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Aww, the cute little birdies. :eat:

Top of Throgs Neck Bridge Is Home to Family of Falcons

There’s plenty of room for a growing family, and the views can’t be beat.

No, it’s not a $56 million penthouse condo at the Plaza Hotel.

The residence in question is a three-foot-square wooden box sitting atop the Queens tower of the Throgs Neck Bridge — about 36 stories above the East River, near where it intersects with Long Island Sound.

The specially built nesting box is home to a family of peregrine falcons, including four fluffy white and gray chicks that hatched about three weeks ago.

A wildlife expert for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and a bridge maintainer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Bridges and Tunnels Division scaled the bridge tower yesterday to place identifying tags on the chicks, which are all female.

Peregrine falcon families began making the bridge home in the 1980s.

The falcons nearly disappeared from the Eastern Seaboard in the late 1950s because of the effects of the pesticide DDT, which caused them to lay eggs with shells that were too thin. But they began a comeback in the city in the 1980s thanks to a conservation program to raise young birds and release them in the wild.

As a result, in 1983, two separate couples were spotted nesting in the city, on the Throgs Neck and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges. The Throgs Neck birds hatched two offspring that year, and their Verrazano counterparts hatched three.

In later years, more chicks were born on the bridges.

The transportation authority said in a news release that the birds took to bridges because they were similar to the high cliffs that once formed their natural habitat. The bridge tops give them a good vantage point from which to spot their prey.

The chicks eat four or five times a day, the authority said, keeping to a diet of pigeons, starlings and other smaller birds that their mother catches for them. In about three weeks, they will be ready to fly.

When the chicks are fully grown they will be the size of a crow, 15 to 21 inches long, with a wingspan of about 40 inches, according to a fact sheet on the birds prepared by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The authority said that another peregrine couple hatched four chicks this spring on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Those chicks will also be tagged soon.

The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal government’s list of endangered species in 1999.

The adaptability of species like the peregrine falcon to the “wilds” of New York City has frequently captivated residents. In 2004, a hue and cry arose when a co-op building at Fifth Avenue and 74th Street removed a nest that had been home to a pair of red-tailed hawks known as Pale Male and Lola. The co-op was forced to back down and build a steel cradle to hold a new nest for the birds.
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