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Peregrine Nest Babies

From the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Photo Courtesy UFWS Photographer, Craig Koppie.
Photo Courtesy UFWS Photographer,
Craig Koppie.

Four new falcons will soon be eligible for drafting, riding the air currents that swirl around their high-rise home in downtown Atlanta.

Georgia's Department of Natural Resources officials recently examined and banded the four young peregrine falcons in a nest outside the offices of McKenna, Long & Aldridge, 51 floors up in the SunTrust Plaza building.

The same two falcons have been nesting on the balcony for five years, according to Jeff Haidet, the law firm chairman.

"This is the first year the pair has produced four babies, and it's always a special treat to observe their transition from hatching to flying," Haidet said.

Two or three falcons hatched each of the previous years. Before this pair of parents, peregrines fledged foursomes outside the firm in 1999, 2000 and 2005. The 2011 nestlings will be flying within two weeks.

Peregrines are possibly the world's fastest animal, diving at more than 200 mph to nab pigeons, ducks and other birds in mid-air. The nest at SunTrust Plaza is one of only two confirmed in Georgia. The other is in midtown Atlanta.

Peregrines are large, crow-sized falcons, and the world's most widespread bird of prey.

Photo Courtesy, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Holding one of the four young peregrines for banding is Dan Forster, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division director.
Photo Courtesy, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Jim Ozier, a program manager with Georgia Department of Natural Resources Nongame Conservation Section, occasionally hears reports that suggest there are other peregrine nests in metro Atlanta. He encourages residents who see falcons in pairs possibly tending a nest in the spring to notify his office, by calling (478)994-1438.

Peregrines were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species because of a successful population recovery effort, but Georgia still lists the birds as rare.

Historically, the only known nest in the state was at Cloudland Canyon in the early 1940s. Peregrines were apparently absent for several years during and after the era when DDT was used as a pesticide. 

This year's clutch hatched in mid-April. The nestlings leave the nest at about 5 weeks old. Life can be hard for them in metro Atlanta. Hazards vary from traffic to large windows. A peregrine hatched at the firm last year was found days later suffering from trichomoniasis, a parasitic disease of young birds. The falcon was rehabilitated and released.

Learn more about Georgia's rare plants and animals in a new online line-up of species accounts at www.georgiawildlife.com/node/2223?cat=6. 

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