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Rare peregrine falcon pair spotted on City Hall roof

March 25, 2021 GMT

PEABODY, Mass. (AP) — A rare pair of peregrine falcons are hanging out on the roof of the Peabody City Hall.

The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, also known as MassWildlife, said the pair is one of fewer than 50 known in the state, the Salem News reported Thursday.

Two volunteers for MassWildlife first notified City Hall about the birds, the newspaper reported.

Ursula and David Goodine, of Medford, heard about them from a friend last week and drove over the next day.

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“The female was there cleaning her feathers. Two minutes later, the male flew in right above her. It was like a miracle,” Ursula Goodine said.

David Paulson, a senior endangered species biologist at MassWildlife, installed a nesting box for the pair on the roof this week. It is filled with gravel, meant to imitate the bird’s preference for nesting on rocky cliffs, he told the newspaper.

MassWildlife has not previously identified either bird, Paulson said. The agency tries to put leg bands on young peregrines in the state, and while the male bird has a band, Paulson said it wasn’t from them.

“We don’t quite yet know the male’s history, but we hope in time we can find out where he came from,” Paulson said. The female bird is not banded at all.

There is no guarantee that the pair will stay at City Hall or take to the nesting box, but Paulson said their sighting is a positive sign for Massachusetts’ conservation efforts of the species, which for decades were essentially eliminated from the state.

The birds were one of many species affected by the use of the pesticide DDT, which inhibited them from laying viable eggs.

Mayor Ted Bettencourt joked that his city is “a great place for young people to settle, and I think the falcons caught on and decided to call Peabody their home.”