Check-up day for falcon chicks atop Phila.City Hall
CENTER CITY - May 23, 2012 (WPVI) -- Set to a chorus of peregrine falcon squawks, the excursion began to their nest ledge on the 15th level of City Hall Tower. It was led by Art McMorris of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
"Ok, what I'm doing is chasing them back into the nest," he said.
While McMorris climbs, nearby the watch stands guard. The broom serves as a shield from the pair of adult falcons fiercely protecting their young.
"He's just going to hold the broom, he's not going to swing for a home run," said McMorris.
The mission: safely collecting the four chicks. Each will get a brief medical exam and two bands secured to their legs.
Peregrine falcons are endangered in Pennsylvania. Last year, the count improved to 32 adult pairs in the whole state. Banding identifies them, and tracks their movements and lifespan.
They don't always go quietly.
"Okay, you can let go of my finger now any time you want," McMorris said to one chick.
"All of this is to give us an idea of population growth and recovery," he added.
The nestlings are gently placed in a mesh bag and carried inside where they await inspection, some more patiently then others.
The birds were weighed, and all given a clean bill of health. They seemed to show proficiency in making alarm calls. McMorris assured us these are not cries of pain.
"This bird is screaming bloody murder, we are not hurting this bird," he explained.
Based on their plumage, McMorris said these birds are about 35 days old. Based on their weight, all four are males.
"I love coming to see these little guys," said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, who helped with the inspection. "Great to work with something that's such a special species."
After a quick visit inside, it was soon time for farewell and back to the nest, a perch with a view.
philadelphia, animals, center city, city hall, local/state, katherine scott
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