Portage Lake Lift Bridge falcons ready to leave the nest

In 2012, the Michigan Department of Transportation built two peregrine falcons nests on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Houghton in an effort to patrol the pigeon population, and now the baby falcons are starting to leave the nest.  The boxes were placed on the north and south towers.

After failing to mate last year, the falcons nested again this year and hatched three eggs in mid-June.

Bridge Operator Robert Paavola said the idea was one of many used to battle the pigeon problem.

“Just trying to either deter them from hanging out on the bridge so much or keep them off of here because a lot of droppings are not only hazardous to your health but they’re quite corrosive to the metal as well on the bridge,” he said.

Paavola said the peregrine falcons are getting the job done, and not necessarily because they are killing the pigeons.

“They don’t hang around here anymore like they used to,” he said.  “Their population is down to where you can count them on your fingers on one hand probably, so it’s worked quite well.”

The peregrine falcon is listed as an endangered species in Michigan.  MDOT also has nesting boxes on the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie and the Mackinac Bridge.