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Peregrine falcon chicks take flight off Mutual of Omaha roof

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 19:54:17-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For the past several years, the Mutual of Omaha building in Midtown has been home to a peregrine falcon nest.

On Wednesday, two of the young falcon chicks made thier first successful flight off the roof.

"We have a great respect for animals and we're really excited these birds chose our building to be their home," said Jennifer Whitney, a communications coordinator at Mutual of Omaha.

The falcons' parents are Orozco and Sierra, who've reside at the Mutual of Omaha building full-time. This spring they had four chicks and a few weeks ago the chicks tried to make their first flight. One of the chicks was sucessful, but the other three had complications with their first try.

"Since they're on the cliff they're first flight is pretty major," said Denise Lewis, Director of Raptor Recovery at Fontenelle Forest. "They'll run into tall buildings, parking garages, traffic, all kinds of stuff."

Fortunatley for the chicks, they were found by Omaha-native Saul Lopez, a bird-lover who spotted them on his drive home from dinner.

"I have a passion for eagels, I really enjoy raptors," Lopez said. "When I saw there was a raptor type I wasn't sure where to begin with I didn't know how important it was to protect a peregrine falcon in this case. So I decided to go out and see if she needed help. She appeared to be injured and I got a towel and put it into a box and called the Humane Society."

For the last two and a half weeks the falcons been rehabilitating at in Elmwood with Fontelle Forest's Raptor experts.

"Before we release any bird we want to make sure that it can fly back and forth and that it can recognize food," Lewis said. "These guys passed the test."

On Wednesday two of the birds had a successful flight. While it's tough to let the birds leave their care, Lewis said watching the birds leave for the wild is one of the greatest joys of her profession.

"This is why we do it," Lewis said. "Last year we got 597 birds throughout the state. Whenever we release any bird whether it's an eagle or a falcon it's a celebration. That's where they belong."

A third chick wasn't yet ready to fly. The male baby falcon is named Fowler after "Wild Kingdom" host Jim Fowler. The the female bird hasn't been named yet.