Peregrines in Flight School

Peregrines in Flight School

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Jed Boal ReportingOne of Salt Lake City's most daring families is wrapping up a wild week of thrills and spills and preparing to take off for new adventures. The family of Peregrine Falcons has been conducting flight school, a dangerous proposition downtown.

This is the first time in eight years there have been flight lessons on Temple Square. In fact, the young birds and their parents seem to favor the temple as their training ground.

Bob Walters has spent the past week peering at Peregrines perched on the Temple. The Watchable Wildlife Coordinator for the DWR says mom and dad have taught the fledgling brother and sister how to soar and hunt for food. But it's a dicey time.

Bob Walters: “It's gone really well. They're in the air, and hopefully we don't have to be here to worry about those crashes and homicides by motor vehicle anyway."

One of the greatest risks is all of the windows on downtown buildings. Despite their extraordinary eyesight, they have a tendency to fly right into the glass.

Bob Walters: “Everything in past years has gone wrong, including birds that have hit the glass so hard they broke bones."

Both young birds have bounced off buildings in this unforgiving environment; the female even made a trip to the vet. There are signs to alert motorists and two-dozen volunteers have helped with Peregrine Falcon flight patrol.

The young female spent the afternoon preening in the shade; her parents and brother flew off when we arrived.

After an eight year absence, Walters hopes the falcons find their way back to Salt Lake to nest again next spring.

Bob Walters: “Here we are with two flying birds. Hopefully they're going to keep pushing that limit, and get to be the flyers their parent are and go off and start they're own families."

The best time to watch the birds is dawn and dusk. Look towards the temple and other buildings in the area. Binoculars make a big difference. The entire family will take off in the next few weeks.

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