May 6, 2009

12th-floor falcons get help from friends

Human denizens of Salt Lake City are waiting for an annual blessed event, the hatching of chicks in a peregrine falcon nest high on an office building.

The birds now using a nest box on the 12th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building have produced three eggs, which are expected to hatch around May 22, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The box has been in use for more than 20 years.

Susan McFarland, a volunteer with the falcons, says that she learned of their existence four years ago after wondering for several years why pigeon feathers drifted past her office window. The pigeons, she discovered, had become falcon food.

McFarland said that fledging, when the chicks leave the nest, is a critical time in a busy city.

They don't know how to fly like their parents. We try to protect them from traffic and anything else in the environment that may hurt them if they land on the ground, McFarland said. If they end up on the ground they have no momentum to take off again so they are taken back to the top of the building to try again.