My First Day on the Garage

Metropolitan Correctional CenterThe Metropolitan Correctional Center is located in downtown Chicago, as I said, about 2 blocks from our loft. It is an administrative facility designed to hold male and female federal prisoners of all security levels while they are awaiting or in trial. The building is triangular in shape, which causes an optical illusion that makes it appear about a foot thick from some angles, so that’s neat.

The MCC falcons, (or “The Jailbirds” or “The Prison Pair” as they are also called) picked one heck of a spot. They nest on the north side of the building, down inside the heating/cooling vent niches (I’ve made a notation on the larger version of the picture to the right).

Watching the MCC FalconsBecause of the inaccessibility of the niches, the MCC falcon babies cannot be banded unless they end up on the ground after their first flight. I am told this is relatively common – it’s called “grounding”. The site doesn’t lend itself to observation, either. Consequently, little is known about this pair or pairs that had nested in the prison niches in years past.

A 12-story garage stands across the street to the north of the MCC. Mary told me this was the ideal spot for viewing as it looks directly across to the nest site. Mary loaned me a 48x spotting scope and a tripod and this morning, for the first time, I set up shop on the SW corner of the garage top, right by a little stairwell building.

It didn’t take long for one of the adults to come out of the nest, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to head straight for me! It landed on the roof of the stairwell building about 3 feet above me but out of my sight-line. I backed up very slowly, up an incline to the north of it, in order to get a picture.

My God, what a beautiful bird! It watched me intently, but just as I got far enough up and back to see the legband and snap a picture, it took off and flew off to the east. For the next hour, I watched, transfixed, as the pair came in and out of the nest. When they left the area, they generally went to the southeast or east. The Wacker pair have the territory to the north and northwest. The UIC pair have the territory to the southwest and south.

At last, it was time to head to the museum. I wandered off down VanBuren, heading for the State Street bus stop. As I waited for the bus, I scanned the skies above the little 1/2 block city park area to my west. I spotted one of the birds cruising around above the park, probably hunting.

Excellent first day.

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~ by Steph on May 5, 2006.