Multimedia Intern, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
When I walked into EEA for my first day as an intern last month, I had no idea I would end up at the top of the Marriott Custom House hotel in downtown Boston, climbing spiral staircases and taking pictures of baby peregrine falcons. After a quick orientation, I met up with my supervisor who asked me if I’d be interested in seeing falcons getting banded. I eagerly said yes.
At the hotel, we took the elevators to the observation deck on the 26th floor where I waited with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin and onlookers gathered in hallway below the nest waiting to see biologists band the birds. Moments later, Norman Smith from the Massachusetts Audubon Society walked out carrying four squawking peregrine falcon chicks.
At just three weeks old, their beaks already looked as though they could take off a finger, but Norman bravely held each chick as Jessica Remple of DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) handed him the bands to be placed on each chick’s legs. Even though they kept snapping away at his fingers, Norman explained to the group the habits of falcons in the area, and why banding is so important. On the endangered list for almost 50 years, peregrine falcons have only recently seen resurgence in population growth. Secretary Sullivan helped Norman band the last of the falcon chicks.
Afterwards, I followed Norman up to the tower to see the chicks’ nest. Out the window of the tower, the father circled the tower while the mother sat on the edge of the nest gazing at us. While I was terrified of her flying in and attacking us, Norman climbed out the window to clean the nest and took my camera to snap a picture.
Suddenly without warning, Norman lunged for the bird, grabbed her legs and gave her to Jessica who placed her into a black canister, which kept the bird silent. After Jessica wrote down the bird’s band numbers, Norman held her out in the middle of the room for everyone to admire.
Her eyes looked like massive, black holes, and she could turn her head a near 360 degrees. When I went for a photo, Norman thrust the bird a few inches closer so she was right in front of my nose. She was a majestic creature, and for a split second my heart stopped in fear that she would leap for me.
If you want to learn more about amazing creatures and their nesting habits in hopes that they’ll one day wind up on your building, check out MassWildlife’s fact sheet on falcons.