Peregrine Falcon Chicks Fitted with Identification Bands on June 3

Posted on June 16, 2015

Birds confirmed healthy, expected to take their first flights in coming week

On Wednesday, June 3, state and federally-permitted bird bander Jerome “Jay” Barry and NH Audubon senior biologist and raptor specialist Chris Martin outfitted four peregrine falcon chicks with leg identification bands. The healthy, three-week-old falcons are located at a nest site atop the Brady-Sullivan tower in Manchester, which is viewable via live webcam accessible at bit.ly/nhafalcon. There, viewers can watch as the birds ready themselves for their first flights.

Read about the banding experience via UnionLeader.com or watch a video of the process via WMUR-TV.

Banding the birds gives biologists the ability to follow both parents and chicks throughout their lives, providing important insight and data about the falcons’ life cycles and breeding patterns. Through the Federal Bird Banding Lab, which is a network of publicly-reported banded bird sightings, wildlife biologists communicate and interpret sightings and photographs submitted by professional birders and the public alike.

As the young falcons develop and grow stronger, they’ll hop in and out of the camera’s view. The team monitoring the camera has switched to a new view facing south over the city (the northern half of downtown Manchester will be visible) to focus on the nest’s ledge and perch pole. For a week or so, the young birds will wait for food to be delivered by the male and female parents as they gain strength and confidence in their ability to fly “and then comes the drama of fledging,” Martin said. “As soon as the chicks fly or fall from the nest edge and are out of view of the camera, we won’t know how they fared. This is the riskiest time for the birds and everyone will be wondering if they survived.”

NH Audubon volunteers on site also monitor the fledglings when they are out of the camera’s view, while their parents keep track of the fledglings through vocalizations and continue to bring them food wherever they end up – baby birds are excellent at begging and yelling for food, Martin says. They may end up in the parking lot below the nest, across the street, or on a roof, and they sometimes fly back to the nest atop the tower in a day or two. The chicks will continue to have food delivered by their parents for up to a month after they initially leave the nest and grow strong enough to explore the nearby skies alone. They’ll then wander for most of the year until next spring when they may find a new place to breed.

The nest site in Manchester is one of more than 20 peregrine nest sites in the state monitored by NH Audubon and NH Fish and Game. All 43 young falcons that hatched from the Manchester nest site since 2001 have been banded, and 21 of these have been relocated throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. A collaborative effort lasting over three decades, involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, NH Fish and Game, NH State Parks, and NH Audubon, has led to the recovery of peregrines in New Hampshire.

Since the early 1990s, conservation biologists from NH Audubon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and rock climbing volunteers have banded more than 300 peregrine chicks, nearly 80% of all those hatched since 1981. Nearly 22% of New Hampshire’s banded peregrines have been re-sighted, resulting in hard-to-obtain data on individual longevity and dispersal. Recent analysis of dozens of non-viable eggs recovered during banded attempts have contributed significantly to our knowledge about levels of PDBEs and other toxins in the region’s peregrine population.

The Peregrine Falcon was removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List in 1999, and downlisted from endangered to threatened on the New Hampshire list in September 2008. To support and learn more about the project, check out the Peregrine Falcon Monitoring and Management Project page.

About New Hampshire Audubon
Founded in 1914, New Hampshire Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. New Hampshire Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.