(screenshot from cleveland.com)
Perhaps you saw the news Dick Rhoton sent me of the I-90 Inner Belt Bridge demolition in Cleveland last Saturday, but you might not have realized its significance to birds.
The bridge is gone, but not its peregrines.
The old span, built in 1959, was home to a pair of peregrines for all their productive years but was also rusty, corroded and becoming dangerous. Pictured below on a foggy day in a 2012 by Chad+Chris Saladin, you can see a pier of the new I-90 bridge being built to its right. The new span is finished now, carrying traffic in both directions while it waits for the eastbound lanes to go up where the old bridge stood.
Though a nest box was provided on the new span, Newt and Bolt chose the old bridge as usual this year and raised one juvenile who fledged at the end of June — all this despite the fact that demolition contractors were taking apart the bridge around them. By the time of the final implosion, their home was a gap-toothed structure with four of its five spans already gone.
Here’s a photo of the nest site in 2012 by Chad+Chris Saladin. Look at the condition of that bridge! Traffic was still using the bridge when this picture was taken.
Everyone worked together to make sure the peregrines were safe. As demolition day approached, Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), Ohio Dept of Transportation(ODOT) and the demolition contractor discussed the peregrines’ status and decided that with two weeks of flight experience the juvenile would be able to get out of the way. The remaining danger was that the birds might be perched on the old structure during the explosion so the contractor scheduled a warning blast to tell the birds to evacuate.
Saturday morning Laurie and Jenny from DOW were stationed with binoculars and spotting scope to watch for the peregrines. The warning blast went off five seconds ahead of the main blast and then …. BOOM! Click here or on the screenshot at top to watch the bridge collapse.
After the dust cleared at least two, maybe all three peregrines, were found. As Chris Saladin wrote:
“I’m thrilled to report that the juvie and at least one adult were spotted by DOW’s Laurie and Jenny following the explosion of the remaining parts of the dismantled old I-90 Bridge this morning!! We would assume that both adults are probably okay, since two of the three peregrines were spotted (and if the juvie “sensed” her need to leave the structure one would assume that each adult would have an even more developed sense of danger and would know to depart). … [Laurie] let us know that after the “dust cleared” she and Jenny were able to see the juvie through the spotting scope and then saw an adult fly by the juvie. Additionally, Tom from ODOT let Laurie know that as DOW was moving to a different angle for viewing he saw one adult plucking prey on a top beam of the fallen span, about 30 feet off the ground!”
We hope Newt and Bolt will find the nest box on the new bridge just as inviting as the old one. It will be impossible to “go home” next spring.
(top photo is a screenshot from cleveland.com. Click on it to read the whole story. Remaining two photos by Chad+Chris Saladin)