaching speeds over 200 miles per hour, but in the blink of an eye, they were wiped out across the entire east coast.

"Peregrine falcons were gone from Massachusetts in the 1950s, because of DDT, the pesticide," said French. "Now, we've been working on their recovery."

The falcons are now considered a success story, with 40 pairs in the state. They often nest on top of tall city buildings in urban environments, preying on other birds for food.

A live a webcam has been installed by UMass Lowell that allows people to keep an eye on the chicks.

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