NEWBURYPORT — State biologists gingerly plucked a trio of young peregrine falcons from their nest on the Gillis Bridge on Friday morning and placed ID bands on one leg of each bird.
The team from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife was on site to place a small metal band around one leg of each of the birds, each band bearing a unique identification number that can be used to keep track the bird's location and lifespan, according to Marion Larson, chief of information and education for MassWildlife.
Larson said this was the second year that the birds have nested on one of the main bridge pillars. But this year, the adult birds may have tried to settle in another nest that later failed, so they moved into a nest box erected by MassWildlife to lure the birds to a safer area.
"A nest box can be more protection against the elements than sitting out in an exposed area," said Larson, adding that although peregrines are listed as "threatened" on the Massachusetts Endangered Species List, MassWildlife is in the process of upgrading their status "because they have been doing so well."
Larson said peregrine falcons are normally banded by the third week of June, but because this group re-nested, the birds' banding date was pushed back to a somewhat abnormal date.
"We don't band the birds until they're large enough to accept it," said Larson. "It's sort of like a bangle bracelet they'll have on for life."
Larson said the numbers on each band will be visible only to those with binoculars or a good camera, and that people who spot the birds can report their location to MassWildlife.
More information on peregrine falcons is available at visit https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/qe/falco-peregrinus.pdf
Jack Shea may contacted at at 978-961-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.