Falcon Photo-Op Day (and Naming Ceremony) is also an educational opportunity

On Thursday, May 30, 2019, Cofrin Library rolled out the green carpet to greet the latest additions to UW-Green Bay’s feathered family. A flock of nearly 100 bird-lovers gathered in the library pavilion for the third annual debut party of Mimi and Rupert’s offspring. This marks the third consecutive year, with successful nests in 2017, 18 and 19.

At a long table, Greg Septon, “founding father” of Wisconsin Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project and UW-Green Bay Prof. Amy Wolf (Biology) co-hosted the ceremony. Septon extracted each chick, or eyass (pronounced ‘eye-yass’), from a single pet carrier, announced the gender and then attached bands to each leg with a pop rivet. Wolf, christened each with a ceremonial name. Once completed, it was back into the container and the next one fetched for the adoring crowd.

Bird one was extracted from the carrier. A big ball of down perched on near fully-grown legs.

Septon delivered the news: “It’s a male.”

“We’re naming the birds after prominent conservation biologists,” Wolf announced, “so this one’s name is Leopold, for Aldo Leopold.”

For those who have made the trek up to UW-Green Bay’s Provost Office or over to Mary Ann Cofrin Hall to view the webcam broadcast of the blue jay-feather-festooned nesting box (Peregrine’s favorite meal), quickly notice these birds appear much larger face- to-face than on the screen.

Wolf has her theories why blue jays are a family favorite… “They’re very conspicuous and larger, so they’re a good meal.” Adding that on observation of all nesting Peregrine falcons in the area, blue jays are a preferred entrée.

“Alright. One down.” Septon tells the crowd. It’s time for the reveal of bird No. 2. Despite their downy appearance, leather gloves protected Septon from the young raptor’s sharp talons and beaks.

Another male.

“That one’s Muir, for John Muir.” (An influential Scottish-American naturalist also known as “Father of National Parks.”) Wolf informed the crowd.

The next bird out was bigger, louder and considerably more displeased with the events.

“Anyone want to guess the sex?” Septon offered. The crowd laughs a little. “The females are always louder and a little more difficult to deal with.” The crowd groaned a little. He quickly added “Only Peregrine. It’s always true.”

“Rachel,” Professor Wolf announced “for (nature writer) Rachel Carson.”

“OK, one more.” Septon fished out the final falcon, a male, christened Thoreau. Banding completed, it was time for the photo op, but not before a bit of cautionary advice from Septon. “You can get relatively close but every once in a while, a chick decides it’s going to run. If that happens, everyone just freeze,” he advised. None made a break for it while cameras and cellphones record the events.

And as far as getting the birds back to the roof, that task falls to current Biology students Brandon Byrne and Noah Nie. They’ve been in charge of maintaining the nesting box. For them, the process has been both a labor of bird-loving and a serious learning experience.

“They’ve been fun to watch. Going from unhatched eggs to today.” Nie says. “A lot of our research is on nest behavior. How both parents interact with the young.”

Branden also notes that the adult bird interaction has had its dramatic moments. “There was another (banded) female from Milwaukee, named Bratcha, who showed up when Mimi went missing. For a while, we thought, ‘oh no.’ There had been a pretty bad snow storm in January or February. But then Mimi came back and Bratcha left.”

All the televised research and intrigue would have not been possible without the technical expertise of recent graduate Jacob Woulf ’19 (Biology) who devised and installed “Peregrine Cam” with funding assistance from avid community birders Paul and Annie Mueller.

Though the nest will soon be empty, research continues with Byrne, Nie and Woulf assisting Prof. Wolf. “ All three students are continuing to work with me on a research project aimed at describing the behaviors of the Peregrine based on stored video footage. Ultimately, we hope to submit a research paper based on the results.”

It’s obvious these birds did not crave the spotlight. In fact, their celebrity status is fleeting. In a week or two, flight feathers will have completely replaced down and Leopold, Muir, Rachel and Thoreau will have flown their nesting box.

