Bob Downing


Chesapeake was furious.



She screeched and swooped through the skies in downtown Akron to defend her nest and two chicks. She was ultra determined and in full-frenzied attack mode.



The peregrine falcon aggressively went after staffers Laurie Graber and Bryan Kay of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources when they tried to take the chicks from a nesting box on an 11th-floor ledge of the Landmark Building near the Civic Theatre.



They used a hard plastic shield and wore thick work gloves to ward off Chesapeake and her mate, McKinley.



Chesapeake repeatedly tried to go through a partially open glass window. She managed to draw blood with her talons. Kay suffered a slight cut on his right forearm. “It’s just a scratch,” he said.



He is not the first wildlife officer to suffer from Chesapeake’s wrath in her 14 years in Akron.



Chesapeake and McKinley finally calmed down after the two chicks, with new leg bands, were returned to the nesting box.



“It was a pretty good battle,” Graber said of Chesapeake’s maternal instincts. “She is very feisty and mean.”



The biggest fear was that the adult birds would accidentally push the chicks off the ledge in their crazed efforts to protect them, she said.



The 18-day-old chicks, both males, got matching leg bands: federal on one leg and black-over-red state identification bands on the other leg.



The two fuzzy birds continuously bleated and squawked while being held by Kay. “Honestly, I’m not squeezing them,” he said.



They also got names: Speedy and Wingbeat.



The names came from Maddox Graham, 10, and his sister, Zoe, 9.



The Akron children were impressed by the chance to see the falcon chicks up close and to see Chesapeake’s rage.



“It’s so cool,” Zoe said of seeing the falcon family. “Chesapeake is very protective. And I like that.”



The young birds, both puffballs of white feathers, were “very cute,” she said.



The falcons are “beautiful birds … even if Chesapeake has a crazy personality,” her brother said.



One egg laid in the Akron nest failed to hatch, Graber said.



Chesapeake has been in Akron since 2001. She came from Detroit. McKinley came from Canton in 2009.



Two nesting falcons in Canton produced four eggs, of which three hatched. They were banded last week.



Two adult falcons on the Ohio Turnpike Bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Boston Township failed on their first egg-laying effort. They are attempting to renest and could still lay eggs.



Those nests are among 14 in Northeast Ohio with eggs and chicks, Graber said.



There are 28 active nests this year, up one from last year, spokeswoman Jennifer Norris said.



Falcons first nested in Ohio in 1988.



The falcons were previously an endangered species. They were moved to the state’s less-critical threatened list in 2008 as their numbers grew. Wildlife agencies will review the falcons’ status again in 2015.



Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.