ENVIRONMENT

Peregrine falcons continue to nest on Union County Courthouse roof

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

For years peregrine falcons have called the roof of the Union County Courthouse home. The location — the tallest building in Elizabeth — has been a sort of peregrine falcon Game of Thrones over the years with female falcons fighting over the location to lay their eggs.

Through a webcam, biologists are able to see that this year’s female hatched three chicks. Biologists climb to the roof, safely remove the chicks from the nest, and carry them down a ladder in bags in order to tag and track the population. While out of the nest, scientists also take blood samples to check on the chicks’ health.

Widespread agricultural use of the pesticide DDT in the 50s and 60s decimated the peregrine falcon population for years. But in the late 70s, state scientists brought peregrine falcons back to New Jersey from other states. Experts say the birds adapted well to the environment, enjoying vantage points on bridges and skyscrapers where they can look for prey.

Last year scientists from the state in partnership with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation recorded 40 known pairs of peregrine falcons in the Garden state and the population is increasing steadily.