The Importance of Banding and Blood Sampling Peregrine Falcons
World Bird Sanctuary’s reintroduction program put over 80 captive hatched peregrines back into Missouri’s wild, and WBS continues to band babies produced by up to 6 nests of wild parents in the greater St. Louis area.
We band and draw blood to gain knowledge on the species and our environment. The bands we place on each leg will be registered with the U. S. Geological Survey, so if the bands are ever seen or recovered, we will know when and where the chicks were banded and can draw some conclusions on the individual’s movements, breeding situation preferences (if we see the banded individual at another nest), and of course age. For instance, if it wasn’t for the bands the Portage de Sioux Energy Center adult Peregrines have on, we wouldn’t know that the male (Coal) was banded as a chick by me in 2004 at Ameren Missouri’s Labadie Energy Center, and the female was banded as a chick in 2006 at a state park in Minnesota.
DDT, the pesticide responsible for bringing the Peregrine close to extinction, would have been found and probably banned from use in the U.S. sooner if blood samples had been being taken in the 50’s and 60’s. Even though Peregrines were taken of the endangered species list in 1998 and are quite common now, taking blood samples when all is well allows us to monitor any other human produced chemicals that could be building in the environment. Chemicals in the top predators, which include birds of prey, will accumulate and cause problems more quickly because of a process called “Biological Magnification.” For example, let’s say that over a 2 week period a Peregrine eats 20 Stone Rollers (a small shore bird). If each of those Stone Rollers has a little of a bad chemical in them, that chemical is magnified, or builds more quickly in the Peregrine’s system. Having the good fortune and ability to monitor a top predator’s blood allows biologists to keep a very close eye on our environment, which in the long run, keeps the environment healthy for us.