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Baby peregrine falcon banded under Ambassador Bridge

The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world — but even speed demons need a little help.

Healthy male chick weighed 705g, named "Hermes"

A baby falcon named "Hermes" was weighed during a banding event Wednesday under the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

If you live in Windsor, you know that it seems like there's always construction work happening under the Ambassador Bridge.

A familiar scene of people in hard hats and reflective vests were working under the bridge on University Avenue Wednesday — but it wasn't to make repairs.

It was to retrieve a baby peregrine falcon.

Mark Nash from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation holds a broom to distract the mother falcon en route to capture her baby for a check-up and banding session. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Nearly every year around this time, the Canadian Peregrine Foundation swoops in to conduct a check-up on the newest members of the peregrine falcon family.

A group of birders and interested passersby gathered just to the west of the bridge to watch the affair.

"[Peregrine falcons] are cliff dwellers naturally, and [the bridge] is a wonderful cliff for them," explained Marion Nash from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. "It has fewer predators being here in the urban setting, and lots of food source, because one of their favourites sources is, of course, pigeon."

Canadian Peregrine Foundation director Marion Nash watches as her husband Mark retrieves a baby falcon from under the Ambassador Bridge. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Nash explained that it is important to monitor the status of these birds due to the fact that the provincial population was, at one point, completely eliminated.

"We just about wiped them out due to the use of DDT — pesticides. It made it so they couldn't produce a hard enough egg shell to incubate," she said. "It was through captive release and breeding programs, human intervention and rescuing the young that have brought them back to a sustainable level now."

Continued monitoring of the species is important to understand the health of the environment, Nash said.

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The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world — but even speed demons need a little help. Jonathan Pinto told us about a group of people in Windsor volunteering hours and months of their time to keep them safe. 9:02
Canadian Peregrine Foundation director Mark Nash carries a baby falcon retrieved from a nest under the Ambassador Bridge. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Water was sprayed into the chick's mouth to help keep it calm. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Grade 8 student Summer Elsawi is one of the volunteer bird-watchers who will help monitor young Hermes over the next few months as it grows into an adult. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Banding allows scientists to tracking the status of the fast birds. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Blood samples from Hermes will be part of a study conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada to test for toxins in the environment. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Steve Atkins says he sometimes spends 18 hour days ensuring the young birds stay out of trouble. Sometimes, that involves stopping traffic on the Ambassador Bridge to move a bird out of harm's way. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.