PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From her perch on the 37th floor of the Gulf Tower, mama falcon knows something is up.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is here for the banding of her latest brood of peregrines.
“We are here, of course, to place individual marker bands on each of the three young peregrine falcon chicks that are nesting on a ledge outside,” says the Game Commission’s Dan Brauning.
Onto the ledge, dive bombed by two adult falcons, Brauning carefully lifts three fighting offspring from their nest. They are taken to the banding table.
“There’s more power there than she realizes,” he says, holding the legs of one of the chicks. “And she could do some damage. But the young birds are not experienced enough to really do that kind of damage. The adult female, we would not be able to handle as easily.”
Though the young birds are only about 30-days-old, their legs won’t grow much thicker, so the band is only slightly looser than it will need to be.
After the birds are banded, they are passed over to Dr. Pilar Fish, of the National Aviary, for a medical checkup. The birds, of course, have no way of knowing that this series of health tests is being conducted for their own good.
“It’s grown and developed very normally,” Dr. Fish says of a bird she has just finished examining. “Its bones are great. The wing range of motion is normal. We’re going to give it a little preventative parasite, that’s all.”
Thanks to banding, these birds can be found from Virginia to Toronto to the Ohio Valley. In fact, some of them, it seems, could be heard from that far away.
Finally, the chicks are returned to parents who don’t seem very appreciative.