UMass Falcon chick
University News

Campus Community Helps Name Falcons

What do UMass Amherst’s outgoing chancellor, the commonwealth’s official berry and the “UMass Omelet Lady” have in common? They all now have a peregrine falcon named in their honor.

For the third consecutive year, the W. E. B. Du Bois Library solicited the community’s help in naming the university’s latest brood of falcon chicks—and the naming suggestions did not disappoint. In fact, a record number of people joined in the fun. As a bonus, the parents of the three chicks were also named this year.

Joanne Keller and husband
"Omelet Lady" Joanne Keller shows off her falcon swag
with her husband

The two male chicks, Swamy and Apollo, are named after Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, who is retiring at the end of June, and the Greek god of the sun. The lone female chick is named Joanne, after Joanne Keller, affectionally known as the UMass Amherst “Omelet Lady.” Before her retirement in 2020, Keller was a fixture at the omelet station at the Hampshire Dining Commons—serving up made-to-order delicacies to students as part of the university’s top-ranked dining program.

The brood’s mother, who hails from a Verizon tower in Brockton, is now named Cranberry, after the official berry of the commonwealth. The father, who originated from the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Bridge in Hadley and Northampton, is named Webster, after the initials W. E. B. in the name of the library.

This is the second year that the university’s resident rooftop raptors have opted to reside in an old nest box on Thompson Hall. The falcons’ traditional roost on the W. E. B. Du Bois Library has been renovated in hopes that it’s reinhabited next year.

Meanwhile, it is the season for fledging—when the falcon chicks leave the nest and start to take flight. It’s a process that’s not always easy. Anyone who spots a falcon chick on the ground is urged not to pick it up and contact Richard Nathhorst, research facilities manager, at 413-530-5424 or 413-545-6497, or the library at 413-545-2623.