Yesterday morning, 14 May 2019, two male peregrine chicks were banded at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Here’s the story in pictures by Peter Bell with additions from John English, Kim Getz and the National Aviary falconcam.
This spring is the fourth year Hope and Terzo have nested at Pitt and the fourth year their chicks have been banded, so they knew something was about to happen when they heard the event assembling indoors.
Hope was especially vigilant and a very protective mother. She stood on the nest between her chicks and Lead Bander Dan Brauning of the PA Game Commission and would not leave! Dan had to gently brush her away before he could place the chicks in a box for safe transport.
Fortunately PGC Biologist Sam Ruano had Dan’s back while Hope flew back and forth, strafing the area just above the soft broom that Sam held up as her target (rather than their heads).
Indoors, the chicks were given health checks (both healthy), weighed to determine their sex (both male), and given two leg bands: a black/green color band that can be read from a distance, and a silver USFW band.
Dan permitted me to stick a bit of colored tape on the USFW silver bands so that observers can tell the birds apart on the falconcam and with binoculars: Red for chick#1 (C1), Yellow for chick#2 (C2). The tape will fall off within a year but we’ll find it useful in the meantime.
The chicks were returned to the nest in less than half an hour and Hope immediately came to protect them. Dan wrapped up indoors with a Q&A and showed us the unhatched egg.
The peregrines also received a lot of media attention:
- KDKA video: Falcon Chicks Get Banded At Cathedral Of Learning
- Post-Gazette: Annual checkup: Peregrine falcon chicks at the Cathedral of Learning get exam
- Trib-Live: Peregrine falcon chicks banded at Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning
- WPXI: Falcon chicks nesting on the Cathedral of Learning to get health exam
Watch them on the National Aviary falconcam at Univ. of Pittsburgh.
(photos by Peter Bell, John English, Kim Getz and the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)