CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Wilmington Peregrine Falcons again full family
unit after revitalized chick’s return to nest box
WILMINGTON (May 14, 2013) – With the recent return to the nest box of a chick that was artificially fed and cared for by human hand while it gained weight and strength to fend for itself in the box, the Wilmington Peregrine Falcons of DNREC Falcon Cam fame have regained the family dynamic as the four chicks prepare to fledge.
Nesting high above the streets of downtown Wilmington, on the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building, adult falcons successfully hatched four eggs in April. The hatching of the fourth egg occurred three days after the first three, leaving a smaller, virtually helpless chick with little chance to compete with its larger siblings and a low chance of survival. After authorization from DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife raptor biologist Craig Koppie made an emergency intercession, and removed the chick from the nest, nurturing it for two weeks until it reached a size – and had a fighting appetite for life – comparable to its siblings’. (See adjacent photos by Mr. Koppie for comparison.)
Upon returning the chick to the nest box, Mr. Koppie reported to DNREC biologist Anthony Gonzon that “The mother” – affectionately known as Red Girl” to Falcon Cam devotees – “brought in a small bird and fed the other siblings until the very last piece, which she gave to the little one. My little buddy received his first piece of food from his mother since he hatched!” About an hour and half later, Red Girl “came in with a pigeon. The young male forced his way to the front and was fed by the mother until his crop was full.”
Mr. Koppie himself returned to the nest box Tuesday morning to band the young falcons before their first flight and eventual departure for their own territory. All four chicks from the “class of 2013” were found to be thriving. Earlier, he had reflected on his rearing of the fourth chick, which quite likely saved its life, and its return to the nest box: “I liked his overall progress and physical abilities (for returning it to the nest box). I felt confident about the timing and development stages of the other siblings and that he would likely fit in.”
USFWS raptor biologist Craig Koppie, captured on the DNREC Falcon Cam – airing via DNREC partners Delaware Ornithological Society and DuPont's Clear Into the Future initiative – as he finishes banding four Peregrine Falcon chicks Tuesday May 14 on the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building in Wilmington.
Falcon photos: US Fish & Wildlife Service/Craig Koppie
Vol. 43, No. 195