Two peregrine falcon chicks are with their parents again after being found inside the United Airlines hangar at San Francisco International Airport.
The Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA facilitated the chicks’ homecoming after they spent a few weeks recovering at the nonprofit’s Wildlife Care Center. The chicks were sent to the facility in May when they were found on the floor of the hangar, unable to fly.
“Their parents had built a nest high up in the hangar, and the pre-fledgling chicks became stranded on the ground,” said Peninsula Humane Society’s Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox.
The baby birds were about a month old when they fell. PHS/SPCA wildlife staff treated one chick for a soft tissue injury, while the other did not have any serious injury from the fall.
When the chicks fully recovered, the PHS/SPCA created a plan with United Airlines and SFO staff to safely reconnect the falcon family in the hangar. This was a much harder task, Tarbox said, because the team needed to get the chicks close to their parents and nest without causing stress to the birds.
“The nest was located high up in the hangar, so with the babies safely secure in a kennel, we advanced closer to the nest by climbing up onto the hangar’s catwalk.” she said.
Tarbox added, “The falcon parents must have known we had their chicks since they were following our staff and screaming at them the entire time. Once we were in a safe area on the catwalk, we opened the kennel door and the chicks walked towards their parents. It was a very happy reunion!”
Tarbox shared that finding bird nests in airport hangars is not rare, especially among peregrine falcons, a species native to the Bay Area. Falcons pairs typically have 2-3 chicks a year.
“Thanks to the vigilance and concern from United Airlines and airport staff and our skilled wildlife rehabilitation team, these two peregrine falcon chicks are back where they belong: with their parents,” Tarbox said.