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Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA reunites Peregrine Falcon chicks with their parents

By Hope Bidegainberry on June 17, 2020

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) recently reunited two Peregrine Falcon chicks with their parents who built a nest inside the United Airlines hangar at San Francisco International Airport.

“Two Peregrine Falcon chicks arrived at our Wildlife Care Center this past May after they had been found on the ground and unable to fly at a United Airlines hangar at San Francisco International Airport,” said PHS/SPCA Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox.  “Their parents had built a nest high up in the hangar, and the pre-fledging chicks became stranded on the ground.  United Airlines and airport staff became very concerned about the safety of the chicks, so they were brought to our Burlingame wildlife center for evaluation and treatment.”

The chicks were estimated to be about one month old.  One of the baby birds had a soft tissue injury, which was treated by PHS/SPCA wildlife staff.  Once the chicks had fully recovered, PHS/SPCA worked with the United Airlines and airport staff to develop a plan to reunite the babies with their parents at the hangar.

“We needed to get the chicks as close to the nest and their parents as possible without causing too much stress to the birds,” according to Tarbox.  “The nest was located high up in the hangar, so with the babies safely secure in a kennel, we advanced closer to the nest by climbing up onto the hangar’s catwalk.  The falcon parents must have known we had their chicks since they were following our staff and screaming at them the entire time.  Once we were in a safe area on the catwalk, we opened the kennel door and the chicks walked towards their parents.  It was a very happy reunion!”

Peregrine falcons are native to the San Francisco Bay Area, and it isn’t uncommon for them to build nests in areas such as airport hangars.  Breeding pairs usually have 2-3 chicks a year.

“Thanks to the vigilance and concern from United Airlines and airport staff and our skilled wildlife rehabilitation team, these two Peregrine Falcon chicks are back where they belong: with their parents,” said Tarbox.

PHS/SPCA’s Wildlife Care Center successfully rehabilitates 1,200 to 1,400 animals each year and is funded entirely by donations.