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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Texas Central Power and Light to the Rescue
Marta Curti — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration    ShareSince the inception of the Aplomado Falcon recovery project, The Peregrine Fund has worked with such past and current partners as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas Parks and Wildlife, American Electric Power (AEP) - Central Power and Light, and many private landowners, in order to raise and transport falcons, to build facilities, to
band birds, and to identify and utilize release sites. These strong and diverse partnerships have made up an integral part of the program itself and have contributed greatly to its success. Recently, an event occurred that demonstrates the commitment and concern that these outside agencies and individuals have for this endangered species and its recovery.

In the middle of the Aplomado Falcon nesting season, Buddy Finch and Homero Martinez, of AEP- Central Power and Light (CP&L), helped us band three chicks in a small nest located atop a powerpole just outside of Los Fresnos, Texas. While each nest and banding operation present their own unique challenges, this particular nest caused us several restless nights. Our uneasiness was due to two factors: the size of the nest and its location. First, because the nest was so small, we feared that as the chicks grew and began to move about and stretch their wings they could easily tumble out of the nest, where, if they survived the fall, they would be easy prey for ground predators. Secondly, the nest was located directly beneath what we believed was an active transformer, a definite hazard for young fledglings just learning to fly.

With help from Rudy Escamilla of the USFWS, Angel set about solving the first problem. He designed a wooden platform, cut into roughly the shape of a 1/4 moon, that could be secured 1'-2' beneath the nest, extending approximately 12" on each side of the nest. This would provide a "safety net" to catch chicks if they fell and to hold them in a place where the adults could still feed them. While we were confident the platform would work, we still had no way of securing it high enough on the pole for it to be effective, and we were still unsure as to what to do about the transformer.

When Angel called CP&L Service Supervisor Buddy Finch on May 30 and explained the situation to him, Buddy and Service Technicians Homero Martinez and Leo Garcia agreed to meet us that day for a quick lunch and a look at the nest. Though they had always showed a willingness to help us, we were pleasantly surprised when they agreed to meet us on such short notice. When we arrived at the site, a little after 1 p.m., the adult Aplomados were in the area. The female had just caught a small songbird, and we observed as she fed her young, carefully placing bits of food into their small, gaping beaks. After watching this scene for only a few minutes, Buddy and Homero immediately agreed to help us with the banding operation. However, due to tight schedules on everybody’s part, we had to band the chicks that day. Though the platform was only partially built, we all decided to meet back at the site one and one-half hours later. With USFWS employee Jenna Milliken in tow, Angel Montoya and I raced around town getting all of the materials we would need in order to complete construction of the platform and to band the chicks.

When we returned to the site, Buddy and Homero were quick to offer suggestions and assistance in finishing construction on the platform. Then, with the use of a CP&L bucket truck, the chicks were carefully brought down from the nest. As Angel and I began banding the young, Homero went back up in the bucket truck and installed the platform. Just over an hour later, the chicks were safely back in their nest, we received confirmation that the transformer was turned off, the platform was in place, and we were leaving the site. CP&L employees helped us complete, with ease, a job that would have been impossible to complete on our own. Thanks to them, three more wild hatchling Aplomados continue to do well and their chances of successfully fledging have increased tremendously.

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