May 27 2016
It’s taken me a while to publish this because I couldn’t take any photos at the Cathedral of Learning peregrine banding this morning. Thanks to Peter Bell, Kim Getz and John English for lending theirs.
At today’s banding we learned, first and foremost, that C1 is a healthy female and Hope and Terzo are devoted parents.
Even before the PA Game Commission‘s Dan Brauning retrieved the chick, Hope guarded her baby and didn’t give up until C1 was indoors. Then she stayed at the nest kakking while Terzo provided backup support.
Kim’s (silent) video below shows the perspective from the ground about halfway through: Terzo flying back and forth, Hope leaving the nest to attack the humans when C1 was returned, then perched on the bulwark after they’re gone.
Here’s why I didn’t take any pictures: Dan Brauning asked me to hold C1 while he applied the bands. (You can see I was concentrating very hard!)
Dan weighed C1 (900 grams), checked for trichomoniasis (none!) and feather pests (almost none). He dusted under her wings with anti-parasite powder and applied her bands. Here she is with her new jewelry.
Then Dan braved Hope’s wrath to return C1 to the nest.
What a privilege to hold the chick and see her parents protecting her!
It’s a shame this will be the only peregrine banding in western Pennsylvania this year. Here’s why:
Why weren’t more peregrines banded in Penna. this year?
Peregrines are endangered in Pennsylvania so the PA Game Commission (PGC) normally visits every known nest site and attempts to band the chicks — that’s 9 locations in western Pennsylvania. But this year severe budget cuts and layoffs forced PGC to band at only one site in the western half of the state — the Cathedral of Learning.
Why does PGC have a budget crisis? They don’t rely on state tax dollars. They’re self-supporting through hunting license fees, timber sales, mineral extraction, and a federal excise tax on ammunition. But state law forbids them to raise the license fees that comprise 40% of their revenue. There hasn’t been an increase since the 1990’s.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you can help.
The Pennsylvania State House and Senate must pass a law — SB 1166 — to allow the Game Commission to raise the license fees. Contact your State Senator and State Representative (find them here) and urge them to support “SB 1166.”
Click here for a letter about the budget crisis and information on what you can do.
(photos by Kate St. John)