6-week-old falcon rescued from fourth-floor roof Bird stranded on Hyatt Regency Hotel

June 22, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

One of the four young peregrine falcons hatched in May on the 33rd-floor "cliff" of the USF&G Building in downtown Baltimore was rescued yesterday from a much lower perch -- a rear, fourth-floor roof at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where it apparently became stranded after attempting a first flight.

The bird -- only 6 weeks old but already as large as an adult -- was spotted at the hotel by Karl E. Nelson, visiting Baltimore from Long Island, N.Y., with his wife, Patricia J. Brasley, who is attending an Arthritis Foundation Convention.

Mr. Nelson, who kept watch on the bird from his fourth-floor room over the course of several hours, said it appeared to be limping and unable to fly despite stretching to show a wingspan of 3 feet or more. He alerted the hotel management.

"He was perched there [Sunday], but seemed to be OK," said assistant manager Tony Ingoglia. "But Mr. Nelson seemed to be concerned that it was ill, that there was something wrong with the falcon."

Mr. Ingoglia contacted USF&G, whose ornithologist-employee John Barber donned protective garb to retrieve the young bird, carrying it through the hotel, across Pratt Street and up in the elevator back to its 33rd-floor birthplace.

Mr. Barber said all four of the young falcons have left the nest -- a dangerous time as they learn to fly a few floors at a time, lacking the wing strength to lift themselves 20 to 30 stories like their parents.

The stranded bird apparently was not fed for two days by the parents, because the hotel roof was lower than they usually like to go, Mr. Barber said. "It was a very hot and very hungry female baby falcon."

As he carried the "hollering" bird across Pratt Street, Mr. Barber said, "one parent took a pretty steep dive at me, turning up 10 feet above me. There's little you can do to get out of the way of a diving falcon when you're holding a baby falcon."

Once back home and fed, the baby again left the nest to try its wings. Mr. Barber said the falcons will be visible in flight training from McKeldin Plaza in the middle of Light Street in the coming days as their wings grow stronger and their soaring becomes more majestic.

By mid-July, the parents will reclaim the territory and drive their young away to find their own hunting grounds.

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