Peregrine drama

The young Peregrine Falcons from the Dunn Memorial Bridge nestbox were banded last week. I arrived late and saw part of the exciting story!

On my way home from Early Birders at 5 Rivers, I noticed one lane was closed on the bridge and remembered Bill had told me the banding would be going on during lunchtime, so I swung down to Riverfront Park. Several birders were already there, scopes and cameras deployed. Long before I reached the water’s edge, I could hear one of the adults frantically ki-ki-ki-ing. The chicks had been removed a few minutes before using a Snooper truck (an upside-down cherrypicker) at which point the male had flown off and the female went nuts. Through my binocs I could see her hopping in and out of the nest box, pacing along the top of the bridge pillar. Then she’d fly off, hovering at the level of the span, looping under the bridge and back up, still calling. It seemed she knew exactly where her chicks were. (It occurs to me now they must have been shrilling back to her.) I know it’s not proper to attribute human emotions to animals, but I couldn’t help empathizing with her frantic anxiety. How terrifying to have your children snatched away, to hear them calling for their mother!

All this time, the people from EnCon were weighing, sexing, and banding the young ones, assessing their condition. This nest has five chicks, 3 males and 2 females. A few miles upriver on the Collar City Bridge, 3 females and one male were banded earlier in the day.

At last, the Snooper slowly descended under the span again. She seemed very nervous at the sight of the machine and its passengers but would not leave her post, staring straight up as it came nearer. Finally when it was within a few feet of the nest, she flew up into the girders and watched as a brave man in protective gear climbed out of the lift to tuck the nestlings safely into the rear of the box. As soon as they were a few feet away, she shot down, blocking the front of her home with her outspread wings, and screamed, “…And STAY OUT!”, satisfied that she had done her job in driving off the chicknappers.

Through all this, the male was nowhere in sight. I hope he at least brought her a good fat pigeon for all her stress. I wonder if she remembers from year to year that her chicks are taken, and returned?

I hoped someone would post pictures, but no luck so far. The nestcam is off this year, due to roadwork starting soon.

All should be quiet now for a few weeks, until the fledged chicks take that first dangerous flight. Good luck, little ones!

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