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Peregrine banding draws a crowd

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Erika Kolbow (left) of Turtle River State Park and licensed bander and raptor expert Tim Driscoll of Grand Forks handle peregrine falcon chicks during Monday afternoon's banding event below the UND water tower. Kolbow and Driscoll banded the three chicks -- two males and one female -- and climbers then returned the young peregrines to their nest box atop the UND water tower. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald) 2 / 4
A peregrine falcon chick voices its displeasure Monday afternoon while being banded near the UND water tower. The chick and its two siblings were returned to the nest box high atop the tower after they were banded. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)3 / 4
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It was a falcon frenzy Monday afternoon as an estimated 150 people showed up to watch peregrine chicks being banded below the UND water tower.

Between the three chicks, who loudly voiced their displeasure at being removed from their nest box high atop the tower, and more than 60 kids from various Grand Forks YMCA programs who came to watch, this year's banding effort was even more boisterous than usual.

"They're just absolutely loving it—it's very exciting," Sam Olson, a counselor for the Y's Adventure Camp, said of the kids who watched the banding.

Peregrine parents Terminator and Marv weren't exactly quiet, either, as they circled above the throng until the banding was finished and the chicks were returned to the nest box.

As he's done every year since 2008, when peregrines first nested in Grand Forks, licensed bander and raptor expert Tim Driscoll banded the three chicks. Assisting him was Erika Kolbow, an interpreter at Turtle River State Park.

"I couldn't hear anything," Driscoll said. "We had to do sign language back and forth, but it's OK."

Seeing the peregrine chicks might spark one of the kids to be the next great scientist, nature writer, wildlife person, game warden or biology professor or conservationist, Driscoll said.

"Every one of (the kids) wanted to touch the birds, see the birds," he said.

Driscoll, who names the peregrine chicks because it's easier to remember a name than a band number, named this year's chicks Chan, for Chandler Robbins, an influential American ornithologist who died in March at age 98; Julie, in honor of Julie LeFever, longtime director of North Dakota's geological core library at UND who died in December; and Carl, after Carl Barrentine, an associate professor emeritus of humanities and integrated studies at UND.

This year's chicks were the 29th Driscoll has banded in Grand Forks. Terminator has hatched every chick, while this is Marv's third year as a local peregrine papa.

Scaling the 125-foot tower and contending with swooping peregrines to retrieve and return the chicks isn't for the faint of heart, and Rosa Grijalva of Grand Forks was among the trio climbing Monday.

Her dad, Jim, was a climber in 2008, the first year peregrines nested in Grand Forks, and he watched Monday as Rosa climbed the tower.

"It's more of a tradition—he let me do this," said Rosa, 18, a recent Central High School graduate. "It was really a cool experience. I hope I can do it again."

Grand Forks and Fargo have the only known nesting peregrines in North Dakota. Earlier Monday, Driscoll banded the first peregrine hatched in Crookston, a single male. A pair also is nesting this year in Moorhead, he said.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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