The three peregrine falcons born around Mother’s Day atop our headquarters building in Allentown made their public debut Thursday (5/31) when they were banded by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The fuss over the fuzzy young falcons, known as eyasses, is well deserved. This year was the first time in a decade that a pair of peregrines nested on the top of our iconic 23-story headquarters.
A duo set up house in a nesting box atop our tower building in 2007 and 2008, with no hatchlings in 2007, but four in 2008. Those young birds also were banded for potential future tracking and study. After that, peregrines nested at other locations in Allentown.
Onlookers Thursday for the banding included a group of third-graders from Cleveland Elementary School, located near PPL. Others included representatives of Hawk Mountain, Wildlands Conservancy, the Allentown Environmental Advisory Council, Audubon Society and the Game Commission.
The commission collected the three young falcons — two females and a male — from the nesting box and brought them down to the auditorium for banding and a health check. Four eggs were laid in the nesting box, but one didn’t hatch. The game commission will take that egg for further study.
“Being able to share this experience with the school children and the public is an incredible teaching moment,” said Jeff Luzenski, a senior environmental professional with PPL Electric Utilities. “We’re able to share our passion about the environment.”
In Pennsylvania, peregrines are listed as endangered and are protected under the Game and Wildlife Code. They were removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 1999. Peregrine falcons were nearly wiped out in eastern United States by the early 1960s, primarily due to the pesticide DDT.
We’ve had a long-standing involvement with efforts to restore the peregrine falcon population in Pennsylvania. In 1995, our company began its support of the Lehigh Valley Peregrine Project to release young peregrine falcons from the top its headquarters building in the hope that the falcons would come back to the area.
PPL further supported the restoration efforts by installing nesting boxes at several power plants throughout its Pennsylvania service territory. Several of these were quickly occupied and continue to produce young falcons to this day. PPL no longer owns power plants in Pennsylvania.
An adult peregrine can reach a speed of more than 200 miles per hour in a vertical dive and averages about 60 miles per hour in level flight. Peregrine falcons feed on other birds, usually by striking them in flight. Their prey includes pigeons, blue jays, and other mid-sized song birds.