The recent peregrine falcon chick banding at the Liberty Bank Tower in Dayton was a bittersweet day. I always look forward to the banding event as a success story for Ohio wildlife restoration. This year was both a celebration and just slightly sad. This banding was the last banding the Ohio Division of Wildlife will be doing. The peregrine falcon is being removed from the Ohio threatened species list later this summer. This is certainly a milestone worth celebrating but with a tinge of sadness as no more falcon chicks will squawk in protest of being banded.
Diana Malas, Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist, explains, “The peregrine falcon population took a huge hit in the 1960s with the pesticide use. It hit all the raptors including falcons and bald eagles. Ohio took part in the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. The Ohio Division of Wildlife did some hacking efforts to raise chicks and release them. Nest structures were built for the birds in the cities. During this period we took DNA and blood samples in addition to banding the chicks. We moved to the next phase which continued the banding and monitoring of the nest success. Using the data we look at the life span and movement of the birds.”:
Each bird receives two bands. The first is a federal identification band with a ten-digit code while the second is a two-colored state band. The birds are banded at approximately three weeks of age. This is before they start to fledge and fly. The birds’ legs are fully developed in circumference to properly fit the bands. Additionally the legs are key to determining the sex of each bird as the females will have larger legs than the males. This year the nest included two females and one male. The Boonshoft Museum selected the names for the three chicks. They are Grant, Harrison and McKinley. The banding information, data and names are recorded to provide a permanent record of the birds.
Malas continues, “I have some great news to share as the peregrine falcon will be removed from the Ohio threatened species list this summer. They were removed from the federal list in 1999 but remained on the state list. The population is doing consistently well across the state. The peregrine falcon will continue to be protected federally under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The ODNR Division of Wildlife will continue to monitor the nest sites but will no longer band the chicks. I know we all enjoy the banding; however we must remember that was part of the effort to get the population established so they no longer require as much help. They are now successful and an important part of the biodiversity in Ohio.”
I will certainly miss the annual event. The peregrine falcon restoration efforts began in 1998 in Ohio with the first arrival in Dayton in 1992. I’ve had the pleasure to cover the peregrine falcon restoration efforts and the Dayton chick banding since 1999. At that time the nest site was the Lazarus Building which was scheduled for demolition. A number of adult falcons have called Dayton home over the years.. The birds have relocated around the downtown Dayton area several including the Liberty Bank Building, the AT&T Building and back to Liberty Bank.
Ohio’s peregrine falcon program is supported by the state income tax check-off program, donations to the Wildlife Diversity & Endangered Species Fund, and sales of the cardinal license plate. Donations can also be made via the Internet at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife. The Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp can also be purchased to help support the falcon program.
Partners in the peregrine monitoring project include the Glen Helen Raptor Center, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and the Liberty Savings Bank Tower staff. There have been many volunteers dubbed the “Falcon Patrol”. The nest can be viewed online at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery website www.boonshoftmuseum.org .