Baby Falcon "Blizzard" Banding Event at Mayo Clinic

May 29, 2019 08:22 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Mayo Clinic has been partnering with the Midwest Peregrine Society for 30 years to recover the falcon species, and Wednesday they named the only chick to hatch this year.

Patients and Mayo Clinic employees watched while the 3-week-old female chick was retrieved from the top of the Gonda building, and watching just overhead were mom and dad.

Last year, the eggs didn't survive due to poisoning, according to officials. The Falcons only eat pigeons, so when the pigeons are poisoned- the Falcons suffer. This years' struggle was the weather. There were four eggs laid and only one survived. Although officials didn't confirm if the weather was the main reason, they strongly believe that's why the other babies didn't survive.

"This chick is a definite survivor. I've never watched a camera as much as I did this year because we had such horrific blizzard conditions. We had 12 hours of solid cold rain and yet mom did such a good job keeping that chick warm," said Jackie Fallon, the Vice President of Field operations with the Peregrine society. 

Fallon said the banding process is important to the Peregrine society. Not only does it help to keep track of the birds, but it also helps to understand how the birds are doing in the wild. 

"For us, we're going to put two different bands on the bird's legs, those bands will stay with that bird for its entire life, and I can read that band up to 700 feet away. We know peregrines have lived to be almost 20 years of age in the wild which nobody knew how long this recovered population could survive. So banding is a vitally important part of our work," said Fallon.

Officials placed the two bands on the chicks legs and then chose her name. The naming competition received over 500 submissions from online participants, employees, and patients at Mayo. Ironically fitting the crucial weather, the baby chick endured, her name ended u being Blizzard.

As the crowd cheered and laughed at the coincidental name, Behrens how the Peregrine program is not only important for the Falcon species but also the people of Mayo.

"I think last Monday we had almost 400 patients and staff that stopped you know on their busy day or whatever they got for appointments, just something they can take their minds off of what they have going on, and so that's the biggest part of this," said Behrens.

After Blizzard was banded and named, she was taken back to the roof and returned safely to her nesting box.

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