The NJ DOT should put out the following ad urgently:
“GEM OF THE BRIDGE”: LBI FULL SEASON EYRIE RENTAL AVAILABLE FOR SUMMER 2016. You and your eyasses can enjoy deluxe accommodations with spectacular waterfront views this Summer. Conveniently located with quick access to the mainland and tons of pigeons. Just a quick flight to the Beach! Your whole family can create warm Summer memories in a delightful 12 square feet of reversed living space with a welcoming open floor plan allowing the whole family to eat, poop, and murder all in one place together while enjoying soothing Bay breezes. Enjoy full sewer services; just drop your bird beaks and feet into the Bay below and watch them washed away like magic. Brand new construction with all plywood flooring and concrete decking. MUST SEE!!!!11!!
You gotta’ love the good folks at the NJ DOT. Building the new Causeway is a monster undertaking, full of difficult, dangerous, and important work. Unfortunately, rather than getting the rounds of applause they probably deserve for ensuring that our Summer Vacations don’t begin and/or end with our over-packed vehicles falling into the Bay, we can guess they get mostly annoyed glares, frowny faces, tears, and other pleasantries from everyone trying to set foot on or off the Island during the more inconvenient phases of construction.
But the heart of the project and the folks responsible for it is demonstrated clearly in one tiny detail: The Gem Of The Bridge. Together with the good folks at NJ Fish & Wildlife, a gorgeous & exquisitely designed little Peregrine Falcon Eyrie (nest) has been pre-built under the new Causeway to help give the PEFA who attempt to nest there a decent shot at success in one of the most precarious places PEFA love to nest.
As described in the post Big City Burd, Peregrine Falcon are well adapted to Urban Living. They love our big, tall structures as much as they love the Beach. Unfortunately, bridges are always troubled when they’re over waters for the Peregrine eyasses (means babies… click here to meet some of our local baby monsters) While bridges are generally safe and pleasant places to hatch eggs, the eyases have the unfortunate habit of falling directly into the water and drowning the first time they attempt to fly. Success rates are low and NJ’s Peregrine Heroes like Kathy Clark & Ben Wurst have to work overtime to keep an eye on these nests.
But not only has NJ Fish & Wildlife + The DOT gone out of their way to not mindlessly & sloppily kill any adorable Peregrine Falcons during the new Causeway construction, they have gone above and beyond by adding The Gem Of The Bridge; perfectly and simply engineered using what we know about PEFA to help ensure that baby PEFA, like our vehicles, don’t plunge needlessly into the Bay.
Like any of us with small children we mistakenly cram into undersized rentals, the kids don’t get to move around enough, go stir crazy, and dangerous hijinks often ensue. The Gem Of The Bridge is a plywood platform that ingeniously links to the top of one of the piers, giving the PEFA the tight, protected seclusion they seem to enjoy, while also giving some room for the eyasses to stretch their legs and wings a little, building some strength and some skillz before taking that first dive off the bridge. This greatly increases their chances of survival. And even better, they are providing a safe and pleasant access ladder for Ben Wurst to monitor the nests so he too, like our vehicles and the baby PEFA, does not have to plunge needlessly into the Bay.
So the next time your heart is pounding with fear as you barrel across the bridge just two inches from oncoming traffic, or swerve violently to avoid a misplaced Jersey Barrier, or lose 20 minutes of valuable Island time stuck in traffic while some enormous truck does God-knows-what trying to turn around on Cedar Bonnet Island, remember the Gem Of The Bridge nestled beneath you and think happy thoughts about the good people who lovingly and thoughtfully put it there, and the generations of Burd Mangling Monsters that might launch from this special place and fill our Island with Wildness.
This is the best kind of Wildlife Management. Simple caring, simple thoughtfulness, simple effort. Yet it is still rare, and therefore extremely valuable and appreciated. It all starts with the simple realization that our Island is a wild, wild place that not only can we share it with the impossibly cool creatures that love it and depend on it as we do, but is so much better of a place when we do.
So from now on, every time you cross the Causeway, honk if you love PEFA & the good folks responsible for this! Wait.. no. On second thought, don’t do that. That would be really, really annoying. Both to the PEFA & to the good folks responsible for this.