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Another After Hours Rescue

First off, there is the need to acknowledge it is all but certain only one egg out of the original four is going to hatch this year.  This outcome is a little bit of a surprise, but it does mean the parents can direct all their attention on the single eyas.  Let’s hope for good things.  The youngster is still only a few days old so it certainly needs a lot of care and attention from its parents.  If one of the parents got in a jam, or worse, and was unable to devote its time and energy to the young chick, there could be unfortunate consequences.  That was my concern when I received a call from the State Patrol at the Capitol around 6 p.m. that a Peregrine Falcon was trapped on the 14th floor observation deck.

I was headed back to Lincoln after being out of the office all day when I received the call.  Thus, it took me about 45 minutes to get to the Capitol.  Since the Peregrine Falcon was first observed late in the day, I had no idea how long the bird had been trapped.  Also, since I was away from my computer all day, I was unaware whether the absence of one of the adults was noted by Peregrine webcam watchers.   I also did not know whether it was the male or female Peregrine Falcon that was trapped.  Once I arrived and the State Patrolman escorted me to the 14th floor, the situation became clear.

Trapped Peregrine Falcon A/Y
A Peregrine Falcon trapped on the 14th floor observation deck. This time it was the adult female Ally or A/Y.

With a towel and a pair of gloves, I quickly apprehended the prisoner.  It was the female, Ally (A/Y), and this was a concern to me since female Peregrine Falcons spend most of their time tending to the young chicks while the male Peregrine Falcon of a pair hunts and brings food.  Ally was spry and after making sure she hadn’t suffered any injuries, we quickly headed to the 18th floor for a release back to freedom.

Peregrine release
The Peregrine Falcon and I on the 18th floor balcony a few moments before the release.
Peregrine release 2
Same as the photo above, but a second or two before she took flight and headed back to the nestbox.

Peregrine Falcons will occasionally get trapped on the Capitol.  You may remember last September the male, 19/K, also got himself trapped on the 14th floor observation deck and required an after hours rescue.  Why does this happen?  Well, how a bird initially gets into a space he or she can’t get out of is not clear.  Why a Peregrine Falcon can’t get out is readily apparent.  A simple way to think about this is that Peregrine Falcons are built like a fighter jet, not a helicopter.  Thus, if they happen to fall into some sort of space that is essentially a “crevice,” they are unable to escape by flying vertically. They are unable to fly straight up from a resting position and instead need space to fly horizontally.

Unlike last fall’s rescue, this event occurred at a critical time.  Fortunately, all signs suggest that there will be no long term negative consequences to Ally or the eyas.  It appears that Ally was only trapped for a short period.  Also, weather conditions were favorable, temperatures were around 70, and winds were relatively calm.   If this event happened during a period of inclement weather and the female was unable to protect and warm the eyas, it could have been bad.  Fortunately, bad luck did not find the birds this time around, let’s hope that continues.

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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