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Wildlife experts band baby kestrels in Lackawanna County

A team of biologists is in Taylor this week to research some young falcons that are getting ready to leave the nest.

TAYLOR, Pa. — Five young kestrels were recently born near Taylor. Kestrels are the smallest species of falcons in North America, according to the Audubon Society.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission partners with the Alliance Landfill's wildlife team to put nesting boxes on the landfill's property. These birds are estimated to be less than a month old, and before they leave the nest, the Game Commission bands them to keep track of the kestrel population in our area.

"The only way we can know that is we can band the individuals, so we know if we're seeing the same ones over and over again or these are different individuals," said Richard Fritsky, a wildlife biologist with the Game Commission.

The kestrels are checked for sex and weight and are banded with a number to identify each bird.

The Game Commission invited area kids to come and watch the process so they can learn and get an up-close look at these young falcons.

"They're also endangered birds, they mentioned that, so keeping them safe and healthy is a lot better than not knowing how they are," said Gigi Ceruti.

"It was really cool seeing the birds and stuff and them drawing the blood," Amelia Lewis said.

"They need 1.5 CCs of blood to do three tests on it," Christian Englehardt said.

Members of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine are studying birds' health. They took blood samples to test them for various pesticides or other toxins in their systems.

"They accumulate in prey items, and even though they may be at a very low level in the prey, they biomagnify or bioaccumulate up through the food chain, and then the kestrel, which is at the top of its food chain, may get a toxic dose," Fritsky explained.

The Game Commission expects the kestrels to leave the nest in about a week.

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