by Robert Kimmel –
While they have substituted their whitish baby feathers for brownish, more mature plumage, the four young falcons perched in a box nest atop the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge have also acquired names. Hatched early in May, the four chicks were the subject of the 2019 Falcon Naming Contest set up by the Thruway Authority’s Project Team. The public was asked to select a favorite name from a list of 10 submitted by local elementary and middle school classes.
More than 1,500 voters participated in the online poll and chose Talon-ted, Cardi Beak, Rio and Speedy as their picks, as announced by the Project Team. The Team will also be visiting the classes which provided the four selected names to present them with award certificates, and offer more information about the falcons.
Winning classes anticipating the visits this month are at Tarrytown’s Washington Irving Intermediate School, the Claremont Elementary School in Ossining, and Concord Road Elementary School in Ardsley.
The young peregrine falcons may be able to venture flights this month from their man-made nest which is near the top of one of the bridge’s eight 419-foot towers. Fans of the falcons are able to watch them on the Project Team’s on-site camera, at the FalconCam webpage, https: //www.newnybridge.com/peregrine-falcons.
The chicks grow quickly. Within three weeks, they can be ten times the size they were at birth. Adult peregrine falcons are able to dive at speeds reaching 200 miles an hour to catch their prey, making them the fastest birds flying.
Peregrine falcons are classified as endangered birds in New York, and the State has constructed nesting locations on several major bridges across the Thruway’s routes, assisting the bird’s population. Only a small percentage of falcon chicks survive to adulthood. The adult falcons at the Cuomo Bridge are believed to be the same pair which inhabited a similar nest on the old Tappan Zee Bridge for several years. Falcons mate for life. Within the United States and Canada, there are only about an estimated 1,650 breeding pairs.