An excited crowd joined the Evanston Public Library staff in meeting, naming and banding the newest peregrine falcons on May 31. For the last seven years, the same pair (Nona and Squawker) has nested at the Library. In late March, the first of four baby peregrine falcon eggs was spotted. On May 2, the first egg hatched; a few days later, a second chick hatched. The last two never hatched, and will be examined to determine why.
More than 60 people, from toddlers to seniors, came to see the falcon babies, or "eyases" (EYE-ah-sez).
Mary Hennen, director of the Chicago Peregrine Program and a scientist at the Field Museum of Natural History, put on a helmet and climbed a ladder to the ledge of the Library’s third floor, where she carefully picked up the babies and brought them inside to determine their gender. Gender is determined by the size of the birds – females are significantly larger – and is not always accurate. The Library chicks were determined to be a girl and a boy.
Matt Gies, who has worked on the Chicago Peregrine Program since its inception in 1986, helped collect the birds from the nest. His work includes attending hack (release) sites, banding birds and measuring adult peregrines and chicks. Currently, Gies is the registrar for the animal collection at the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Veterinarian Barbara Royal was on hand with several veterinary technicians to help gather blood samples. Over a dozen children gathered to see the falcon babies up close.
The public helped vote for names for the baby falcons with online and paper ballots. Evanston Public Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons introduced the winning names.
The female was named Marigold and the male Gribley after Sam Gribley, the boy who befriends a falcon in the young adult classic, "My Side of the Mountain."
The babies are expected to take flight in mid-June.
Some additional facts:
• Peregrines can reach speeds of 200 mph, making them the fastest creatures on earth.
• The scientific name Falco peregrinus, means "wandering falcon" in Latin.
• Total young produced at the Evanston Public Library: 30.