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