Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Midwest Peregrine Society

Last Wednesday evening we had a Volunteer Enrichment Program at The Raptor Center. Even though it meant a long day, work 5am to 1pm then volunteer from 1pm to 5pm then catch a bite to eat and get back by 7pm for the program, I decided that I really wanted to attend. The speaker for the evening was Jackie Fallon, who is the Minnesota coordinator for the Midwest Peregrine Society, and the subject was What's New with Peregrine Falcons. The Midwest Peregrine Society was founded in 1982 by Bud Tordoff, from the Bell Museum and University of Minnesota and Pat Redick, co-founder of the Raptor Center. Since the initial releases in Weaver Dunes, MN in 1982 the Midwest Peregrine Society has released 1265 birds in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky as well as Manitoba and Ontario, Canada. Besides the very successful release program the Midwest Peregrine Society also monitors the falcons in the region and keeps a data base with over 4500 records. This is possible because each year volunteers go out to known nesting sites and identify which falcons are nesting in the location by an ID band that is placed on each peregrines leg. In the Midwest these bands are currently black over green and have a unique number combination which is recorded in the database.

This band was on a bird below which I photographed on the University of Minnesota St Paul campus last November. With the band I was able to identify the bird as Marcia who was hatched in 2002 in Monticello. Marcia nested in 2006 and 2007 at the Space Tower on the Minnesota State Fair grounds but was unsuccessful in hatching any eggs so far.
Most of the falcons in the region are banded, about 80%, because each year volunteers from the Midwest Peregrine Society take the young chicks from the nest, take blood samples, band them and then return them to the nest. This can be difficult when you have an angry adult around.
Last year I also spent some time observing a peregrine that was living under the Mendota Bridge in Bloomington, MN. Unfortunately I did not get a photo of it's band so I could not ID it. The Mendota Bridge is one of many nesting sites in the Twin Cities area. I have already talked a bit with Jackie about volunteering to help this year, as long as I don't have to climb up or down any cliffs, tall buildings or bridges. I still need to send her my information so that she can determine which site would be best for me to observe. The Mendota Bridge may be one possibility, although so far it looks like only a single female has been spotted there so far this year.
Some other possible locations that I may be able to observe peregrines will be the bridge in Hastings, MN or the railroad bridge in Prescott, WI. This weekend while I was in Prescott searching for the harlequin duck I spotted one of the Prescott falcons up on the tresses of the railroad bridge.
According to the information from Jackie, the birds currently at Prescott are Butler and an unbanded female. The birds in Hastings are Charlie and an unknown female, no one has been able to read the band yet.

I am really looking forward to helping out and later this summer I plan to attend some of the public banding sessions so that I can get some picks of fuzzy little peregrine chicks.

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