Volume 21, Number 1 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | May 16 - 22, 2008

Downtown Express photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio

Four peregrine falcon chicks named Cheyenne, Kaycey Lane, Megan and Leeloo were tagged Wednesday.

Waterfront view is a chick magnet

By Josh Rogers

There’s a live Web site showing naked underage chicks Downtown, but it’s not likely to be blocked by parental filters.

The four chicks, hatched April 24 - 26, are rare peregrine falcons living at 55 Water St. and were tagged yesterday.

The chicks — three females named Cheyenne, Kacey Lane and Megan and their brother Leeloo — are expected to be living on the 14th floor of 55 Water for a few more weeks under the watchful eye of their mother and Frank Magnani, vice president of special projects at New Water Street Corp., the building’s owner, which has graciously hosted the endangered species since 1999.

Mangani said no window washers will be allowed near the nest overlooking the East River while the chicks get ready to make it on their own. Their progress can be monitored on a live Web cam available at falcons.55water.com.

“It’s extraordinary to have this wildlife in the middle of the city,” Magnani said.

The falcons can fly at speeds of 180 miles per hour with the ability to descend rapidly when in pursuit of their prey. They often mate for life and have nested in many bridges in New York State.

Arturo Garcia-Costas, a spokesperson for the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, said there are only about 18 pairs of peregrine falcons in the Downstate area, which includes the Hudson Valley, Long Island as well as New York City, but the number is growing “thanks to the efforts of cooperating local building owners and others.”

Chris Nadareski of the city’s Dept. of Environmental Protection volunteers his time to the state to help keep track of the falcons, Costas-Garcia said.

Nadareski first rescued a falcon named Diane in 1998, after she crashed into a Wall St. building fracturing her wing. Her mate Jack stood by her and together they settled on Water St. the next year where they had nine more children. In 2001, Diane’s bad wing sent her into retirement at Cornell, where she still lives. Jack took up with J.J. and the pair stayed put on 9/11 as empty nesters.

“They didn’t leave,” said Magnani. “They were calm. It was extraordinary.”

Magnani said Jack has been displaced by the new chicks’ father and his whereabouts are unknown. He said the mother is docile compared to Diane and J.J., who would do whatever it took to protect their babies.

“Diane was vicious,” said Magnani. “She would attack a lot. She knocked one of my engineers to the ground.”

That incident occurred while the engineer was watching a ground breaking ceremony at the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial led by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Typically, when Diane’s and J.J.’s chicks were tagged, the mother would fly and try to get to them clenching their claws into fists, but the new mother sat docilely while they were tagged, held back with a pole.

Magnani said he was waiting to hear from the state the names of the current parents, but Costas-Garcia said if the parents do have names, D.E.C. would not release them because the agency’s wildlife biologist feels strongly that names encourage the public to think of the rare birds as pets.

Josh@DowntownExpress.com





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