Campus News

Restoration work to start at MacKay Heating Plant

Falcons flying near MacKay Heating Plant.

Restoration work at MacKay Heating Plant necessitates the move of the falcon chicks to a wildlife rehabilitator when the eggs hatch next month.


Published April 16, 2015

Restoration work at MacKay Heating Plant, which provides heat to UB’s South Campus, will begin next month.

The 84-year-old tower, which last underwent serious renovation in 1973, will undergo repairs to ensure its structural integrity, prevent water damage and ensure its long-term viability as a peregrine falcon nest site.

It is necessary to repair the tower in late spring and summer, when the heating needs of South Campus are minimal.

To prepare for the project, the university shut off the live video feed of the falcon nest in the tower. The camera will remain off for the duration of the work, which is expected to be finished in September. At that time, UB officials will reactivate the live video feed.

UB officials are working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and local wildlife rehabilitators to ensure the safety of the falcons. Several eggs currently are in the nesting box.

Because the work may interrupt the adult falcons’ ability to care for the chicks, DEC wildlife biologists will remove the chicks two weeks after they hatch, expected to be in the middle of May. The chicks will be placed with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora, and eventually released into the wild.

The tower will remain open to the adult falcons during construction. They are expected to remain in the area, protecting their territory.

International Chimney Corp. of Williamsville was awarded the contract after submitting a bid of $263,000. The work, scheduled from May to September, includes structural repairs to the masonry, painting the window frames and a new liner for the chimney stack.

A pair of peregrine falcons began nesting at MacKay tower in 2009. Since then, 22 chicks have hatched there. While not considered endangered by the federal government since 1999, they are listed as endangered by the DEC.

In addition to UB, there are eight peregrine falcon nests in the Buffalo Niagara region. They are at the Buffalo Central Terminal, Statler City, the Buffalo Outer Harbor, the Richardson Olmstead Complex, the North Grand Island Bridge, the South Grand Island Bridge, the New York Power Authority reservoir and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Additional information on peregrine falcons is available on DEC’s website.


I am supremely saddened and angry. Humans and animals can co-exist. The decision to remove these chicks and have the parents looking and instinctively trying to find and care for them is an inhumane action. Surely this project on the McKay Tower could have waited. Shame upon UB.


Henry Beston was right: "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."


Sharon Murphy

What is wrong with these people? Never mind, I already know. They are heartless. The very organization that we have in place to help our wildlife continues to make disgraceful decisions that do far more harm. Shame on them, they make me sick.


Linda King 

Totally unacceptable! You can't wait until the falcon chicks have fledged?  It's only a couple of weeks. Taking them from their parents at 2 weeks is just plain stupid. Just let them be. They may adapt and be just fine, even considering the work being done.


Patti Ollendyke

I have watched the falcons since they first came to UB. The first egg to be laid this year was on 3/22/15 at 7:15 p.m. There were two more on 3/28 at 2:15 p.m. I did not see the 4th and 5th one, but I do know that the 4th one was laid on 4/3.


My 4-year-old granddaughter started watching this year. I am very upset that UB made no mention whatsoever on the falcon page regarding the scheduled maintenance on the tower.


I look forward to this time every year as much as I do spring. Although it may seem silly to some, they are very special to those of us who watch and support them.


Going on the page this afternoon to get caught up and being met with news that should have been posted a month ago, I thought was irresponsible. I'm sorry, I don't want to sound rude. I am just hurt to be rewarded with 7 years of loyalty by a last-minute notice. This year was even more exciting because it's the first time that there have been 5 eggs. It mentions in the article that there were hatchlings. As of 9 last night, none of them had hatched yet.


Thank you for letting me vent.

Cheri Hodges