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Posted on Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 9:08 a.m.

2 peregrine falcon chicks returned to nest atop University of Michigan Hospital after rehab

By Kellie Woodhouse

Two baby peregrine falcons hatched atop University of Michigan Hospital have rejoined their parents after a few weeks in rehab.

The chicks —Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson— on June 9 accidentally flew down from their nest at the top of the hospital and were unable to get back up because they lacked wing strength. . The Michigan Department of National Resources rehabilitated the birds, helping them condition their wings, and then reunited them with their family.

Michigan DNR Specialist Christine Becher said it's not unusual for chicks nesting in urban areas to mistakenly "helicopter" down from their nests while exercising their wings.

"It occasionally happens. The birds are practicing flapping with their wings which they do to strengthen those muscles and occasionally... they become airborne," she said.

"When this happens, they become grounded. Because of being in an urban area where they can get hit by cars or hurt in different ways, we give them some rehab," she said.

The specialists help the birds strengthen their flight muscles until they are at the point where they are "ready to fly appropriately and safely," Becher said.

The chicks hatched, along with sisters Maize and Blue, at the end of April. Maize died on June 11 from injuries sustained after falling from her nest. Blue never fell from the nest and is healthy.

By August or September, the chicks will fly off and establish a new home. Becher says the survival rate for peregrine falcons during their first year is between 60 and 80 percent. They won't return to the hospital nest to mate.

The chicks join a growing family of peregrine falcons hatched in Ann Arbor. Last year four chicks hatched atop the hospital and were named Bo, Fritz, Lloyd and Yost. Three of those fledglings also dropped from the hospital roof and were placed in rehab until they gained wing strength.

In spring 2010 the falcons successfully hatched a trio of chicks. Another nesting box has been installed on North Quad.

Peregrine falcons are endangered in Michigan. U-M's campus has been home to two grown peregrines since 2006. In urban areas, Falcons tend to nest on tall buildings or bridges because of their similarity to high cliffs and ledges.

Becher said there are 16 known groupings of peregrine falcons that the DNR monitors, four of which are new nests that were established within the last year.

Watch a U-M-produced video of the reunion:

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

Upon request by for an interview on this subject, Tippi Hedren replied, "No Comment"

Dirty Mouth

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Thanks for the update and video.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

I was present for the Falcon Drama last night at Babo's: A pair of Falcons chased a pigeon into a window of the 411 Lofts, and it fell to the sidewalk, dead. They were diving and shrieking for a long time, not quite comfortable with actually landing and picking up the pigeon, what with all of the foot traffic. Finally, after about a half-hour, there had evidently been enough complaints that a couple of workers came out with a broom, dustpan, and garbage bag. I shouted over to them, "Don't do it!" but of course they had to. I said, "Here, give me the bird," and I set it down across the street, on the wood chips by some bushes. I did it in plain sight of one of the Falcons, which was perched on the top of the bank. But, when I drove by this AM to take a peek, the pigeon was still there, kicked a bit further under the bushes by somebody. Oh, well, I tried. And those Falcons will hardly starve with all of the plentiful prey around here!


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

So now there'll be four of them. They should put up signs or something, so people don't think a flock of vultures is circling the hospital waiting for something to die.

Matt Cooper

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Working at the UM, I've seen these beautiful birds many times and am glad to see the babies finally made their way home again. They are truly majestic and a thing of beauty! Thank you DNR for taking good care of them.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

WholeDude - Whole Artist : As the saying goes, "birds of same feather flock together," the chicks get a chance to get reunited with members of their family as they have the ability called color recognition. The birds are visually capable and yet lack the cognitive abilities that are needed for color generation. To generate the specific coloration, patterns, and markings, it requires the understanding of the laws of Physics and Chemistry apart from the laws of inheritance that gives the ability to store biological information in the genetic code. A 'Whole Artist' is an entity that creates his own canvas, uses his own structural elements, creates his own pigments and mixes them fully knowing the spectral characteristics of the chemicals involved, and gives life to his artistic work. It pleases the artist, when the artistic creation finds the strength to achieve its purpose.

Speedy Squirrel

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

...and in a related story, the Michigan legislature began consideration of a Peregrine Falcon hunting season. "Citizens are concerned that their pet hamsters could be carried off", stated one legislator.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

Speedy - Great post! It reminded of that West Point Cadet who found a small mouse in his dorm room. He fed the mouse for a couple weeks and then he decided to release it back into the wild. His friend was video taping the entire episode, when out of the corner of the lense you can see this bird (most likely a Falcon) do a dive bomb from the tree tops and grab the mouse in his mouth and carry it away. It was hilarious. You could probably google "west point cadet mouse" and you would get a hit on it/


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Hope the parents don't reject the chicks who may smell like humans.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

This is a common misconception with regards to wildlife and their young, especially re: birds who have pretty limited sense of smell.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

I'm guessing that the DNR specialists know how to circumvent this problem.