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UMass Lowell to ‘Adopt’ Real-Life River Hawks

Rare Falcons Nesting on Campus to Get Official Names at Event

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Contacts for media: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

* M E D I A   A D V I S O R Y *

Tuesday, April 22
2:45 p.m.

WHAT:  For two decades, UMass Lowell’s athletics teams and its mascot have been called the River Hawks, named for the birds of various species that live along the banks of the Merrimack River. Now, the university is going to officially “adopt” the pair of rare peregrine falcons nesting on the roof of a campus residence hall as the official embodiment of the River Hawks.

First discovered living atop Fox Hall – the city’s tallest building and UMass Lowell’s largest residence hall – in 2007, the falcons return each spring. Two to three eggs are laid by the female and the pair watches over the eggs until they hatch into baby chicks. The university has worked with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and local birding enthusiasts over the years, first building a nesting box for the birds – believed to be among only a few dozen peregrine falcons living in the region – and then monitoring and tracking them. In 2008, a webcam was added to the nesting box to allow birders and others to watch the hawks as their chicks hatch, grow and take flight. This spring, the university upgraded both the nesting box and the webcam, which is accessible at

An event for UMass Lowell students, faculty and staff will celebrate the symbolic adoption and names for the falcons and their chicks, determined through a social-media contest, will be announced. The festivities will focus on school spirit and how having real-life birds in the role of the River Hawks will enhance both that and understanding of UMass Lowell’s resident falcons. Speakers are scheduled to include Chancellor Marty Meehan and Athletic Director Dana Skinner.

Representatives of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will be on hand to talk about the important role UMass Lowell has played in protecting the endangered birds. The event is free and open to the public.

WHERE:  Hawk’s Nest Café, University Suites, East Campus, 327 Aiken St., Lowell. Contact UMass Lowell media relations for directions and parking information.