For the 10th year, on May 30, peregrine falcons were banded at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave. A crowd of nearly 130 people gathered on the west side of the third floor to view the banding of one female and three male falcons, called eyases.
The males were named Gies, after Matt Gies, a biologist at the Shedd Aquarium who helps band the eyases; Platon, after a character in “War and Peace” known as “little hawk;” and Humphrey, after Humphrey Bogart, who starred in the movie “The Maltese Falcon.”
Last year, the library staff compiled a list of potential names for the eyases and the public voted for their favorite names on a ballot in the library.
This year, Paul Gottschalk, manager of library administrative services, compiled a list of potential names for the birds using leftover names from previous years. Library director Karen Danczak Lyons then chose the name for each falcon after his or her sex had been determined.
Whether the baby falcons are male or female is really a guess based on their size, Mr. Gottschalk said. In 2008, a falcon named Mistress Hussey was later found to be male.
The female was named Shae, which means “hawklike” and is the name of a character in the television show “Game of Thrones.”
The mother of the falcons this year, Nona, has been nesting at the EPL for nine years, said Ms. Danczak Lyons. The father, Squawker, has nested at the EPL for eight years. On May 9, it was confirmed that four baby falcons had hatched.
Scientists from the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium helped retrieve the eyases from the roof. When the ladder was set up against the ledge where the falcons were nesting, one of the parent falcons screeched as it flew by the window multiple times.
Mr. Gies wore a helmet for protection as he stepped outside the window to help retrieve the eyases.
Dr. Barbara Royal, Mr. Gies’ wife and a veterinarian who helped test the little falcons, said he wore the helmet because birds had flown at his head in the past.
The crowd fell silent as the eyases were placed in a cardboard box next to a towel-covered table with tools for measuring the wings and drawing blood.
Dr. Royal walked around with the opened box of four squawking eyases so people could see them. Meanwhile Mr. Gies and Mary Hennen from the Chicago Peregrine Program at the Field Museum, prepared the table for the birds. Ms. Hennen asked what people thought the names of the eyases might be, and joked with the children, who guessed names such as “Flower” and “Marshmallow.”
Ms. Hennen said she could tell by a bulge of skin on the first eyas out of the box that he had just eaten.
Gies, the first falcon to be named, was placed on the table and laid on his back. Mr. Gies, for whom he was named, held down its legs as Ms. Hennen banded the bird by placing one band on one leg, and two on the other. Both bands are unique to the individual, Ms. Hennen said, and will be used to track the birds.
Dr. Royal then measured the bird’s wings and drew blood to obtain DNA information and to keep track of it and its offspring. As the eyases squawked, Dr. Royal said this work helps keep the Peregrine population from becoming extinct and also helps the ecosystem.
This process of laying the bird on the table, banding, measuring, drawing blood and announcing the sex and name was repeated for each eyas. Each bird fell silent when a towel was laid gently over the upper half of its body, but most resumed squawking loudly just moments later.
Ms. Hennen said the majority of the falcons do not live past one year, but some falcons have gone on to make nests of their own. Deborah, who was born in the EPL nest in 2009, was found breeding in Wisconsin. Neal, a falcon born in 2008, was breeding at St. Mary’s Hospital in Chicago.
After the eyases were placed back in the nest, Ms. Hennen determined that they had been feeding on other birds including redwing black birds, blue jays and pigeons.
A first-time viewer of the banding, Helen Coleman, had previously watched the eyases on the Library’s FalconCam, installed in 2005.
“I think it’s extraordinary that they are in the middle of a populated town like this,” Ms. Coleman said, adding that she will “absolutely” come to see the banding again next year.
Ms. Hennen said they could do this work quietly, but banding the falcons at the Library helps educate the public. “[It is] a way to integrate the public into wildlife here,” Ms. Hennen said.