UMass Lowell adopt, name rare falcons nesting on campus

One of two peregrine falcons who nest each spring on top of UMass Lowell’s Fox Hall is shown perched on the edge of the building’s roof. (Photo by Joson Images)

One of two peregrine falcons who nest each spring on top of UMass Lowell’s Fox Hall is shown perched on the edge of the building’s roof. (Photo by Joson Images)

LOWELL – At an event this week, UMass Lowell officially “adopted” a pair of rare peregrine falcons whose nest was found on the roof of Fox Hall, the city’s tallest building and university’s largest residence hall.

“Today, we are not only adopting the pair of falcons as River Hawks, we are recognizing the importance of the birds to our environment,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan during a celebratory event held at the aptly named Hawk’s Nest Café.

The symbolic adoption of the birds – which were officially named “Merri” and “Mack” for the Merrimack River over which they nest – celebrates school spirit as well as enhancing understanding of UMass Lowell’s resident falcons.

In 2007, workers found the the falcons nest. Working with the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, UMass Lowell made a nest box and erected a webcam to monitor the falcons beginning in 2008. The female falcon had been laying eggs on the cement roof out in the open as the birds do not make typical nests.

Earlier this year, the university upgraded the nest box and webcam, allowing birding enthusiasts nationwide to tune into the falcons. The newly “adopted” birds are believed to be among only a few dozen peregrine falcons living in the region. Since the university began the program, not all of the eggs have hatched, however they believe the pair has helped increase the number of falcons in the area.

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife continues to check on the falcons, banding their offspring to allow further monitoring once they leave the nest.

For two decades, UML’s athletics teams and its mascot Rowdy have been called the River Hawks to honor of the various bird species that live along the banks of the Merrimack River. This is the first academic year during which all of UMass Lowell’s River Hawk sports teams have been in the NCAA’s Division I.

UMass Lowell RiverHawks“The timing for the naming of our real-life River Hawks is an ideal one, as UMass Lowell is reaching new heights, on and off the playing field,” said Dana Skinner, athletic director and event emcee.

Since 2007, UMass Lowell has seen enrollment climb 45 percent, and is now the second-largest campus in the University of Massachusetts system. The university is also one of U.S. News’ top 100 public universities in the United States.

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