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Thanks to the efforts of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, the Peregrine Falcons were brought back from near extinction and found a habitat in Springfield, MA with a nesting site at Monarch Place.

The use of the pesticide DDT contaminated the Peregrines through their food and deprived them of calcium for their eggs. This resulted in thin-shelled eggs which broke during incubation producing no offspring, leading to the extinction of the species in Massachusetts in the 1950s; the last unsuccessful nest in the Pioneer Valley was sighted on Mt. Tom in 1951. By 1966 no nesting Peregrine Falcons were left in the eastern United States. The use of DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, allowing restoration efforts to begin.

Falcons are normally cliff nesters but have found that urban structures can offer suitable nesting sites as well. This is why the architect of Monarch Place, Yu Sing Jung, designed a Plexiglas nesting tray which protects eggs and chicks from falling over the edge and this tray is permanently bolted to a windowsill on the 21st floor. Peregrines mate for life and will often return to the same nest, year after year.

Amelia, named after Amelia Earhardt, was the original Monarch Place Falcon. She was born in captivity in 1985 and released as a seven week youngster in Toronto, Ontario. When she nested here at Monarch Place in 1989, it was the first time in nearly 40 years that the Peregrine had nested in Western Mass. Amelia died in February of 1995 at the age of ten when she struck a large glass window while hunting. Amelia, with her mate Andy, bred here at Monarch Place for her last six years, producing 21 eggs of which 13 hatched and were successfully fledged. It was feared that the sudden loss of Amelia during the breeding season may interfere with the existence of the Peregrine here in Springfield. But after six days, her mate Andy appeared with a female that had been born in the wild in a nest on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, NY, thus keeping the population here alive and well since 1989.

The Peregrine Falcons that make Springfield their home have not nested here on the 21st floor of Monarch Place since 2007 and we are happy to have them back! Mating season occurs in March and the female lays three to four eggs over a period of approximately seven days in late March or early April. Hatching beings in early May and flight begins at approximately 42 days for the males and 45 days for the females. It will take a lot of practice by these youngsters to perfect their hunting stoop; a high speed dive reaching over 200 mph, making the Peregrine Falcon the fastest member of the Animal Kingdom! Keep an eye out for them from your office window; you never know when you will see one Springfield’s amazing mascots speed by.


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