Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peregrines 2009

The banding season for Peregrine Falcons in the Twin Cities is underway! For most of you reading this blog, you know this initiative, and this species, is near and dear to my heart. The cooperation and innovations that came about due to bringing this species from the brink of extinction to being incredibly successful is just awe inspiring. Last week, the Peregrine chicks from the Colonnade building in St Louis Park, MN were banded. There were four, which was typical for that site.

You can see from the picture of the chick on the table that wing feathers are starting to come in - they are the gray shafts on the wing. The chicks were about three weeks old, which was a perfect time to band. Their legs were the size to judge easily if they were male or female. You can see the two different bands that are put on the chicks' legs - the purple band is a US Fish and Wildlife Service (federal) band that has more numbers that would probably be easy to read with a spotting scope. The second band, called a project or color band, has only a few numbers or letters in a sequence. They are either black over green or black over red. There is a great website that the public can check bands or individual birds, sites and other great information, at Midwest Peregrine. By the way, the first nesting attempt for this site was 1991, and as of last year, there were 58 young produced from this site.

These photos are of the female flying. The photo at left is of the window washer box that is used to lower the banders near the nest box, to gather the chicks. The parent is obviously very protective of the nest box and the chicks. The banders do not keep the chicks for long, and the information that we have been able to gather to provide opportunities for this species to recover is well worth the small time of discomfort.
The last photos are from the banding at the Wells Fargo building in Bloomington, MN. There were five chicks at this site. They were a few days younger than the chicks at the Colonnade. The bulges that you see at their chests are their crops - full from a recent meal. The down feathers do not cover the skin, so the full crops are easy to see. The first year for attempted nesting at this location was 1997, and as of last year there were 35 young produced.

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