Resident raptors

Peregrine falcon chicks banded at Medical Campus

Photos and story by Elizabethe Holland Durando

Several years ago, construction workers noticed a peregrine falcon nest on the side of the West Building, one of the oldest buildings on the Medical Campus. School of Medicine employees eager to see the falcons thrive then crafted three potential nesting sites, including one on the side of the West Building.

Falcons have snubbed two of the spots (despite the fact both offer a penthouse view). But a mother falcon — or perhaps more than one — has returned to the West Building year after year to hatch and raise chicks.

Each year, after the chicks are a few weeks old, experts from the World Bird Sanctuary visit campus to apply identifying bands above the birds' talons and take blood samples. They access the nest via a movable panel, slip the chicks into a pet carrier to take them to a quiet office for banding and blood tests, then return them, usually before their mother even realizes they are missing.

This year, four chicks hatched — two females, two males. All four were safely banded, tested and returned to their nest. Whether any of the newbies will take to the other two long-spurned potential nests on campus remains to be seen.

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