May 19 2009

Two peregrine chicks banded at Gulf Tower

Published by at 10:45 pm under Nesting & Courtship,Peregrines

Peregrine falcon chick at Gulf Tower on banding day, 2009 (photo by Kate St. John)If you were watching the Gulf Tower webcam around 9:00am today (Tuesday), you saw Beth Fife of the PA Game Commission fend off the mother peregrine falcon and collect her two chicks in a cardboard box. 

Tasha is such a fearless mom that she rushed at Beth and had to be captured so she wouldn't hurt herself.

Meanwhile the father, Louie, buzzed past the banders closer than he has ever come before.  He kakked and whooshed and made a special loud shout every time he nearly hit them.  When his entire family disappeared indoors he perched above the nest area and continued to kak, then made a single ee-chup call.  Ee-chup is a sound usually made between mates.  I wondered if he was calling to Tasha.

In the banding room Tasha and her babies were given thorough health checks.  All were found to be in good health and very well fed.  The veterinarian gave Tasha and Louie high marks for being such good parents.

Female peregrines are a third larger than males so the chicks were weighed to determine their sex and the proper bands to apply.  The two Gulf Tower chicks were deemed to be females.  The older chick was just above the male/female weight line and the younger was 80 grams heavier even though she is four days younger.  You can see how big she is from my photo. 

The two remaining unhatched eggs were brought in from the nest box and will be candled to see if a live embryo ever developed in them.  Beth also collected the small amount of garbage at the nest.  Tasha is a better housekeeper than Dorothy so there wasn't much to examine but we did determine the babies had been fed two kinds of woodpeckers and a lot of pigeons.  One prey feather was a mystery - probably a duck.

After the banding Tasha and her chicks were returned to the nest.  Louie and Tasha calmed down and the babies finally slept.  I'm sure the entire peregrine family is glad that banding is over for another year.

For media reports on the banding, see the Tribune-Review or KDKA

You can watch the peregrines at their nest on the National Aviary's webcam.

(photo from Kate St. John's cell phone)

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Two peregrine chicks banded at Gulf Tower”

  1. Donnaon 20 May 2009 at 8:01 am

    There are also 3 photos of the banding in the Trib’s daily photo gallery:

  2. Kathyon 20 May 2009 at 8:39 am

    I *did* and it sure was great to see! Congratulations!

    The little “buggers” had me nervous with their “ledge sitting” yesterday afternoon. So cute!

    The Rochester site reports that “your Beauty”, they suspect, is doing some serious brooding on the ledge of the Midtown Tower Bldg. Because she and Archer chose a site without a camera, it is all a guessing game, but those Rochester Watchers are pretty experienced, with or without a live streaming camera.

  3. Kittyon 20 May 2009 at 10:35 am

    Now that they are walking around the nest, I was a little concern about them falling out the side of nest too. Has that ever happened?

  4. Kate St. Johnon 20 May 2009 at 10:40 am

    It is very unlikely they will fall out of the nest. The “know-how” on this is bred in the bone with peregrines.

  5. Hazelon 20 May 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, they’re a lot bigger than they look in the nest box.

  6. Kate St. Johnon 20 May 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Pop City has a picture of Tasha & Louie peering inside after the banding. See the May 20 issue at

  7. Jon 20 May 2009 at 3:59 pm

    LOL, nice. Looks like they’re saying “C’Mon back out here, we DARE you!!!”

  8. Joannon 20 May 2009 at 4:45 pm

    How nice to see the birds close up. The one chick has really lost most of her fluff but she was really scaring me today. She walked out onto the ledge & I know you have said they wouldn’t fall off the building it is still scary to see. Can’t wait to find out what Dorothy had now. Hopefully I will be able to see them being taken out of the nest for their banding day.

  9. Joannon 20 May 2009 at 5:42 pm

    it looked like the one chick took a short flight in the nest & then decided she was going to try out her wings while standing near the edge of the nest-She is going to make me a nervous wreck-I don’t care what you say Kate she is going to fall out of that nest if she isn’t careful. She does seem to be impatient to start flying. The other one seems content to lay around & watch her sister try to kill herself.

  10. Tracion 20 May 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I had to laugh outloud when I read Joann’s post – because it exactly echoes my own sentiments!! ROLOL!! I can no longer watch them longer than for a minute or two and then my palms start sweating and I cringe and wince everytime one of them gets near the edge.

    A pure lesson in trusting in instinct. I wish I could trust my own as much as those birds trust themselves!!

  11. gloriaon 20 May 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Since I am a novice “watcher”, I, like Joann, find the kids at the Gulf Tower frustrating… but, I trust Kate’s sage advice… as she has been a “watcher” for much longer, and knows the birds habits … so, my advice to Joann… watch the kids at the COL and you won’t be so spooked about the Gulf Tower’s kids ledge walking… can’t wait to see the newbies in flight… will be amazing…. what a journey in such a short time, I feel priveleged to have been able to witness it all!!!! Thanks Kate for your website… I am happy to have stumbled onto it.

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