This morning I woke up early to exercise and heard a loud BAM! I looked out our front door and saw a little sparrow, its mouth gaping open and closed, open and closed. After maybe three or four seconds, its mouth closed and didn’t open again. I went outside, picked it up, but it was dead already. I love birds – and all wildlife – and it was such a sad way to start the day, holding a bird that has just died.
But fortunately for me, I got to see the other side of the life cycle today as well. This morning my meandering took me to 55 Water Street (check out their webcam accessible from that link) – the 14th floor to be exact, where a family of Peregrine falcons have been living and had hatched four baby birds. This morning was their turn to be banded so that they could be tracked and cared for over the course of their life.
I arrived at 55 Water Street around 9:45 and before too long we were on our way up to the 14th floor. Right away, I noticed that it looked familiar, a gigantic room full of loud noise and humongous equipment…then it hit me. I had been up here before when we set up the Wi-Fi for the Elevated Acre (where I got to go out on the ledge through a small crawlspace – that was fun and scary!).
Once again I was with my colleague, Jason, and he leaned over to me and said, “Here’s your meandering, walking through all of these passageways.” We essentially were walking through the nooks and crannies of the 14th floor, moving through small hallways, climbing through raised doorways until we came to the corner of the building, where the falcons nest was located.
When we got there the folks from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Wildlife division got all harnessed up and stepped out through the crawlspace out onto the ledge to grab the mother so she wouldn’t hurt them in her desire to protect her young. While we couldn’t see until he grabbed her, we could hear her screeching at him. But when we saw her, whoa, not only was she gorgeous, but she is one fierce bird. At one point she almost took off a piece of a woman’s hand.
Once she was settled, they started bringing in the babies, all fluffs of white and brown feathers, with no idea of what was happening. They were much easier to handle and each of the four was placed into a separate box. After all of the babies were brought inside, they were brought downstairs to a room filled with a large brown table, laid out with the necessary tools, surrounded by reporters and photographers.
The gentleman overseeing the care of the birds laid each baby bird on a towel before his colleagues and then went to work. They checked for feather lice, for earworms, for any problems with their mouth, how their wings were, and then they banded them. The birds screeched throughout, but probably more from the chaos and people than any actual pain.
Then we wound our way back to the 14th floor, through all of the nooks and crannies and found ourselves at their nest once again. They released the baby birds back into their nest and got out of there before the mother could get too angry with them. Check out our other pictures on Flickr.
Considering how my day started, it was even more amazing to stand only inches away from these incredible, powerful, birds, seeing the life they had, the future ahead of them, and all of these people committed to their health and safety.
It was a great way to spend my morning in Lower Manhattan.