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Falcons 1, Commencement Banner 0

Birds of Prey Take Precedence on Fox Hall

A fledgling peregrine falcon on the day it learned to fly

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One really large banner was absent from UMass Lowell's commencement celebration.   The reason? Contractors hired to lower the banner (15' x 80') into place from the roof of Fox Hall, tallest building in Lowell, found a couple of angry parents-to-be already in residence on the roof.

The pair of peregrine falcons -- known and admired as the world's fastest birds of prey -- dived at the workers, who took cover as quickly as possible.

The birds have a clutch of four eggs near to hatching and representatives of the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife are coming to check the nest regularly, one of half a dozen or so peregrine sites in the state. "Nest" is a slight exaggeration, as the eggs sit directly on the gravel-topped roof. Perhaps it reminds the birds of their traditional cliff-top eyries.

The chicks will be banded about three weeks after hatching. Meanwhile, Ed Smith of the Facilities Department checks the birds and nest twice weekly.

And the banner can wait until next year.