Fastest Falcon in The World Finds A New Home
People who have worked in Long Beach’s City Hall since the 1980s have been aware of the presence of at least one pair of Peregrine Falcons nestled high above the scene of downtown. It is unknown whether these birds were intentionally lured to city hall or whether they chose that site by chance. One thing is clear, however. There aren’t many pigeons roaming freely in downtown Long Beach.
Peregrine falcons can be found nearly everywhere in the world, except for in the most extreme climates; such as the polar regions, extremely high mountains, and tropical rainforests. The species of raptor subsists on a diet of mostly medium-sized birds. Occasionally, they will hunt small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Solitary and monogamous, these birds of prey roam large territories; prefer high nesting sites. In urban settings, they prefer tall buildings; from where they can sight easy prey such as pigeons and ducks.
Whether the falcons were lured to City Hall, or found City Hall on their own; they have become a permanent fixture of the downtown scene, albeit one not well known to most folk. After it was discovered that a pair of falcons were nesting in City Hall in 1988, a team of UC Santa Cruz researchers installed a nesting box on a girder of the structure. They became interested in this pair of birds because the species was near extinction at the time. The use of the pesticide DDT was primarily responsible for the endangerment of the species during the 20th century. After the use of DDT was banned in the USA in 1972, the populations of both the bald eagle and peregrine falcon resurged in the wild. A testament to conservation of the species; there were only two known pairs of the falcons in the State of California in 1970. There are more than 300 pairs of these birds in California today.
The ongoing demolition project at the old City Hall needs to be sensitive to the needs of animals that have made a habitat of the location. Long Beach has long been a Green City. The City has become a model of sustainability and conservation for the rest of Los Angeles; especially in recent years under the leadership of Mayor Robert Garcia. However, as we develop and grow as a city, we have to protect the legacy of Long Beach and emulate good stewardship of all creature, large and small.
At the time of this writing, all important assets have been removed from the old City Hall and either recycled of or relocated to the new City Hall. There are no remaining staff. The demolition, removal, and abatement work is in full swing. In order to encourage the falcons to leave and to protect their safety during the hazardous work, the nesting box has been removed and any locations which the falcons might find attractive on the structure have been blocked by plastic netting.
The falcons have their choice of where to go from here. The most natural choice may be a relocation to the site of the new City Hall. However, the falcons may choose another site. Only time will tell.