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Peregrine Falcon, 2016MassDOT’s  Highway Division and the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs’ Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife hosted an event on Friday, May 20 to highlight the joint Peregrine Falcon Nest Box Program and other cross-agency efforts to help with the recovery, conservation and preservation of this endangered species.

The event was held in honor of the National Wildlife Federation’s Endangered Species Day.

Four Peregrine Falcon chicks were removed from a nest box located on the Massachusetts Turnpike Bridge in Chicopee, and then fitted with two bands each that will be used to monitor and track the distribution and migration of this species. The information collected will be shared at both the national and state levels in order to monitor the conservation of this species range wide.

Peregrine Falcon Boxes 2016The Peregrine Falcon Nest Box Program is a joint program in which MassDOT and MassWildlife work together to identify bridge locations in the early stages on construction that may be conducive to hosting a nest box. The boxes are built and monitored by MassWildlife staff. According to MassWildlife, the boxes have been strategically placed at locations in which falcon breeding has been documented. To date, MassWildlife biologists have observed an increase in the numbers of falcon chicks produced by Peregrine Falcons using the protective boxes on bridges.

There are currently seven falcon nest boxes located state-wide at the following bridge locations:

Braga Bridge in Fall River, the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea, the Massachusetts Turnpike Bridge over the Connecticut River in Chicopee, Calvin Coolidge Bridge in Northampton, the French King Bridge in Erving and Gill, and the I-91 Deerfield River Bridge in Deerfield.

Peregrine Falcon nesting is beneficial to reducing long-term maintenance on large scale bridges. According to MassWildlife biologists, bridges serve as a roosting habitat for pigeons whose guano can pile up on bridge surfaces, trap moisture which then speeds up the oxidation of structural steel, creating rust. The rusting of bridge structures can then lead to an increase in maintenance requirements and can reduce a bridge’s lifespan. Since the Peregrine Falcons hunt pigeons, the likelihood of rusting due to pigeon guano is reduced at these locations where boxes have been installed.

The MassDOT and MassWildlife partnership known as “Linking Landscapes” was established in 2008. The partnership aims to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve public safety, and identify areas where habitats impacted by roads can be enhanced, protected or restored. It is also intended to streamline regulatory environmental reviews and collaborate on environmental issues during early stages of transportation planning and design work, and to implement wildlife and transportation research initiatives.

For additional information on the “Linking Landscapes” partnership, visit www.linkinglandscapes.info.

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