A habitat for peregrine falcons in a skyscraper (1993) lithograph, pastel and watercolor on paper
Proposal for a sculpture that provides nesting habitat for peregrine falcons in a skyscraper.
The building could be new or existing, and be located in almost any city in the world. Currently falcons dwell in most major metropolises where they nest on skyscrapers, bridges or church spires, and prey on pigeons and other urban wildlife.
A building's steel and glass skin would be pulled in to make room for the overhanging ledges of artificial rock. Inside, space is provided for public viewing. Unlike a zoo, the birds are not fed or caged. Here the people are confined. The falcons are free.
In many regions around the world the falcon's natural habitats and feeding grounds have been disrupted. Nevertheless populations are increasing, in part because they have found a niche in the growing urban grid. In some areas, the only active nesting sites to be found are in cities.
Conservation biologists at the Portland Audubon Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, the Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis have reviewed this proposal and say it can work with some modifications to the habitat’s glass wall as it’s currently shown here. Once established, a conservation organization such as a local zoo could manage the site and help educate the public.
Wild peregrines may, at some point, come to nest there on their own but a better strategy, called hacking, involves releasing young birds from the site itself. Fertile eggs are taken from breeding pairs and hatched in a laboratory. The fledgling falcons are then placed in special nesting boxes (hacks) on the skyscraper. Here the hack box will be placed on the rock ledges in the nesting site. Over the next 7 weeks a supervising biologist and hack site attendant feed and monitor the fledglings until they are able to fly and hunt for themselves.
Once established in the nesting site, a pair of falcons will remain there for years. In both urban settings and in the wild, a prime nesting site becomes well known to falcons in the region, and if the site is abandoned by one pair, it will likely be inhabited by another in short order.
The space adjacent to the habitat should be accessible to the public, with interpretive information as well as monitors streaming video feed from cameras in and around the nest. Other educational and interactive devices could also be provided that enhance the public’s experience.