Offspring are not welcomed back home. But one of the benefits of banding is that these birds can be tracked. (One offspring is reported to have a nest in Eau Claire.) Plus the webcam has been a valuable research tool for students studying nesting, incubating and feeding behavior. As for Mimi and Rupert? If recent history is any indication, they won’t stay empty-nesters for long. Stay tuned for next season…

This public event was a quiet kick-off to the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity’s 20th Anniversary year of celebration. Details TBA.

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Peregrine Falcon Banding 2019

– Story by Michael Shaw; Photos and video by Daniel Moore

Falcon Cam Photo

Four little falcons, sitting in a nest…

Sounds like the start of a children’s rhyme. Take a walk to the Provost Office for a look at the four baby falcons via the “PhalCON” camera viewing station. Enjoy the view!

Congratulations to Rupert and Mimi, the Peregrine parents of four fuzzy eyasses (baby falcons) hatched recently on the UW-Green Bay campus. The Provost office has a closed-circuit video of the falcon family, and you are welcome to stop by for a viewing. The Green Bay Audubon Student Conservation Chapter has been keeping close tabs.

Photos: Falcon Rescue 2018

Recently, UW-Green Bay Police officers helped transport the peregrine falcon chicks back from the ground (or other various places they landed) to the roof of the library where their parents could care for them. Between Friday and Monday night (June 15 to June 18, 2018), a total of six transports were needed to keep the eyases safe from predators until they can learn to fly on their own. Falcon caregivers asked that the campus community be on the lookout for any of these little ones in need and call officers at 920-465-2300 ext. 2, if they are seen where they don’t belong. See UW-Green Bay Public Safety’s original facebook album.

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Peregrine Watch 2018
– Photos courtesy of UW-Green Bay Public Safety

Peregrine lookout!

Faculty and staff are asked to keep an eye out for the young peregrine falcons as they attempt to fly during this time. If found on the ground, Public Safety 465-2300, #2 should be alerted, as they are trained to handle the birds and get them back to their nest. Please stay with the falcon until Public Safety arrives, as the birds will wander off and attempt short flights. Last year five trips were made to get the falcons back to the nest before they were truly ready to fly. Thank you for looking out for our young!

Rupert and Mimi are proud parents once again

It’s a girl! And a boy! And another boy! Well, one female and two males. Resident Peregrine parents Rupert and Mimi, were once again successful in hatching three fuzzy falcons near the rooftop of UW-Green Bay’s makeshift cliff, the Cofrin Library. They were banded Wednesday, May 30, 2018 in the plaza level of the Cofrin Library. See video and photos.

2018 peregrine falcon hatchlings, Annie, Gary, and Tom

Banding together: Annie, Gary and Tom

It’s a girl! And a boy! And another boy! Well, one female and two males. Resident Peregrine parents Rupert and Mimi, were once again successful in hatching three fuzzy falcons near the rooftop of UW-Green Bay’s makeshift cliff, the Cofrin Library. They were banded Wednesday, May 30, 2018 in the plaza level of the Cofrin Library.

It’s the second consecutive successful hatch on the campus, thrilling bird-lovers who are cheering on the endangered birds as they are reclaiming territory in Northeast Wisconsin. Peregrine falcons are native to Wisconsin but had vanished by the 1960s due to habitat loss and extremely low production of young. Pesticides such as DDT thinned the eggs of the raptors, causing them to fail. One of the eggs did not hatch and will be kept for research purposes.

The seven-week-old falcons were quickly named this year (no campus contest) for those who helped Greg Septon (Wisconsin Falcon Watch) with the banding process. Annie (for Annie and Paul Mueller — bird enthusiasts who have donated a sum of money to install a webcam for the next year’s nest box), Gary (for Chancellor Gary L. Miller) and Tom (for Tom Erdman, Emeritus Curator, Richter Museum). Congratulations to the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and all involved with this success story!

Read last year’s story which provides a brief history of the falcon reintroduction on the UW-Green Bay campus. See more photos taken by Richter Museum Curator Daniel Meinhardt.

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Peregrine Falcon Banding 2018
– Photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communications