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Critters of New York

Behold This Fiercely Majestic Falcon and Its Embarrassingly Awkward Chick

Please enjoy these delightful photos and video taken atop the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.

7:14 PM EDT on June 16, 2022

Someday soon that little fuzz ball on the left will turn into that screeching death machine on the right. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

High atop the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, 215 feet above the sand where lowly humans sip $15 nutcrackers, lives the peregrine falcon.

The peregrine has clawed its way back from near extinction, and soars the skies over the Rockaway Peninsula. Adults swoop down on pigeons and gulls at speeds of around 200 mph, decapitate their prey, and then bring the meal back to the nest. Truly awesome creatures.

But get a load of this little doofus!

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

Every year, scientist Chris Nadareski of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, climbs up to the nesting box on the Rockaway side of the Gil Hodges that is maintained by the MTA's Bridges and Tunnels Division, to tag the chicks that have recently hatched.

"See how they grasp into you? In another week those talons would go right through my skin. I'd be all full of blood right now if I didn't wear gloves," Nadareski said of the just-born peregrine.

Well guess what? It's not a week from today, it's today, meaning this little three-week-old female fuzz ball is still as helpless as the day is long, and there's nothing Mom can do but yell and yell.

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

According to an MTA press release, the tagging helps scientists keep tabs on the peregrine population, and also makes it easier to identify them if they're sick or injured. The MTA has been in the falcon-nesting business since 1983.

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

So when you're at the beach this weekend (Sunday's looking good) gaze up at the Gil Hodges and have a little giggle at this cutie's expense. In just a few days, she'll be all grown up.

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