Biologists band peregrine chicks in Whitewater State Park
ELBA — When Jim Mussell began rappelling down the side of the bluff at Whitewater State Park on Thursday morning, he knew he would find at least one peregrine falcon chick in a small cave.
When the professional climber from Bloomington reached the aerie, however, he found four fuzzy white chicks just beginning to get feathers. He put the three females and one male into a special box that was hoisted to the top where biologists from several different groups took blood samples and put two bands on each bird so they could be identified later.
Such banding was unheard of 30 years ago because peregrines, the fastest bird in the world, had disappeared from the entire Upper Midwest. But now, there are at least 60 nesting pairs in Minnesota, perhaps even more than when settlers first arrived because tall buildings and bridges double as nesting areas.
AFter the four chicks were checked and photographed, Mussell put them back in their nest.