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Shore Park and Parkway

Shore Road Park - Peregrine Falcons in New York City

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

From this spot in Shore Road Park, one can enjoy a splendid view of the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge, which opened on November 21, 1964 to much celebration. At the time, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. Today, in addition to marking the start of the annual New York City Marathon, it is also an adopted home of the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) one of the environmental movement’s greatest success stories.

Until the middle of the 20th century, the crow-sized, dark-capped, blue-gray peregrines ruled the skies and rocky mountaintops from Alaska all the way to Georgia, preying on smaller birds such as sparrows and pigeons. One of nature’s most skilled hunters, the peregrine falcon dive-bombs its prey at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Capable of flying at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in level flight, the peregrine is one of the world’s fastest birds.

But in the 1950s and ‘60s, the chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), used widely in agricultural pesticides, found its way up the food chain. The sparrows, pigeons, and other small birds that peregrines hunted fed on insects contaminated with DDT. Due to the process of biomagnification, DDT accumulated in the peregrines, causing their eggs to become too weak to even support the weight of the mother incubating her eggs. The eggs shattered before fledglings could hatch. By the time DDT was finally banned in 1972, there was not a single peregrine falcon left east of the Mississippi.

When the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, peregrine falcons were one of the first species to receive protection. Restoration efforts were launched throughout the 1970s and ‘80s; during that time, 150 young captivity-bred Peale’s peregrine falcons (the eastern peregrine subspecies being extinct) were released in New York State, to reclaim nesting sites in the rocky peaks and crags of the Adirondacks and Hudson River Palisades.

Over the years, peregrines have moved farther and farther into New York City, taking up residences on the exteriors of skyscrapers and bridges. Pairs of peregrine falcons have been found nesting on the window ledges of such buildings as the Metropolitan Life Building (1 Madison Avenue), the Bank of New York (48 Wall Street), and the St. Regis Hotel (2 East 55th Street) in Manhattan. In addition to the Verrazano Narrows and Throgs Neck bridges, peregrines have been seen on the Manhattan tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as on an old gun turret on the Marine Parkway. These man-made aeries provide perfect residences for the birds – isolated, easily approachable by air, and with great views of territory and of prey.

By 1999, the peregrine falcon had recovered sufficiently to be moved off the Endangered Species List. Over 145 falcons have been successfully hatched and banded by biologists in New York City since 1983, and have been found raising their own families as far away as Baltimore and Wisconsin.

Park Information

Directions to Shore Park and Parkway

Know Before You Go

ParkShore Park and Parkway

The Shore Parkway Greenway will be temporarily closed just east of the Knapp Street access point due to hurricane relief work to be performed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The bike lane will be detoured during construction. The planned detour for the bike lane will be through part of the western half of the parking lot and will be connected to the existing bike path on both ends of the detour lane. The current plan is to allow the bike path to remain open, with the detour, during the entire construction period.
Anticipated Completion: Winter 2014

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Shore Park and Parkway Weather

  • Thu
    Chance Showers
    40°F
  • Fri
    Mostly Sunny
    40°F
  • Sat
    Mostly Cloudy
    42°F
  • Sun
    Mostly Cloudy
    53°F

7-day forecast

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