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Verrazano-Narrows Workers Save Wayward Falcon Chick

A young peregrine falcon, one of the four hatched in May atop the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge, was scooped up and brought to safety after the fledgling recently made an unscheduled pit stop on the bridge’s upper level center median.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels Maintainers Ed Sheehan and Asif Subhan were in a sweeper truck doing routine cleaning near the Brooklyn tower in the early morning hours of June 17 when they spotted something on the small strip of curbing adjacent to the center median, which divides east and west bound traffic.

“I think I just saw a cat,” Subhan told his colleague. The two circled around in the truck to get a closer look and were surprised to see the female falcon standing still, staring at them. They immediately radioed back to the facility to let them know what they found. Maintainer Angel Acevedo and Bridge and Tunnel Officer Michael Chorynoy, who was on patrol, quickly joined them.

The bird didn’t have any visible injuries but was unable or unwilling to fly. The fast-acting foursome cornered the scared, young falcon. Acevedo deftly scooped the falcon up while Sheehan made a make-shift crate in order to safely transport her back to the Verrazano-Narrows administration building.

“It’s not unusual for young falcons just getting their wings under them to run into this kind of trouble,” said city DEP wildlife expert Chris Nadareski, who oversees the peregrine falcon program in New York City and bands the MTA chicks each spring. “It will take a couple of more weeks before they get full control.”

William McCann, MTA Bridges and Tunnels Director of Bridges South, said employees at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge are accustomed to dealing with all types of creatures that get onto MTA property from time to time but this was a bird of a different feather. “We’ve had to remove many dogs, cats, goats, deer, geese and even recently a snapping turtle,” McCann said, “but to look a predatory bird like this in the eye, knowing the kind of damage those talons and beaks can do and still scoop it up takes a lot of nerve. I’m proud of them for going out of their way to make sure the bird survived.”  Nadareski echoed McCann’s sentiments saying, “We appreciate how the employees always look out for the falcons and are willing to help them.”

The fledgling falcon was kept in a cage at the facility garage until New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife expert Barbara Saunders took her to the Raptor Trust wildlife preserve for hawks in Millington, N.J A vet gave the 7-8 week-old bird a clean bill of health and she was returned to her parental perch 693-feet atop the bridge’s Brooklyn tower on June 24. Nadareski said all went well. “She went straight into the nesting box and began squawking for her parents to feed her.”

 

 

 

Female falcon who took a detour onto Verrazano-Narrows upper level roadway
Female falcon who took a detour onto Verrazano-Narrows upper level roadway
This is what they looked like at about 4 weeks old when banded
This is what they looked like at about 4 weeks old when banded
Temporary digs that are not as nice as Brooklyn tower
Temporary digs that are not as nice as Brooklyn tower
(l to r)  BTO Michael Chorynoy, Maintainer Edward Sheehan and Maintainer Asif Subhan
(l to r) BTO Michael Chorynoy, Maintainer Edward Sheehan and Maintainer Asif Subhan