On May 23, Woodmen of the World held its annual falcon banding on the 28th floor of the Woodmen Tower. To limit disturbance to the birds, only a select few had the opportunity to attend the banding. This year among those in attendance was 10-year-old Rebecca Hansen. She lives in Omaha and attends school at Swanson elementary, where she and her classmates watch the falcons everyday. Here she shares her own perspective of the banding with other falcon fans.
Rebecca’s Falcon Blog
On Wednesday, May 23rd, I got to go to the 28th floor of the Woodman Tower and watch the falcon banding. When I got to the 28th floor, I saw an amazing view of Omaha and noticed Hera, the mommy falcon, flying around by the window. I was so excited to see her chicks. My daddy and I watched the as the biologists brought the chicks inside and put them in a box. They had to open the window and use a cardboard “shield” that fits the size of the window except for a couple of inches at the bottom. They got the chicks from under that little space. Hera was flying by and was running into the shield trying to protect her chicks.
There were 5 chicks: 2 females and 3 males. They were so fluffy and adorable!! They still had their white down. They were just starting to get their pinfeathers, which are black. The chicks were brought to a big table. Each chick’s ankle was measured to see what size band it would need. Once the right sized band was picked, they used pliers to clamp it on. The chicks were squawking the whole time!! Each chick took its turn getting a band.
After the banding, each chick had to have blood drawn! A thing that looked like a freshly sharpened crayon with a needle on it was used to take blood from the chick’s wing. The biologists helped each other to stretch out the wings. One would hold the wing, one would hold the body, and one would hold a glove upright so the chick couldn’t see what was going on. I think they didn’t want the chicks to be scared!! They REALLY squawked!! I don’t blame them – I would have squawked too. It was kind of gross and scary!!
When all of the chicks were done with the banding and blood work, the table was cleared off. They put down a little rug and set the chicks on the rug for their photo session!! It is a tradition to have the chicks all line up to take pictures. They were all squawking, then one chick stopped. Its like they were communicating with each other and decided to be done with the squawking and it was suddenly quiet. Once it was quiet, everybody clapped and cheered – and then they started squawking again. After the photo shoot, the chicks went back into the box. They had to use the shield again to put the chicks back into the nest. The window closed and Hera sat at the edge of the nest and looked at her babies. She then flew away to get the chicks some food. I looked at the chicks as they were back in their nest and they looked back at me with their cute little eyes. It made me so happy!
It was the best thing ever to get to meet the chicks! They were so cute and fluffy – and I got to miss school and get a cool gift bag with my very own stuffed falcon, which I named The Incredible Hulk.