Peregrines Peregrines Peregrines!

I love this shot. In the lower right hand corner is the female in the nest box at the Colonnade on hwy 394 & hwy 100. In the upper left hand corner, you can see the Minneapolis skyline. The tall building on the left is the Multifoods tower where another pair nests. You know the birds at the Colonnade can see that, and want that nest box.

It's practically been non stop peregrine for me for the last two or three days. I went to the Colonnade for the banding of the chicks and this time was a different for me, the banding happened indoors (it was too hot to have it outside--yes out of state readers, it does get too hot in Minnesota). They had the banding on the 15th floor, and we went in the room where the nest box is located. We got great views of the chicks. The best part being that I got some Sweet video of the banders being buzzed when they come down to get the chicks. You see them in the well with hard hats and then you see this big dark thing sweet behind them.

I was a tad bummed, no real interesting leftovers in the boxes to examine. While the chicks were indoors being banded, the male flew into the next box with a freshly killed killdeer. The chicks weren't there and the female was angry so he flew away with it--presumably to eat the killdeer since no chicks were around to eat it. Nests in the metro area are doing VERY well. Many nests having four eggs and all four eggs hatched. That means peregrines are finding lots of good birds to eat.

Last night I went to the Space Tower on the Fair Grounds and again the nest was a bust. Someone in that pair is shooting blanks. The first year there were just eggs (I don't know if they were fertile or not). The next year nothing. The third year, the birds put on quite a show of mating and hanging out and when the banders ascended, defended the nest valiantly--however, no eggs, not even a scrape. Last year, there were fertile eggs, but they weren't incubated. This year--three eggs. I don't know if they are fertile. Jackie Fallon, the woman in charge of the banding will go back in a month just to make sure the eggs aren't just a late clutch but my personal theory based on the last five years is that they will not hatch. But, Jackie wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't give the eggs the benefit of the doubt. I hope I'm wrong.

Meanwhile, there has been LOTS of news from the St. Cloud Times about a certain female peregrine at the Sartell Bridge. In the first story, it tells of a man attacked by the female on the nest box. On a funny note, if you look at that link, the bird pictured with the story is a young Cooper's hawk, not a peregrine. Birders were talking about the story--both about the buzzing female (who wants to go to Sartell and get buzzed by a peregrine?) and the misidentified bird hawk.

Then, a second story came out--this time with a peregrine photo from The Raptor Center--whew. This story said that the bird was going to be removed. It's no secret among the banders that this female will aggressively defend the nest and there have been about 4 known "encounters" by the public with this bird. For whatever reason, after the attack on Sunday, it sounded like what was safest for this female was to remove her, keep her in captivity so she wouldn’t return and potentially hit more people. Captivity may seem a bit much for some readers, but trust me, in a situation like this, that could be the only chance for the bird's survival. You never know if someone will decide to settle the matter with a gun. What was interesting was that I did get a few emails from people who went to the bridge and didn't get attacked by the female (and they sounded a little disappointed).

Well, now a third update has come out. The bird will not be removed. Now, I wonder if more people will go out for the chance to be buzzed? I would advise against this, the female doesn't need to waste extra energy for someone looking for a cheap thrill. Plus, it is near traffic and though peregrines are better at fast sharps and turns than Cooper's hawks, anything can happen. Here are some helpful tips for people who must cross the bridge with the peregrines:

* Do not provoke the falcon if you see it while crossing the bridge.

* If a falcon is heading toward you, try waving your arms to distract it. Yelling at it will not help.

* If it attacks, run toward the nearest end of the bridge.

Sources: Dr. Patrick Redig, director of the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, and Sartell Police Chief Jim Hughes.

Of course, I always recommend ducking too. Alright, I have to finish packing and drive to North Dakota. Woot!