Rare native falcon hatches

WEE BLOB: The 10-day-old falcon chick at Zealandia sanctuary.
WEE BLOB: The 10-day-old falcon chick at Zealandia sanctuary.

They swooped, dived, clawed and even drew blood – but in the end a pair of adult falcons could only watch while their chick was banded.

The chick, thought to be male, became the first in Wellington to be banded yesterday – despite the aerial protestations of its parents.

The 10-day-old chick has hatched to a pair of native falcons nesting at the Zealandia sanctuary in Karori.

The sanctuary called in the assistance of Wingspan, a company that bands birds of prey, and yesterday research development manager Richard Seaton had the job of fixing an orange band around the chick's right leg.

"It's a tiny wee blob really, a grey chick that sits there chirping away."

Yet getting to the chick meant ignoring the efforts of its fiercely protective parents as they dive-bombed overhead.

"They were fighting and pretty aggressive around the nest. I've got a few scars on my head to show for my efforts. They hit you round the head with their claws."

Chicks do not start to fledge until they are 35 days old, so Mr Seaton was able to remove the bird from its nest, and weigh it.

At 200g it appeared healthy.

It was the only chick to hatch to the adult pair, who had one chick last year and four the year before.

Falcons found their way to the predator-proof sanctuary in 2009, and became the first pair to breed in Wellington since the 1970s.

The Dominion Post