Alert drivers will quickly recognize that rusty ‘ol, saucy green bridge as LBI’s very own Causeway.
Un-alert drivers will recognize that adorable Peregrine Falcon “Billie”, lovingly known as 38/AK. (Un-alert because your recognition betrays the fact that you’ve been looking at the tops of the construction cranes while flying over the Causeway, which is not recommended on account of the fact there is only 2.5 inches of shoulder-margin-of-error on that bridge currently).
As discussed here recently in Big City Burd, PEFA are city-folk at heart, and well adapted to urban living. But much as their adorableness perched atop our water towers becomes problematic when they start showering the squad cars below with blood and dead bird parts, their fondness for nesting snuggly under bridges becomes a problem when those bridges are slated for total destruction.
Billie is a Maryland Gurl from Range Light, a Lighthouse just outside of Baltimore. She was born of a New York PEFA shacked up in Baltimore at the time. One of four sisters, Billie was lovingly banded as a chick on May 24, 2013 by Craig Koppie.
Perhaps she followed the trail of Baltimore The Snow Owl here, and stayed once she saw our own Barnegat Light House, trying in vain to score the view at the already-booked-for-the-season Tower of Doom, and settling for the available Causeway instead. Whatever the case, she is currently nesting with a mysterious mate under the bridge, and constantly mentioning to her mate about how much smaller the crabs are here, as people from Maryland are sometimes wont to do.
The rebuilding of the Causeway is an epic and important project. It is also some dangerous work. I feel for anyone operating heavy machinery who then has the added threat of a PEFA trying to tear your face off if you happen to get to close to the nest. But the mood on the site is good, and people seem to be enjoying these unexpected celebrity guests. Watching the world’s fastest animal mauling pigeon while you work is always a pleasant distraction.
PEFA pack an unbelievable amount of attitude into a pretty small package. They are tough, funny, self-reliant, and insanely practical little monsters. They are perfect representatives of the character of LBI, and of hard working New Jersey in general. They are almost impossible not to admire.
But Kathy Clark is keeping a close eye on the situation, with cooperation from the NJ DOT. Longtime Readers will remember the happy story of Holgate’s Bridgette: A Burd With A Backstory. Statistically, PEFA don’t do well under bridges. The eggs and nestlings are probably perfectly safe thanks to the cooperation of the DOT. But when they are finally ready to take that mysterious first leap off the bridge, learning to fly-by-trial (called “fledging”), the probability of death-by-an-enormous-number-of-things goes parabolic. Starting with drowning, and ending with wrecking balls.
Luckily, we can rest assured our own Kathy Clark has a whole bunch of tricks up her sleeve to see them through, including fostering any in-danger chicks to another nest that has tons of spare pigeon and could care for them.
And if she can’t find enough foster-nests for them, I’ve already offered to foster one for us myself: in my living room. I don’t have any pigeon, but I bet they will really, really like it when I pet them.