Missing falcon found dead on city rooftop

April 22, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Blythe -- the peregrine falcon missing from her perch outside the 33rd floor of the United States Fidelity and Guaranty building since about March 1 -- was found dead Monday on the roof of a city office building several blocks away.

Karl Rusk, an electrician at the Charles L. Benton Building at 417 E. Fayette St., found the dead falcon during a routine roof inspection, building manager Sonny Einolf said yesterday.

"When he came in this morning, he went up and brought it down in a plastic bag," Mr. Einolf said.

John Barber, a USF&G official and amateur ornithologist who has watched over the birds for several years, identified the falcon yesterday morning by the numbered band attached to Blythe's leg.

"She has been dead for some time, I'd estimate at least a month," Mr. Barber said. "She had no flight muscle left at all, and it looks as though whatever the primary cause of death was, she probably starved to death before she died, because she weighed almost nothing."

The falcon will be taken to the city zoo, where a veterinarian will perform an autopsy, Mr. Barber said. She was most likely injured or became ill, immobilizing her and ultimately causing her to starve.

Blythe had lived since 1985 at the USF&G building in downtown Baltimore, where she raised more than two dozen offspring with her mate, Beauregard. His first mate was Scarlett, who died of a throat injury in 1984.

Blythe, who was hatched a year earlier in a New Jersey nest, showed up within four days of Scarlett's death.

After Beauregard was sighted with a new mate last month, Mr. Barber said he suspected Blythe was dead because desertion of a mate is almost unheard-of among falcons.

Meanwhile, Beauregard has been busy courting his new mate, who is still unnamed, and Mr. Barber is optimistic there will be another nest of falcon eggs this year.

The peregrine population was wiped out by about 1960 in the East because of DDT poisoning. Since the pesticide was banned in 1972, falcons have slowly returned, and nearly 100 pairs nest east of the Mississippi River.

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