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.
You can watch the peregrines at their nest on the National Aviary’s webcam.
(photo from Kate St. John’s cell phone)