May 27 2008

Peregrine banding at University of Pittsburgh

Published by at 10:26 pm under Peregrines

Doug Dunkerley, PA Game Commission, holds a Pitt peregrine chick (photo by Kate St.John)On Tuesday morning the Pitt peregrine falcon chicks were banded – two males and one female. All of them received a clean bill of health and shiny new bracelets on their legs.

The cutie at left is one of the male chicks, held by Doug Dunkerley, PA Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO).

As usual the mother, Dorothy, was not happy that humans came to take her babies. She went on guard immediately and had to be captured for her safety.

Erin Estell of the National Aviary held Dorothy just as she held Tasha last week at the Gulf Tower banding. This way of holding an adult peregrine keeps it calm. Dorothy got to see the entire banding – not that she was impressed by it.

Meanwhile outside, E2 (the father peregrine) was very angry. Not only did humans take his babies but they took his mate. He zoomed and “kakked” for quite the while. I was hoping he’d perch nearby so I could read his bands and finally learn who he is, but no such luck. He wouldn’t stop for a second.

After the banding was over, the chicks were returned to the nest. Then Dorothy was released but she had one more trick up her sleeve. As WCO Beth Fife let her go, Dorothy wheeled in the air and came back at Beth in attack mode! Whoa! No one got hurt but it reminded all of us how fiercely a peregrine mother defends her young.

For media coverage of this event see KDKAWTAE and watch for a segment on WYEP’s Allegheny Front.

(Photo at top is from my cellphone.)

Three peregrine chicks, University of Pittsburgh, May 27, 2008 (photo by Doug Dunkerley)Bonus! Here are the three chicks huddled in the corner of the nest box just before they were gathered up for the banding.  Photo was taken by WCO Doug Dunkerley, pictured above.
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7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Peregrine banding at University of Pittsburgh”

  1. Amy Fon 28 May 2008 at 9:01 am

    It’s a shame that E2 wouldn’t sit still long enough for you to get a good look at his bands. Will there be other chances to ID him? (Can any of the parent falcons’ usual perches be seen or photographed from inside the building?)

    I snagged a few web-cam images of the process again, if you don’t mind me posting the links.

  2. Lauren Conkleon 28 May 2008 at 9:01 am

    That’s too bad that E2 didn’t allow anyone to see his leg bands. I know the bands are primarily for science and conservation, but it would also be nice to know if he has a name so we don’t have to call him E2 anymore!

    I wonder what the parent birds are really thinking when people temporarily remove the chicks from their nest. Perhaps E2 never experienced that before, but it happens to Dorothy every year. She knows that her chicks are always returned to her unharmed and she continues to nest in the same spot every year in a city filled with people. So even though she becomes angry, I wonder if part of her knows that we don’t mean any harm and we actually want to help her babies.

  3. Kate StJon 28 May 2008 at 9:16 am

    I hope I’ll get another chance to see E2’s bands. It’s frustrating to have to use a temporary name for him.

    Amy, Looking forward to your photo links.

  4. Amy Fon 28 May 2008 at 9:45 am

    Protective Dorothy mantling at the WCO
    Dorothy netted
    Captured chick (last of the three, I think)
    Box o’ babies! I laughed because the box they used said “Clicks” on the side – only wrong by one letter.
    “How undignified.” One of the newly banded chicks got tipped out of the box on its back.
    …Hey, who cleaned the nest?

    I’m glad I wasn’t stuck in a meeting when the chicks got returned, this time.

  5. CHWon 28 May 2008 at 1:48 pm

    This Wednesday afternoon I have noticed that Dorothy is spending a lot of time with the chicks on the gravel. I hope that she is not ill or injured?

  6. Kate StJon 28 May 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Dorothy is just fine. Typically in peregrine families, the mother bird guards the nest and the father guards the entire area (the territory). It is normal for her to spend time guarding the chicks before they can fly. Also, on sunny days like today she provides shade for them.
    By the time you read this she will probably be perched elsewhere.

  7. Amy Fon 29 May 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Is it just me, or does the chick on the bottom look especially disgruntled? :-)

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