Two peregrine falcon chicks hatched in the nest box atop the W.E.B. Du Bois Library shortly after 3 p.m. on May 10.
The news was tweeted out by library staff who maintain a live webcam for falcon fans who want to keep abreast of events. They report that four eggs were laid around April 11, and it appears that both parents are new to the nest box. Neither adult bird is banded.
Peregrine falcons have successfully nested on the roof of the library since 2003. Library staff say that of the original four eggs in the box this season, two were lost over the weekend of May 6-7. One disappeared, and the other was eaten by the female parent.
Last year’s chicks were banded approximately five weeks after hatching by MassWildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program assistant director Tom French.
French says that among peregrines, the female is the larger bird and she has the responsibility of defending the nest against predators such as red-tailed hawks, while the male’s primary job is hunting. These large falcons are still endangered in Massachusetts, but their situation now is far more hopeful than it was decades ago.The longest-lived pair of Du Bois falcons nested from 2003-14 and hatched a total of 37 chicks.
Peregrines were almost wiped out by DDT in the mid-20th century. After the pesticide was banned in the 1970s, the wild population of peregrines needed help getting reestablished. UMass Amherst joined a program to reintroduce peregrines in the late 1980s and falcons have nested on campus ever since.
Since spring 2012, birdwatchers and ornithologists from around the world have been able to view the adult falcons and their hatchlings via the Du Bois Falcon Cam, a live stream of the nest.The live cam was installed as a project of the Facilities Planning Division, Information Technology, the Libraries’ Systems and Web Management Department, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Friends of the Libraries.
Library staff members maintain the live web cam and, with the help of two campus volunteers, tweet and post regular updates about the falcons on social media throughout the season.
Watch the falcon pair as they incubate, hatch and nurture this year’s chicks at https://www.library.umass.edu/falcons