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Peregrine Falcon chicks banded at Nebraska Capitol

Photo courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Workers from Raptor Recovery Nebraska hold down a young peregrine falcon as blood is drawn. Officials from Raptor Recovery Nebraska and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission banded and assessed the health of the four peregrine chicks that hatched this spring from a nest box high atop the state Capitol building in Lincoln. Photo courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


-- Two male and two female peregrine falcon chicks from the nest box near the top of the Nebraska State Capitol building were banded and given a checkup June 2.  

“The banding went very well and the chicks appear to be in very good shape,” said Joel Jorgensen, the Commission's nongame bird program manager. “They have everything they need to be successful.”

Tuesday's banding also marked the start of the Name the Chicks contest. Participants may either submit their suggestions for the four chicks beginning June 3 by visiting OutdoorNebraska.org or in person at the peregrine display near the first-floor information desk at the Capitol. Votes will be accepted through June 23, with the winner announced June 25. Each person may vote once.

Peregrine falcons almost disappeared from the lower 48 states following World War II because of eggshell thinning caused by the pesticide DDT. The falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1970. Recovery efforts, including the release of falcons at tall buildings in urban areas, were successful. By the late 1990s, peregrine falcon numbers recovered and the species was removed from the list of endangered species in 1999.

Falcon fans may continue to watch the chicks grow over the next few weeks, via streaming video, on the Commission's popular FalconCam at ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/webcam/peregrine/default.asp.

The banding was performed by Jorgensen and the Commission's Melissa Santiago, as well as Betsy Finch and Janet Stander of Raptor Recovery Nebraska.

Peregrine female A/*Y laid four eggs about the second week of April and, with the help of her mate, 19/K, hatched the eggs between May 12 and May 14. The same pair has been present at the Capitol since 2005.

The 20-day-old chicks hatched in the nest box located on the 18th floor. Biologists placed unique bands on both legs, took blood samples, checked for diseases and parasites before returning the youngsters to the nest box.

This is the fourth year that the peregrine pair successfully hatched eggs. In 2005, the pair successfully raised a chick that, through the “name the chick” contest, was named Pioneer. In 2006, three chicks fledged and were given the names Willa, Bess and Sterling after famous Nebraskans Willa Cather, Bess Streeter Aldrich and J. Sterling Morton. In 2007, four chicks fledged that were named Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus after the four wind gods from Greek mythology that are ascribed to the cardinal directions North, South, East, and West. Last year's nesting attempt failed.

Peregrine falcons were first observed at the State Capitol when a lone male was seen in August 1990.

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