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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

Peregrine falcon banded in rooftop close encounter

Dave Scott of the Ohio Division of Wildlife bands the falcon chick. Dave Scott of the Ohio Division of Wildlife bands the falcon chick.

Though its mother is technically from the south, you can t call the peregrine falcon born last month atop a downtown Toledo building a Dixie chick.

The sole offspring produced this year in the nest atop the Commodore Perry building at Superior Street and Jefferson Avenue is a male, and it is still referred to as a chick. But its mother is from southern Ohio.

The 3-week-old male had its first encounter with humans yesterday morning when it was temporarily taken from its nest for banding by Ohio Division of Wildlife officials. The band will allow them to track the young falcon s movement, and provide insight into the species survival rate.

Hopefully, this will be his last contact with humans, up close and personal, Dave Scott, peregrine falcon project coordinator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said after attaching two identification bands to the chick and taking a blood sample.

Scott Butterworth, a wildlife management supervisor, said the half-hour procedure would not cause any permanent damage to the bird or cause its parents to abandon it.

Still, Mr. Scott had to carry a plywood shield near the nest to prevent the parents from swooping down and attacking the wildlife officials or injuring the chick.

The nest atop the Commodore Perry was Ohio s first peregrine nest, established in 1988. The current inhabitants are a male that arrived several years ago from Canada, and a female that arrived this year from southern Ohio.

It s not uncommon for one of the pair to be replaced by another bird, Mr. Butterworth said.

Ohio has 19 known pairs of peregrine falcons, with the largest concentration of seven pairs nesting in Cleveland, Mr. Scott said. Although their numbers have grown from a handful of birds tagged in the late 1990s when the program began to 60 last year Toledo is still home to only a single pair.

An adult peregrine keeps close watch. 
An adult peregrine keeps close watch.

Because they re so territorial and they re the top of the food chain, they really don t tolerate each other very well, Mr. Scott explained.

Last year, the Commodore Perry nest produced four chicks, two of which survived and have since left the area. Peregrine falcons are about the size of a crow and feed primarily on other birds, dive-bombing at speeds of up to 180 mph.

The falcon that was banded today will reach full size in approximately three to four weeks, after which it will learn to fly. Mr. Butterworth said the death rate for falcons is high at that time, and is also high when they leave the nest and must begin to hunt their own food.

Peregrine falcons were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999, although they are still listed as endangered in Ohio.

Contact Eric Lund at: elund@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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