The two peregrine falcon chicks at OPPD’s North Omaha Station (NOS) took a another step toward adulthood over Memorial Day weekend.
The chicks were weighed and banded by experts, who concluded based on the chicks’ weight that both are female. You can watch the process in the video below.
The chicks are the latest surviving offspring hatched to Lewis and Clark, the resident adult peregrine falcons who have lived at the NOS box these past several years. Two other chicks hatched along with them in May but didn’t survive.
Not surprisingly, Lewis and Clark were extra protective this year when handlers visited the nest box, located more than 200 feet up a stack at NOS. The parents made their displeasure known, hovering close by and swooping at the handlers. The birds knocked one handler’s GoPro camera off his helmet twice while he was retrieving the chicks.
The chicks were 20 days old on banding day. At that age, the chicks’ legs are large enough to be fitted with permanent bands, but the chicks have not gained their adult, flight feathers, so they can’t try to fly away from the banders.
Each chick got a band with a unique nine-digit code that identifies the bird. Those bands are registered with the United States Geological Survey, and they help provide valuable information to researchers about survival rates, location and population growth rates.
The chicks also each received an auxiliary band, which is black over blue. The black portion has a letter and the blue portion has a two digit number. That identifying information is easier to see from a distance than the nine-digit band.
Jerry Toll, a licensed master raptor bander, and Kellie Hayden, a licensed raptor bander, completed the banding, with assistance from Matthew James, a peaking station technician at NOS.
With their new bands, the falcon chicks now need names to assign to their bands and enter in the falcon registry.
OPPD wants the public’s help in naming the birds. Visit the utility’s Peregrine Falcon Naming Contest page to cast your vote. The contest runs through June 9. OPPD will announce the winning names June 13 on the utility’s Facebook page and on The Wire.
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