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CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
e-mail: george-mccrory@uiowa.edu

Release: June 5, 2000

UI Raptor Project to band peregrine falcon chicks

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Macbride Raptor Project will be banding four 28-day-old peregrine falcon chicks nested atop the Firstar Bank, 222 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids on Thursday, June 8 at 10 a.m.

The falcons will be taken from their nesting box atop the bank and brought to the bank's conference room on the second floor for banding, according to Jodeanne Cancilla, project coordinator of the Macbride Raptor Project, co-sponsored by the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College. A lavender band will be placed on one leg of each bird, and this will show that it is has been identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A red and black band will be placed on the other leg of each bird to identify it as a raptor from the Cedar Rapids area.

Blood samples will also be drawn at this time. The samples will be filed, and if another decline in peregrine falcon population occurs in Iowa, more falcons with a similar genetic code can be brought into the state. The samples, along with future blood tests, will monitor the levels of pesticide in the birds' blood.

This wild nest is from one of only two nesting pairs of peregrines in Iowa. Peregrines mate for life, and this pair has nested on top of Firstar Bank since 1993. They have raised 22 young, including these four hatchlings, and fostered one.

The four young falcons are part of a peregrine restoration project that began in 1989 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Until 1992, 50 peregrines were released in Iowa, and through 1995, 756 were released in the Midwest.

Peregrine falcons, a state- and federally-endangered species, are crow-sized birds, averaging 13 to 16 inches long from beak to tail. Prior to 1960, there were more than 350 nests in the eastern United States. By 1975 only 39 pairs remained in the lower 48 states. DDT pesticides were the main cause of decline.

Some 60 percent of peregrines die during the first year, after which they have an 80 percent chance of surviving subsequent years. The oldest known peregrine in the Midwest was 10 years old.

The Macbride Raptor Project, founded in 1985, is devoted to preserving Iowa's birds of prey and their natural habitats. The project achieves its goals through the rehabilitation of sick and injured birds, educational programs for the public and field research of Iowa's native raptors.

For more information, call Cancilla at (319) 398-5495.