Peregrine falcons ready to take flight
MUNCY – When crossing over the Muncy/Montgomery bridge on Rt. 405, one might easily encounter a fledgling peregrine falcon learning to fly. On Friday morning members of the PA Game Commission banded two of the young chicks that hatched just a little over three weeks ago according to Wes Egli from the Audubon Society.
In mid-June they checked the nest to see if the eggs had hatched. There were three of them, but only two hatched according to Egli. “We also did a nest check on June 27 when we discovered just 2 of them. One was male and one was female but they were too young to be banded.”
PennDot assisted the Game Commission by using their special equipment (a Snooper Crane) to get up to the Muncy bridge to check on the falcons that were nesting under the river bridge. They had to do this three times before the timing was right to band the young birds. They were finally successful Friday morning, July 18.
For two years a careful watch on the falcons has been kept by members of the Audubon Society who made regular inspections to insure their safety and well being. “Having a pair of falcons nesting on the Muncy Bridge is a moment of history for Muncy,” said Egli who replied that these Peregrine falcons are usually seen in the Montgomery hills where they often nest, but seldom this close to land and water, and this close to Muncy.
The banding of these endangered birds helps to keep track of them and where they might go from here. Right now they are learning to fly. According to Egli who lives in Picture Rocks, the young falcons will stay close to the nest site while they continue to grow and move around. Around the first week in August they will begin to fly on their own. “Being above the water could be a hazard, but we will continue to watch,” he said. The adult birds will keep track of where they fly and help their young survive. They will not be able to do great distances at first, and if they do leave the nesting site, the banding will help track them in flight. Peregrine falcons are known to build their nests on bridges and buildings. “These birds will probably be around until the fall,” concluded Egli who also said that the adults will continue to feed them for some time.
The nest cannot be seen from the ground, and earlier in the year the adult falcons had switched their nest from the eastern end of the bridge to the western Muncy side.
Dan Brauning and Mario Giazzon, of the Game Commission, and PennDOT employee Bob Brown discovered the nest proving the species is thriving, at least locally.
Although the three men had to keep a watch out for the father falcon diving to protect the nest, the mother falcon stayed with her eggs. Both adults continue to stay with the fledglings, and the Game Commission hopes that the numbered leg bands on each of the chicks will track their locations now that the information is recorded and filed.