PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s a new peregrine falcon chick on top of the Cathedral of Learning. And today, it was snatched from its perch for a medical checkup and banding.
“This is one of the earlier nests that we had in Pennsylvania,” says ornithologist Art McMorris of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
He says pesticides once decimated the population. DDT was banned in 1972, and the birds started coming back.
The falcon known as Dorothy just hatched her 42nd offspring in the Cathedral ledge.
The word peregrine means wandering or migratory. And Dorothy lives up to her billing. Before she moved to the Pitt Cathedral, she grew up in Milwaukee.
McMorris approaches the nesting box. Game Commission colleague Dan Brauning brings a broom for defensive purposes.
The mother bird attacks as he reaches into the nest, removing the chick in a sack. Once inside, the bird is removed.
“Okay, we can see the dark tips of his primaries,” says the ornithologist. “Those are the main wing flight feathers. They’re coming in. They’ll start to appear in about 20 days.”
Then, he wraps a band around each leg.
“Anybody who finds it can report that band number, and we can identify the band,” he adds. “This is all to help the recovery of the species. Once a species has recovered, we won’t need to do this anymore.”
With a clean bill of health, the 22-day-old baby is returned to the nest.
“It’s all in a day’s work,” McMorris says.
EXCLUSIVE: Watch up-close video of the falcon chick: