“Lance,” Merri’s Former Mate, Passes Away

Lance perched. Image by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre


UMass Lowell is saddened to report that Lance, Merri’s former mate and the father of last year’s chicks, died on April 11. He was just about six years old. Lance was driven away by Chris, a new male peregrine falcon, from the Fox Hall nest site on March 29. He was found 10 days later, on April 8, on a rock wall at the Governor’s Academy in Newbury, Mass., very thin and unable to fly. He was brought to a wildlife hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

X-rays taken at the hospital revealed the cause of Lance’s blindness to his right eye: a shotgun pellet. Fox Hall falcon watcher Imelda Joson first noticed his eye injury last summer.

“Lance was a fighter and a survivor, but his last injuries were simply too much for him,” says Joson, who had been monitoring Lance daily for the last two years of his life.

She adds: " Because of his disability, he couldn’t defend himself and his territory from Chris. And as a result of his injuries, he couldn’t hunt for food and grew very weak."

If Lance had survived, the plan was to turn him into a captive educational bird, says Tom French of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. “The general protocol is not to release a one-eyed falcon back into the wild because the bird would be at such a disadvantage against a healthy peregrine,” he notes.

According to French, Lance was banded on May 24, 2010, at the New Balance building in Lawrence when he was about three weeks old. His siblings included one male and two females. Lance spent most of his young life in Plum Island before being spotted at Fox Hall in the summer of 2014. This was likely the first time that he and Merri had met.

In July 2014, Lance suffered a serious wing injury while fighting with another male falcon. He was recovered by veteran falcon watchers Dave and Ursula Goodine in a junk yard in Lowell and was taken to the wildlife hospital. After spending nearly three months in the hospital, he was released in Grafton on Sept. 30. Five days later, he made it back to the UMass Lowell campus and was reunited with Merri. In spring 2015, the couple successfully hatched and raised four chicks — two males and two females. All of them had fledged the nest.

UMass Lowell is committed to the welfare of its resident falcons and is working closely with state wildlife officials and conservationists to ensure a healthy and safe environment for these raptors to live in. We will keep you updated as to how Merri and her new family are doing.

Stay tuned and keep watching. Get daily Falcon updates by following them Twitter @UMLHawkWatch.