The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife are investigating why window washers sprayed a nest of endangered peregrine falcons living on a Jersey City skyscraper, causing two juvenile chicks to fall 41 stories.
The incident began in the morning on Sunday, June 16 when window washers entered the roof of the Merrill-Lynch building near the falcons’ nest box. When the workers entered the area, adult falcons began dive bombing the men in an effort to protect their nest and young. The nest’s long-running webcam, which has a worldwide following, shows water being sprayed on the nest and near a young falcon standing on the ledge. Two of the falcons jumped from the ledge, while the other appears to have been sprayed with water from above in an attempt to push it off the roof.
The endangered birds, hatched in May, were about a week away from being able to fly.
A spokeswoman for the building’s owner, Mack-Cali, said the company is “saddened and dismayed” over the incident. Falcons have lived on the roof of 101 Hudson Street in Jersey City for nearly twenty years.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation wrote on its Facebook page that the webcam “clearly shows that the window washers were aware that these state endangered birds were present and were actively trying to remove them from the area so they could do their job.” The workers were later escorted from the property.
On Monday, a state conservation officer investigating the incident found one of the falcons (BM/17) on the ground near a construction site. She was captured and transported to The Raptor Trust, a bird rehabilitation center in Morris County, where she was placed in the center’s critical care wing to be monitored, evaluated, and X-rayed for broken bones.
The other young falcon, however, remained missing.
“Everybody is shocked that this happened,” said Cathy Malok, rehabilitation director for the Raptor Trust, where the falcon was taken. “Even if you don’t know that these birds are endangered, it’s still a really lousy thing to do.”
The Liberty Humane Society of Jersey City reported the next Friday morning that it had found the second falcon (BM/13). The young bird was on the ground near 200 Hudson St. in the Exchange Place neighborhood when it flew off and hit the glass office tower at 185 Hudson Street. It was stunned, but not severely injured.
The bird was then confined in a cardboard box, and Bergen County Audubon Society member Chris Takacs took the second young falcon to Raptor Trust, where her sibling was being monitored. “At The Raptor Trust they told me she didn’t seem thin, so she probably ate,” he said. “She was also very vocal and feisty, a good sign of her strength and health… It’s been amazing how many people care and how many were out searching for her,” he said. “Hopefully this will be a good ending with lessons learned.”
On Tuesday, June 25th, Kathy Clark of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife dropped off the first young falcon (BM/17) who was found on the street the day after the incident. Watch as the bird is returned to her home and reunites with her sister (BM/18), who had been the lone fledgling remaining in the nest. What follows is an incredible interaction between the two young Peregrines. The video of their reunion can be seen here.
*In 2018, state researchers and wildlife advocates documented a record 40 nesting pairs after the species had been wiped out in New Jersey beginning in the 1960s. Twenty-eight pairs produced at least 75 chicks last year. Despite the progress, peregrine falcons are still listed as an endangered species in New Jersey.
Click here to support The Raptor Trust in their ongoing efforts to treat the last of the young Jersey City falcons and return her home.