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Peregrine falcon chicks are banded for restoration efforts

Peregrine falcon chicks are banded for restoration efforts. // WSBT 22 photo

It's something that's been happening in South Bend for more than 25 years, the banding of peregrine falcons.

The restoration effort has helped bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

The project has been successful. Including this year's group of chicks 45 baby falcons have been raised there.

These birds were almost wiped out decades ago and now the population is thriving.

High above the sky a pair of falcons fly guarding their babies.

They watch closely as retired DNR biologist John Castrale heads over to the nest to get the four chicks for banding, three boys and one girl.

"The peregrine parents are pretty protective around the nest site, and we want to see that behavior because their doing what they should do. Some pairs are a lot more protective than others. This pair if just moderately aggressive,” said Castrale.

The banding helps wildlife experts track population increases, longevity and survival rates.

"A number of people especially falconers had peregrines in captivity which they figured out how to breed in captivity and so, that was the impetus and source of young birds that were released as part of restoration efforts,” said Castrale.

The banding went smoothly despite some very loud protesting from the chicks.

"Their stressed a little bit when we get them out of the nest and everything like that, and they do a lot of vocalizing. But it's a temporary type of stress,” said Castrale.

Castrale gives credit to South Bend and St. Joseph County for providing a nest site on top of the county-city building.

"A lot of the increase in the population is due to providing a nice, safe nest sites,” said Castrale.

Peregrines are considered the fastest birds in the world, with dives clocking in at up to 250 miles per hour.

"I believe strongly in this project and it's really nice to be a part of probably one of the most successful wildlife restoration projects," said Castrale.

The young birds will start flying in a few weeks.

They roam for a few years before finding a place to nest. That will happen when they are around 2 to 3-years-old.

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