Shrill screeches of young peregrine falcons could be heard Monday throughout the third floor of the Woodmen Tower as Nebraska Game and Parks and Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery workers banded three falcon chicks.
The work, involving a male chick and two female chicks, continues an effort to conserve the species’ population.
The banding took place Monday morning. It required the chicks, which are about three weeks old, to be brought in from their 28th-floor nest on the Woodmen Tower at 17th and Farnam Streets. Once indoors, two staffers from Game and Parks placed a band on each of the chicks’ legs.
The first, a color-coded, numbered and lettered band, lets bird spotters know where the birds were banded.
Some of the Woodmen’s falcons have been spotted in Kansas and Illinois and as far away as South America.
“They just go all over,” said Betsy Finch, Fontenelle’s rehab manager. “They city hop, basically.”
The second band is a federal one. Finch said it helps to figure out how far the bird has traveled since its release.
“To me, it tells me how successful we were in rehabilitating these birds,” she said.
All the information on the bands is cataloged and can be reported to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Laboratory, Finch said.
Biologists began releasing the falcons from urban buildings after a dip in population in the 1950s, recognizing that the falcons had adapted to urban settings.
Fontenelle released its first batches of falcons from atop the Woodmen Tower and Mutual of Omaha building in 1988. Since then, the company has banded and released more than 85 falcons.
The falcons that were banded Monday should begin flying after about six weeks. Finch said this period may be the most dangerous time of the chicks’ life, saying they sometimes end up on the ground or in streets with no way to get back to their parents.
“It’s up to people to watch and help out in that respect,” she said.
If you see a lone or endangered falcon chick, Finch said to call the Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery hotline at 1-866-888-7261.
The three chicks at Woodmen have not yet been named. If you would like to help name the birds, check out WoodmenLife’s naming contest on its Facebook page.