Apr 22, 2024


Falcon chicks in nest box

The New York State Thruway Authority is partnering with Veolia on a naming contest for the peregrine falcon chicks at the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Third- to sixth graders across Rockland and Westchester counties are invited to submit names until Wednesday, May 10. The public will vote on the finalists in a weeklong poll on the bridge’s website to select the winners.

“Over the years, young students have set a high bar by coming up with incredibly creative names, including Cardi Beak, Luke Flywalker, and Talon Zee,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said. “With Veolia as new partners, we’re thrilled that we’ll be able to bring the falcon naming contest to more schools in the region. Watching the endangered birds on our Falcon Cam has been a wonderful way for teachers and students to connect with nature over the past decade.”

“This contest will be a fun way to get elementary-school students talking about the importance of healthy ecosystems and their role in sustaining biodiversity,” Veolia Vice President and General Manager of New York Operations Chris Graziano said. “Access to water is a critical factor in defining the preferred habitat of many species–like these endangered peregrine falcons. We’re proud to work with the Thruway Authority and help expand this contest across Veolia’s Rockland and Westchester service territories.”

The Thruway Authority last held the naming contest for the peregrine falcons in 2021. Dozens of names were submitted by local students for the three peregrine falcons born that year. 

A pair of peregrine falcons call a nest box atop a bridge tower—some 400 feet above the Hudson River—their seasonal home. The female falcon laid her first egg in mid-March. Three more eggs followed within the week. The first chick was born on Earth Day, April 22. If the other three eggs are viable, they should hatch soon. Sadly, last year’s clutch of eggs did not hatch.

Veolia has begun soliciting names from elementary school students across Rockland and Westchester. Teachers and students this year also have the opportunity to submit a poster or short video explaining the reason behind their submission.  The submission deadline is May 10. A panel of judges will then review the entries and select the top 10 finalists for the public online poll, which will go live on the bridge’s website on Wednesday, May 15. Voting will be open for a week, closing on Wednesday, May 22.

The Thruway Authority and Veolia will announce the winning names on their social media accounts before Memorial Day weekend. The bridge will be lit in the colors of the winning school(s) in June and the winning classroom(s) will be invited to a special presentation featuring a certified falconer. Details will be announced at a later date.

Nest boxes have supported New York’s falcon population in recent decades, providing shelter and high vantage points from which the peregrines can search for food. In fact, scores of birds hatched at the Tappan Zee Bridge over the decades before it was replaced by the new bridge.

Those interested can watch the falcons in their nest box on the bridge’s Falcon Cam before they leave their current home. As the nestlings age, they are left alone for longer periods of time to learn how to hunt and survive on their own until they depart the nest after approximately 40 days. When young falcons mature, they often migrate great distances to establish nests and raise their own family. Peregrines primarily hunt other birds, such as pigeons and ducks, and can exceed 200 mph during their dives.

Name Our Falcon Chicks

The Thruway Authority, in partnership with Veolia, is asking students in Rockland and Westchester counties to help name the GMMCB falcon chicks. The bridge will be lit in the color(s) of the winning school(s) and the winning class(es) will be invited to a special presentation by a certified falconer.

  • The contest is open to 3rd through 6th grades, with a limit of one entry per class.
  • Entries are due by May 10.
  • Winners will be selected by the public in an online poll.
  • The winning names will be announced on social media before Memorial Day.