Unlike the peregrine falcons she was preparing to meet, Inquirer staff photographer Jessica Griffin had to take a cramped, musty elevator up to their nest on the 15th floor of City Hall’s tower.
She was there to photograph a yearly ritual: Pennsylvania Game Commission workers banding falcon nestlings in order to track the once-endangered species’s population.
As the team attached two bands and checked the baby falcon’s health, Griffin captured an unusual sight: two workers using brooms to keep the adult birds from getting too close.
“They reacted like a mother bird, father bird would, protecting their nest,” she said.
Griffin’s story continues below the gallery, featuring more pictures from the past week as seen through the lens of our staff photojournalists:
“Someone said watch out for their claws and your hair,” Griffin said. “ The workers, wearing hard hats, weren’t hitting the birds but merely keeping them at a distance during the 20-minute process. There weren’t enough hard hats to go around, so Griffin just put her hood up.
One 18 day-old nestling and three unhatched eggs were in the nest. F. Arthur McMorris, the commission’s peregrine falcon coordinator, noted the unhatched eggs were probably the result of the female’s declining fertility due to age (she is 13 years old).
The birds didn’t give her any problems, and fortunately she isn’t afraid of heights. Griffin has also photographed Center City window washers, even emerging once from a hatch high atop One Liberty Place.
“I like heights, I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s always a different view.”
Earlier this year, she rode the same elevator to the top of City Hall’s tower to photograph its iconic clocks being turned forward at the start of daylight saving time. Both times, she was awed by the architecturally impressive tower and found it surprisingly peaceful.
“[The falcons’] experience up there is quieter than you would expect at such a busy intersection of the city,” Griffin said. “You felt like you could experience what it would be like to live there as a bird.”