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Falcons Disappear From Longtime Nest in Financial District Skyscraper

 Jubilee with her chicks at 55 Water St. in the spring of 2010.
Jubilee with her chicks at 55 Water St. in the spring of 2010.
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Barbara Saunders

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The peregrine falcons that have nested at a Financial District skyscraper for more than 15 years are gone.

A male and female falcon started carving out a nest on a 14th-story ledge at 55 Water St. early this year, just as they do every winter, but the couple disappeared in mid-February before laying any eggs, said Frank Magnani, a vice president at New Water Street Corp., the building's owner.

"All of a sudden they stopped coming around," Magnani said. "Probably something happened to one of them."

Workers at the building have spotted a lone falcon returning to the nest occasionally late at night, but they are not sure whether it is the male or the female, Magnani said.

Magnani's best guess of what happened is that the female falcon died, because if the male had died, the female likely would have found a new partner immediately and returned to lay her eggs. Male falcons have a harder time finding a new mate, Magnani said.

For the past couple of years, falcon lovebirds Rocky and Jubilee have made their nest at 55 Water St., most recently rearing four baby falcons there last spring. Before that, the nest hosted a rotating cast of couples, including the original duo, Jack and Diane.

Magnani does not know whether this year's ill-fated couple was Rocky and Jubilee or a different pair.

Workers in the 54-story office building, who looked forward to watching the baby falcons hatch on a live "BirdCam" in the lobby, were disappointed to hear that the falcons had flown the coop.

"That's so sad," said Lori Byers, a New Jersey resident who works for a trust company in the building. "Every year they were here I would go around the building to see them flying — they're huge."

Patrick Grillo, 50, a project manager who works at 55 Water St. and lives in Staten Island, said he liked looking out his window to see the majestic birds circling in the air.

"I'm sorry they're gone, and I hope they come back," he said.

Falcons can swoop at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour to catch their prey in mid-air. They were once an endangered species but have rebounded over the past 20 years.

Magnani said it may not be too late for another falcon couple to take up the 55 Water St. nest, though in previous years Jubilee usually finished laying her eggs by mid-March.

"We've got hope that somebody else will pick it up," Magnani said, "but when and how I don't know."