Philly's City Hall fledgling falcons soar again

High above the Center City Philadelphia fray - both the political and street traffic - a nesting pair of peregrine falcons has successfully raised four babies this spring.

With little fanfare, for the third straight year the pair of endangered raptors has made their home on a ledge of the 15th floor tower of City Hall, although pairs have nested there as far back as the 1940s.

In 2010 the current pair moved across the street to the Wachovia building, likely because of the restoration activity in the tower, falcon watchers say.

The babies, all male, were given individualized leg bands on May 23, which will allow ornithologists to track them throughout their lives. (See video below from WPVI which captured the noisy banding event).

The chicks, known as eyases, also got a quick health check which they passed with flying colors.

And good thing too.

Just this past weekend all four took their first flights over the city under the watchful eye of Ed Mutzer, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and others, including nearby office dwellers who monitor their activities.

Soon they will be snatching their prey (mostly pigeons) in mid-air, flying at speeds in excess of 200 mph.

Seems the hawks of the Franklin Institute and the falcons at the Rachel Carson Department of Environmental Protection building in Harrisburg - which both have 24/7 cameras trained on them giving viewers around the world a close up view of nature in action - get more attention.

In fact, check on Tuesday for my story on the high drama that has unfolded this spring in the skies over Harrisburg.

Perhaps the City Hall falcons will generate their own following and a higher media profile soon. Discussions are underway to install a web cam at the City Hall nest next year, Mutzer said.