I'll never forget the first time I got to tag along to a peregrine nest with Bud and Mark Martell. Years ago when I was kid, reading my Wonder of Birds book or being sent articles by an uncle about reintroducing peregrine falcons in cities, I dreamed about what it would be like to be up on one of those buildings, watching a falcon nest.
When I started volunteering at the Raptor Center, my friend Amber and hoped to get out to the nests. We got to know Mark who went out banding with Bud and who managed to get us an invite. We were both nervous and excited. On the one hand we were going out to see a peregrine nests up close and learn about falcons. On the other, we were with one of the guys who not only worked with Dr. Pat Redig to reintroduce peregrine falcons in Minnesota, but was a past president of the American Ornithologists' Union and was a World War II Flying Ace. I just hoped I wouldn't come off as some Twinkie and not annoy either Mark or Bud too much. But we soon learned that with Bud, if you liked peregrine falcons, you were good company. We would listen to him recount the various histories of peregrine falcons not unlike the way one of my aunts would recount all the loves of Susan Lucci on All My Children. Even over the years, if one of us would find a banded peregrine and told Bud, he would ask if we could read the band number. If we could, he usually knew what nest it came from and when and where it was hatched.
The first time we went up into a building to a peregrine nest platform, it was a cloudy day in Minneapolis. Traffic was noisy and bustling on the street, but when we ascended the Multifoods Building and made it to the nesting corridor, it was silent except for the wind whipping through the screen. I remember walking down the dark corridor, feeling the wind and noticing pieces of pigeon wings, starling legs, grackle heads and other bird parts. With the wind blowing and the bird parts, it almost seemed like we were walking into some monster's lair. Bud spotted a peregrine perched on a building about two blocks away. As we aimed our binoculars, it dropped from its perch. Before I could get the sentence out, "Huh, I wonder where it went?" the falcon's dark form flashed right in front of us. We laughed at being startled and admired the bird's speed to defend its nest. I was so nervous that day, I foolishly didn't bring a camera. I'll never forget that day and it certainly is in my top five birding moments of all time.
Bud was kind and generous with his information. I've met so many people who would tell me of meeting a "nice old man who apparently knows a lot about peregrines." If you hung out at any of the nesting spots in the Twin Cities, the chances were good you might find him along side you watching the birds as well. No question was too stupid, he would answer them all and often ask bystanders about what they had seen, always wanting to know more about the falcon species he loved so much.
I'm just scratching the surface of all the wonderful avian projects Bud was involved in, I know others who knew him could add to it. He is going to be missed.