I was out at the Colonnade to check out the peregrine falcons that nest on that building. I had a KARE 11 segment this week and when I drove by the tall building, I could make one of the birds perched on the nest box ledge. When I returned with my digiscoping equipment that male visible. This is a nesting territory that I've blogged about before and some very interesting prey items have been found in their nest box.
As I watched him for a bit, I wondered if he had a female laying eggs or incubating. Then he kept looking up and soon began to vocalize. When I volunteered at The Raptor Center and we would be outdoors with the education birds, we learned that if they looked up, you should look up, they saw an aerial raptor--sometimes it would be a mere pepper speck to me. I tried to follow the male's gaze skyward but could not see any other raptors flying over.
Then I saw her. A big female circling...and then I saw a second one (who was too fast for a photo). An aerial battle between two females was underway. Look at those distinct pointed wing tips that separates a falcon from a red-tailed hawk! In raptors, females are larger than the males (especially with peregrine falcons) and the females will engage in bloody battles to the death for prime territory. There's an infamous story from the Colonnade in the 1990s of 2 females who battle for over 2 and a half hours for the nest box--one losing an eye and eventually her life. Excited at my discovery of an aerial battle, I texted my buddy Mark Martell who has been involved with banding the birds at this building. He immediately replied, "I can just see you out there shouting, 'Chick fight!'"
He wasn't too far off in his guess. The best part of it was as the females circled the building and chased each other, the male remained at his perch screaming...perhaps he too was calling, "Chick fight...over MEEEEEEEEEEE!"
Actually, he did something kind of interesting. As the females duked it out in the air, he hunched over, fluffed his feathers and appeared to flash his cloaca. I wondered if this was some sort of display of encouragement to his mate or he was just flashing the goods to the females, "Yes, ladies, this is what I have to offer the winner of this display!"
The battle was probably more about the territory than the male.
It wasn't a very serious battle and it soon ended. The other female was chased off and the remaining female circled the building and flew to the ledge where the next box it tucked away. Mark said that the people who monitor the falcons from inside the Colonnade report there is one egg in the nest.
After all settled down, the male continued his watch of their skies from a nearby ledge. Then he walked towards his reflection on the windows. If one were to attribute human emotions to this bird, he could be thinking, "Yeah, boy, you are the total package. They wanted you, my man."
But who knows what drew this bird to the window.
If you want to watch the peregrines at the Colonnade there is a small parking lot to the northeast of the building--just to the east of the parking garage for the Colonnade. You could also try driving to the top of the Colonnade's parking garage and watching from a scope there but I'm not sure how the building's security team feels about that. The Colonnade is on the northeast corner of hwy 394 and the Xenia Ave & Park Place exit on the west side of Minneapolis.
If you know what to look for, you can usually make out one of the adults perched on the ledges of the building. But to see the falcons well, you will need to have a scope or at the very least some binoculars to get a better look.