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We once again turn our attention to Pfizer and Moderna.

You know, the fuzzy little falcons.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is again playing host to a pair of young peregrine falcon chicks nested atop the Gruenhagen Conference Center. In an operation overseen by UW Oshkosh’s Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT), the young birds were banded last week as part of a statewide program for tracking and monitoring peregrine falcons.

The mother of the recently hatched chicks is Julia, a familiar fowl around Gruenhagen. This is the sixth year she’s visited the Oshkosh nest. She was hatched at a site in Chicago in 2011. Gaylord, another falcon spending time at the nest this spring, is back for a fourth year and was born at UW-Milwaukee in 2016.

The names Pfizer and Moderna were selected by a University-wide poll and, of course, are the names of the two companies responsible for the first COVID-19 vaccines made available in the U.S. This Moderna is female, while Pfizer is male.

Greg Septon, an independent peregrine specialist and founder of the Wisconsin Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project, handles the banding and has worked on the project with the University for several years.

Moderna (left, female) and Pfizer (male) are the newest residents of the falcon nest atop the Gruenhagen Conference Center on the Oshkosh campus.

This marks the second year in a row the coronavirus pandemic influenced the names of the falcon chicks on campus. The duo banded in May 2020 were named Strength and Courage for the attributes so crucial to the UWO community at the time.

The chicks will likely stick around through the summer and into the fall.

Peregrine falcons are known as the fastest animals on Earth, capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph during a dive. They feed almost exclusively on birds they strike in midair and grasp with their talons. Blue jays and pigeons are among their favorite targets.

In February, after Strength and Courage had moved on to parts unknown, a falcon banded more than 100 miles away was spotted at the UWO nest. The female named Cream Puff is part of the recovery project too and came from We Energies’ Oak Creek Power Plant near the Lake Michigan shore south of Milwaukee. She’s since moved on.

This is the 11th year the Gruenhagen roof has been a purposeful home for peregrine falcons. A 24/7 livestream of the falcons in their nest is available on YouTube.

Falcon banding of Pfizer and Moderna. May 25, 2021--16.jpg

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