LOWELL -- Four baby peregrine falcons got a rude awakening Monday morning as humans showed up on their doorstep on the top of Fox Hall at UMass Lowell.

The surprise entrance from humans upset the mother and four chicks, who have been left alone for three weeks since birth. The mother screeched at the top of her lungs and even came close to the heads of the humans gathering on the top of the dormitory.

However, the chicks will be thanking the humans later as they placed identification bands around their legs, which are needed to keep tabs on the young falcons as they mature and take flight, establishing their own territories elsewhere, according to Tom French, a biologist from the state's Division of Fisheries & Wildlife.

Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, from left, Bob Desrosiers, Erik Amati and Thomas French, band a falcon chick that is living atop UMass
Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, from left, Bob Desrosiers, Erik Amati and Thomas French, band a falcon chick that is living atop UMass Lowell's Fox Hall Monday morning. Sun Photo Bob Whitaker.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

"These are the perfect age to band. When they get older they get really feisty," said French, holding a screaming chick on Monday.

"It's really important when working with birds or any animal that we're trying to help recover is to track the life span of that bird and figure out how far does it go, how long has it lived, how well does it reproduce," he added. "And if there are any problems with any of those things, then we can look back on that bird's history and see if there's some common denominator that has caused the problem."

French and his team gathered the four chicks and brought them inside Fox Hall, so French could check on the baby falcons' health, determine their gender and put the bands around their legs.


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He determined that there are three females and one male in the nest.

All precautions were taken to make sure the chicks and their mom were unharmed during the banding process.

To watch the live video stream from atop Fox Hall, visit www.uml.edu/hawkwatch.

For more on this story, read Tuesday's edition of The Sun and visit www.lowellsun.com.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.