The Route 462 Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge across the Susquehanna River can chalk up three more additions to the state-endangered peregrine falcon population.
On Saturday morning, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and local volunteers used a “bucket boat” to reach a trio of three wide-eyed falcons, not quite ready to fly and smothered in down.
After being hoisted in a boom provided by Harcon Corp., a bridge design consulting firm from Strasburg, Arthur McMorris, the Game Commission’s peregrine falcon program coordinator, was able to reach the nest, located on top of one of the arches under the deck of the bridge.
Two females and a male, between 30 and 35 days old, were found. All were healthy. They were given medical exams and were banded on both legs so they can be identified later wherever they show up.
McMorris said the raptors could make their first flights from the bridge later this week.
A pair of peregrine falcons, listed as endangered in Pennsylvania and threatened nationally, have had a nest on the span linking Lancaster and York counties since 2010.
Volunteer birdwatchers usually locate the nest by watching the adults.
The first hatch, in 2010, was the first time in at least 63 years that rare peregrine falcons had successfully nested in Lancaster County.
Falcons had unsuccessfully tried to raise a family for three successive years before that on the Columbia-Wrightsville and Route 30 bridges.
A new falcon nest in downtown Reading this spring featured an adult female that had hatched from the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in 2011.
Before Saturday, banders had to walk and crawl under the bridge to reach the nest. But the bucket truck on a boat made the effort a breeze this time.