Photojournalists Mark Davis and Kyle Benecke were on hand Wednesday as representatives from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Raptor Recovery Nebraska banded and checked the health of the five offspring of Hera and Zeus, peregrine falcons that nest on the 28th floor of the Woodmen Tower. Below, Davis shares his experience.
I’ve always been a little nervous at high altitudes. To think that the peregrine falcons are raising their young on the ledge of the 28th floor of the Woodmen Tower made me scared for the fluffy, clumsy chicks.
But they are in good hands. Hera and Zeus are experienced parents. They have been together raising healthy offspring since 2006.
And they have great help. The folks at Raptor Recovery Nebraska and the non-game bird specialists at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are amazing.
As I watched the team work confidently with the birds, tagging and drawing blood, I knew how afraid I would be if I were asked to step in. The chicks are cute, but they have sharp talons and beaks, and they were unhappy to be handled. According to Joel Jorgensen, the non-game bird program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the timing of the tagging is important because the birds can be dangerous after a certain age. Watching Hera dive-bomb the workers at the nest at amazing speeds helped to drive home the point.
In 2008, Hera was injured in a fight with another female. The clutch was lost that year, but Hera was saved with help from the Raptor Recovery Nebraska group. They took in Hera and nursed her back to health in time for the next mating season. She and Zeus produced five eggs and four healthy offspring.
Next year will be the 25th anniversary for the falcon program at the Woodmen Tower. It is important in helping a once-endangered species make a comeback and a wonderful learning tool for anyone willing to take the time to read through the websites of these two great Nebraska groups.