Matthew Babula, 5, of Toledo apprehensively approached the newborn peregrine falcon as it squawked in protest while wildlife experts attached a tiny ankle bracelet that can help researchers identify the once-endangered species.
Young Matthew’s job was to press together a tool that locks the ankle bracelet together. The bird squawked, Michael looked away as he pressed the tool together and responded with an excited “bridy,” not quite able to pronounce the word correctly yet.
Matthew was among more than 60 students, University of Toledo employees, and area residents who gathered around the student union Tuesday to welcome two newly hatched baby peregrine falcons, birds that were nowhere to be found in the Midwest states as recently as the 1980s.
Biologists from Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife climbed the steep bell tower at University Hall, where the birds’ nests are located, and fetched the two newborns. The birds were brought outside where Jennifer Norris, a wildlife research biologist and her staff could fit the newborns with tiny ankle bracelets and educate the public about the birds.
“In 1988 we found the first nesting pair in Ohio,” said Ms. Norris, noting the species was reintroduced to the state. There are now 28 nesting pairs in the state and wildlife officials hope that number continues to grow.
The birds’ numbers dwindled to zero in some areas of the country because of the use of pesticides that made their eggs very brittle, officials said.
Daniel Johnson was one of several employees who stepped outside to snap pictures and catch a glimpse of the fluffy white baby birds, one that is 21 days old and the other 16 days old.
“I was just interested in what was happening out here,” Mr. Johnson said. “The birds have been calling the bell tower home for about seven years now. We even use the tower and birds as a recruiting tool now because it looks like Hogwarts,” making a reference to the Harry Potter series.
Twenty-four peregrine falcons have been born at the tower since 2007, school and DNR officials said.
Young Matthew Babula, who was busy taking pictures of the newborn birds and crowd, said he enjoyed the event, but still prefers “dinosaurs and sea turtles.”
“It was good,” said young Matthew who was escorted to the event by his mother Shawna Babula and grandmother Judy Babula of Toledo. “I took pictures of ‘bridy,’ ” he said.
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.