Meet The River Hawks

Falcon Chicks Banding - June 16, 2014

A team from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) led by biologist Tom French successfully banded all four chicks this morning. French placed color-coded metal I.D. bands around the chicks’ legs to help scientists keep track of their migration and life histories as well as reproductive cycles. He determined the brood to consist of three females and one male (the smallest).

He also checked on the brood’s overall health.

“The chicks are all doing well, considering it’s only the mom [Merri] who has been feeding them lately,” says French. Mack, Merri’s longtime mate, was found dead on campus a couple of weeks ago.

“This is the first time in the state’s history that one of the parent falcons was lost during the nesting season,” notes French.

Merri is doing her best to hunt and feed her growing family. “With less food to go around, however, there’s no guarantee that all chicks will survive,” says French.

He says Merri can take in a “floater,” an adult unmated falcon that enters the area, to replace Mack.

falcon-banding-2014-opt.jpg“The new mate could be helpful in feeding the chicks or he could be aggressive and hostile toward them,” explains French. “Nobody knows for sure what would happen.”

Aside from the DFW team, other people present during the banding included biologist Dee Blanton of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a reporter and photographer from the Lowell Sun, DFW volunteers Dave and Ursula Goodine and staff members from the Office of University Relations.