Day 27: leg bands update!

June 9, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

After sunrise at 5:07 AM, the peregrines started off the day under clear skies, calm wind conditions, and temp at 60F. The day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 81. West wind 5 to 8 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

2018.0609.1Just after 8:30 AM this morning, the peregrine chicks were laying around and snoozing in a loose huddle.  It is always notable to watch them become alert and ready for a nest feeding.  They rise up, look around, and prepare themselves for the incoming female.  When she arrived back at the nest box, one of the chicks grabbed the prey and scooted off to a corner…a clear sign they are growing and asserting some independence!

Yesterday was yet another falcon leg banding day in Eastern Massachusetts.  Each year, peregrine falcons are fitted with metal leg bands to provide researchers with valuable data on peregrine survival rates, dispersal distances, and population growth rates. The species remains on the endangered species list at the state level, but with about 40 mating pairs of adults statewide, there are more peregrine falcons in Massachusetts than ever before.

We had a nice update on the annual falcon leg banding in Lawrence yesterday from Tom French, who serves as the assistant director of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDFW) Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.  Tom, and a number of volunteers, banded 3 male chicks in Lawrence.

When the very aggressive young adult female attacked Tom in the nest box, he bravely caught and banded her, too!  In the process of capturing the adult, they broke the unhatched egg and found a two-thirds developed embryo.  As always, they gathered all of the feather debris for further study.

2018.0609.2The standard leg band for Peregrines is a silver metal band issued by the federal Bird Banding Lab. The band is inscribed with a unique 9 digit code that allows birds to be identified during future resights or captures. The photo on the left provides a look at the silver federal band on the right leg. A second bi-color band is fitted on the falcon’s opposite leg and includes a field-readable alpha-numeric code. In recent years, falcons in the Eastern US are banded with BLACK over GREEN (2000 – present). There are also several orientations and alphanumeric character arrangements on the bands. When reading a band, an observer should note the top character and its orientation (vertical or horizontal), the top background color, then note the bottom character code, orientation, and color.

Reference cited:

The Center for Conservation Biology, Report Falcon Sightings,