published Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Peregrine falcons thrive atop Atlanta skyscraper

Children attend the Georgia Department of Natural Resources banding event for a peregrine falcon hatched on the 53rd floor balcony of an Atlanta skyscraper Thursday just after it was banded.
Children attend the Georgia Department of Natural Resources banding event for a peregrine falcon hatched on the 53rd floor balcony of an Atlanta skyscraper Thursday just after it was banded.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Far from the remote mountainous cliffs one would expect, wildlife activity is taking place in a downtown urban setting atop skyscrapers.

In a planter on the 53rd floor of the executive balcony of the McKenna Long & Aldridge law firm, a mating pair of peregrine falcons are raising a young chick just over three week old.

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division officials are taking this opportunity to band and document the new addition of this rare but growing trend.

"We have a pair of peregrine falcons that are nesting on a downtown skyscraper which we think is pretty exciting," said Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Jim Ozier. "It wasn't too long ago that peregrines had pretty-much disappeared from the eastern U.S. mainly because of DDT contamination we think."

Beginning in the late 1980's, peregrine falcons were reintroduced along the eastern seaboard in both natural and urban areas in an effort to rebuild their dwindling numbers. Surprisingly, the urban setting in Atlanta proved to be a sustainable environment.

Officials with the law firm these birds chose as their home are constantly amazed with their lofty neighbors.

"This is our second nesting pair who have been here and when you're here throughout the year you can see them feeding, you can see them hatching their babies and teaching them to fly and really see all aspects of their lives," said Todd Silliman, a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge. "But it really is a unique experience to be able to see that from a downtown office building."

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