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Falcon chicks hatch at north Japan elementary school with eagle motif

A common kestrel chick is seen in this photo taken on June 1, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Takahata Elementary School)
A sculpture of an eagle is seen at the front gate of Takahata Elementary School, in Takahata, Yamagata Prefecture, on July 6, 2021. (Mainichi/Kenji Noro)

TAKAHATA, Yamagata -- Students at a municipal elementary school here are keeping a watchful eye on two kestrel chicks that recently hatched at the school, where falcons have reportedly been nesting for over three decades.

    Common kestrels, a type of falcon, are the size of doves, and have round eyes. They usually make their nests on steep cliffs in the wild, but in recent years it has been confirmed that the birds have been nesting in urban areas.

    According to the principal of Takahata Elementary School in Takahata, Yamagata Prefecture, the current school building was completed in 1979. Pairs of common kestrels have been coming to nest at the school since around 1985, and they start nesting around April every year, local reports say.

    This year, a pair made a nest in a crack next to a gutter under the eaves of the school building's third floor. In May, students confirmed from a nearby classroom that the chicks had hatched.

    The school's song made in 1953 includes the lyrics, "We young eagles / soar lively," its emblem's motif is an eagle, and its slogan is: "Strong, sharp and relaxed, we fly like young eagles." Common kestrels, like eagles, are birds of prey.

    "The connection with the wild birds that match our 'young eagles' and come back to our school every year, is a mysterious one," the principal said. I want our students to soar like the common kestrels."

    (Japanese original by Kenji Noro, Regional News Department)

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