The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is pleased to announce, that in partnership with MassWildlife, a wildlife monitoring camera has been installed on the Gillis Bridge in Newburyport to monitor peregrine falcons nesting on the Newburyport side of the bridge. The Gillis Bridge nesting box, built by MassWildlife, was installed by MassDOT in 2017. This year, a camera was installed to take photographs of the box every 15 minutes during daylight hours. Images can be viewed at www.senserasystems.com/public/project/gillisbridgeperegrinecamera.
Members of the public can also view the falcon box from the Clipper City Rail Trail under the south side of the bridge; binoculars are recommended. Three falcon eggs were laid and it’s believed that at least one egg hatched earlier this month as an adult falcon was recorded feeding a presumed chick in the nest box. MassDOT will provide more updates on the falcons as they continue into the nesting season.
MassDOT and MassWildlife monitor nine other falcon nesting box locations statewide: Braga Bridge in Fall River, the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea, the Mass. Turnpike Bridge over the Connecticut River in Chicopee, Calvin Coolidge Bridge in Northampton, the French King Bridge in Erving and Gill, Chelsea Street Bridge in Chelsea, Muller Bridge in Holyoke, Basiliere Bridge in Haverhill, and the I-91 Deerfield River Bridge in Deerfield.
The nest program also benefits transportation infrastructure, as it is well known by engineers, (and birders), that bridges are a favorite roosting habitat for pigeons. The birds’ guano accumulates on bridge surfaces, increasing oxidation rates of steel, creating rust, resulting in increased maintenance needs. Fortunately, peregrine falcons excel at hunting pigeons. State biologists and engineers have seen reduced pigeon populations at bridges with nesting falcons. Nest boxes protect vulnerable eggs and chicks from the elements and MassWildlife biologists have observed an increase in falcon chick numbers occupying the bridge nest boxes.
Follow this link to learn more about the recovery of the peregrine falcon and other species in Massachusetts: www.mass.gov/service-details/rare-species-success-stories.
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