Peregrine Falcon

Adam Chavez, a commercial falconer, holds Anna, a 10-year peregrine falcon.

City Hall employees are busy moving these days, taking things from the old building to the new glass edifice scheduled to open on July 29.

High on top of the 14th floor of the old City Hall, one group watches, uncertain of their fate. But the peregrine falcons will not be forgotten, officials say.

According to City Hall legend, two pairs of peregrine falcons were transplanted to the top of the building decades ago in an attempt to control the pigeon population. The birds of prey have survived and thrived there since.

Friends of the falcons raised the issue of their future soon after the decision to raze the old city hall became final. Some wanted to transplant them to the new, 11-story City Hall to continue the pigeon patrol. Others just wanted to make sure they survived the change.

Jennifer Carey, executive assistant at the Public Works Department, tracked down the status of the falcon plans.

"The city of Long Beach has engaged a professional biologist/ornithologist to survey and document the raptors that nest seasonally on the roof of City Hall," she wrote. "The birds have been surveyed several times so far throughout the new Civic Center construction process, and will be surveyed again in the coming weeks.

The city’s plans are to relocate the raptors and nest(s) to the roof of the new City Hall building, or to another suitable location, whichever is determined to be most appropriate for the birds by the biologist/ornithologist. Surveys will be conducted up to and throughout the demolition process for the old City Hall building, to confirm that the birds have successfully relocated, and to ensure that no birds, nests, eggs, or chicks are harmed throughout the construction and demolition process."

The latest plan is to conduct another survey after the move is complete and the old City Hall is empty. Then a decision will be made and a transfer executed before demolition begins.

No date for the demolition has been set yet, although it is expected within a year. The building must be removed before Lincoln Park can be rebuilt and developer Plenary Edgemoor Civic Partners can start work on its own development plans.

Until then, pigeons beware — the falcons haven't gone anywhere.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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