Wildlife News

See the SLC peregrine falcons

Young falcon is almost ready to fly

SALT LAKE CITY — You can see and learn more about the peregrine falcons in downtown Salt Lake City during a free field trip on June 20.

Three young peregrine falcons in the nest box in downtown Salt Lake.

In this photo taken in June 2012, the three falcons born that summer are shown in the nest box the day before they made their first flight.

Photo by Crystal Ross, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The field trip will happen on Temple Square at 6 p.m. Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, will lead the trip.

To participate, meet just east of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB) on Temple Square.

Walters says Salt Lake City's famous falcon pair deposited four eggs this spring in a nest box on the northeast side of the JSMB. "For unknown reasons," he says, "only one of the four eggs hatched."

Walters knows many people are disappointed that not all of the eggs hatched. "I know many people are disappointed," he says, "but that's part of nature."

If you attend the field trip on June 20, you should see the adult peregrines perched on the edge of the nest box or on the side of the JSMB. You might also see them fly to and from the box.

Walters says the recently hatched falcon isn't quite ready to fly yet. He thinks the young falcon will start flying about a week after the viewing event.

Join the rescue team

When the falcon takes those harrowing first flights, Walters and a team of volunteers will be on hand to rescue it. "You never know where young falcons will end up," Walters says. "We've had them land in the middle of the busy downtown streets and crash into the sides of buildings.

"But wherever the bird lands, we'll be there to pick it up."

If the bird isn't harmed, Walters will release it below the beehive atop the JSMB. "The idea is to rescue and release each young bird until the birds develop the confidence and competence to sustain themselves in flight," he says.

Walters says learning to fly in a downtown environment filled with glass, metal, rock and brick surfaces, is a major challenge for young falcons.

On the same evening the field trip is held, Walters will train anyone who wants to become a member of his volunteer Peregrine Falcon Watchpost/Rescue Team.

"We need your help," he says.

For more information about the field trip or the training, call Walters at 801-209-5326.

The June 20 field trip is part of the DWR's year-round Watchable Wildlife program.

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