Conserve Wildlife Blog

Four Peregrine Falcon Chicks Banded in Union County

June 5th, 2020

Left: Adult falcon in flight. Right: Peregrine chick ready to be banded. Photos by Eric Sambol.

Peregrine falcons have nested atop the Union County Court House in downtown Elizabeth for many years. Each year, before the young birds fledge, scientists gather up the chicks and band their legs. 

The banding was a smaller than usual human affair this year to comply with social distancing and other health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was a very active avian event with the adult falcons energetically dive bombing the biologists as they brought the eyases (young falcons) indoors for the banding.

The eyases were treated to medicated chicken to prevent possible trichomonas, a pigeon borne disease before being returned to their protective parents. All four were found to be in good health and growing fast. Blood was also drawn to test for lead and other toxins.

A healthy (and loud) peregrine eyas. Photo by Eric Sambol.

The data collected from banding is essential for management and conservation projects, as well as scientific research. Individual identification of birds lets scientists know about their movement, preferred nesting sites, social structure, life-span, survival rate, reproductive success and population growth. This information allows managers to craft effective plans to ensure that peregrine populations continue to grow and recover. Over the years, banded offspring from the Union County Courthouse pair have been observed around the tri-state region, where they have raised chicks of their own.

Just a few decades ago peregrines were completely wiped out east of the Mississippi, in large part because of the pesticide DDT. Stronger environmental regulations – including the banning of DDT – and dedicated work by New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife Foundation scientists, along with community volunteers, have enabled peregrines to make an inspiring recovery. Last year we documented over 38 pairs in New Jersey alone.

The Union County Falcon Cam is operated through a partnership between Union County, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, and the Department of Environmental Protection. Phillips 66 provides exclusive funding for CWF’s educational programming throughout Union County, utilizing the Falcon Cam to teach STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics).


Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: