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The peregrine falcons that have made the Milton-Madison Bridge their home over the years have welcomed new additions to the family. Four eggs — laid sometime in mid-March — hatched this week in the new falcon box that was attached to the underside of the new bridge this past February. The new chicks will be banded by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in mid-May so they can be identified in the future. During the banding, the chicks will also be tested for diseases.
This is the fourth consecutive year during construction of the new the bridge that the female, Kessel, has laid eggs.
Kessel was born near Bedford, Kentucky, 6-7 years ago. The male, Asa Crane, is 16 years old and is named after the man who helped release him at a nearby power plant. He is the last breeding bird in Kentucky that came from the state’s release program.
Since 2002, falcons have been known to make the bridge their nesting spot. When the new Milton-Madison Bridge work began, the project took measures to protect them. As construction progressed, the falcon box was located on the Milton-Madison Bridge’s old pier #5 – the only pier that was not being re-used. It was replaced with a new falcon box underneath the new steel truss, and was not disturbed as the truss was slid into place earlier this month.
Peregrine falcons are no longer on the endangered species list, but they are still federally protected. It is illegal to harm or destroy a falcon or its nest. Peregrine falcons are strong hunters, diving at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour to prey on other birds in mid-flight.
There are only 13 known nesting pairs in Kentucky. One of those pairs includes a female that was born in the Milton-Madison nest two years ago. She and a mate now have a nest at the Dow Corning plant in Louisville.
Named one of the top 10 bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges Magazine, the Milton-Madison Bridge Project has been the recipient of several state and national engineering awards for innovation. For more information, visit MiltonMadisonBridge.com or follow the project on Twitter.