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Peregrine Banding

Photo Warning: The third and fourth photos are dried, pieces of birds. Those with weak stomachs may wish to stop after the second photo (they’re not as bad as the unhatched merganser though).

Today Bud Tordoff and Mark Martell banded peregrine falcons along with Lori Arndt and Jane Goggin from The Raptor Center. They were banding the chicks on the Colonnade building, not too far from the bird store, so I was able to sneak out of work for a little bit to get some photos:


Mark Martell masterfully holds a 21 day old male peregrine falcon chick.


“Mock me now, human, but one day I shall dominate and terrorize pigeons in your urban neighborhood!”

The nest had two male chicks in it. What was interesting was that the male of the pair that produced the chicks is the grandfather of the female that laid the eggs. Hmmm, could that sentence be any more confusing? Bud assured that though this is a taboo in human society, this is the norm for this type of species where there are few breeding pairs spread out in an area. I didn’t see any cleft palates or third eyes so it must not be too bad.

My favorite part of when they band the chicks is what they take out of the nest. The banders grab the chicks and then quickly clean up all the bones and feathers around the nest box. It’s a treasure trove of interesting finds. Bud is an ornithologist and has been president of a few ornithologists societies so his bird fu is so strong he can tell you species right away by looking at a feather or two. Here are some highlights:


Here is the head of a pied-billed grebe.


Any guesses? On the left is the bill of a black-billed cuckoo. On the right is the bill from a yellow-billed cuckoo. I haven’t seen either species yet this year, I wonder if these are countable?

One year when Amber and I went out with Bud and Mark we found nighthawk parts in the peregrine boxes. Nighthawks have been on a steady decline in the last few decades and part of me wondered if peregrines being reintroduced into metro areas was a contributing factor? There have been several theories about nighthawk decline, usually people accuse crows but I think it’s several factors with migratory habitat destruction number one on the list, not peregrines or crows.

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