Let the 2008 Season Commence!

Is it time for another peregrine season already? Time flies!

Indeed, the courting season should be getting underway, so time to dust off the falcon journal, take stock of camera and scope supplies and ready myself for an exciting several months of falcon monitoring to come.

Last weekend, Sean and I made our first VERY chilly check-up on the MCC. I am happy to report that we saw two robustly healthy looking adult peregrines basking in the sunshine on the west facing MCC ledges! I have to suppose it is Hercules and Max, but of course cannot make that claim until I get confirmation on their leg band numbers. However, their size and markings lead me to believe the MCC couple has weathered what was a hard Chicago winter with barely a feather out of place.

Since I have little more to report than that one highly satisfying sighting of the MCC birds, I would like to report on some other sightings supplied mostly by a group of talented photographers on Flickr.

My cousin Ani turned me on to Flickr and Sean and I started using it as a repository for our growing digital photo collection in June of 2005. One day, I did a search for “peregrine falcon” on Flickr. I found thousands of pictures from all over the world. Among those thousands of pictures, I found a few from Chicago and a golden number with leg band numbers clearly readable. Of course, I reported the pictures to Mary Hennen immediately and we spent our next few weeks of breaks at work searching Flickr.

At some point, it occurred to me that I should start a group on Flickr where people could submit their peregrine falcon photos. I decided to create one and restrict submissions to states and provinces included in the Midwest Peregrine Database, with hopes that over time, I could actually collect a few data points for Mary – thus Midwest Peregrine Falcons was born.

Initially, I stocked it with about 20 of my photos and invited a number of people that I’d found in my searches to submit their photos. Because the group was SO specialized, I did not expect it to grow quickly. For the first months, we only had three members.

Today, we have 27 members and over 200 photos from all over the Midwestern United States and Canada. A number of those pictures have clearly readable leg bands. The photographers who routinely submit pictures are not only VERY good photographers, but also very diligent. They have learned where to find their area’s peregrines and monitored them very well. The information we’ve gotten from these pictures, locations and descriptions of sightings has been invaluable and I am beyond tickled.

In honor of the Midwestern Peregrine Falcon photogs, I’d like to showcase the information we’ve amassed thanks to this amazing group of people. I can’t wait to see where this will all go in the future. When you click on the links to see the photos, DO spend some time cruising the other photos these people have taken. Many of these folks are accomplished nature photographers who have produced some of the most stunning photos I’ve ever seen.

Chicago Area:

mg2green and Kala1111 submitted some of the first photos to the group – beautiful pictures with highly readable bands! The photos were of a female named Riva (b/r, B/*H), taken at North Pond in Chicago on 2/25/07. Riva was a 1995 chick from the Broadway nest and was probably just passing through, as she wasn’t seen again during the breeding season. Both guys also got some amazing pictures of Riva feasting on a bird atop the frozen surface of the pond. Over time, they’ve submitted a number of other photos, most recently of a juvenile hanging out by the lake.

Happy Peasant was also an early poster. Since his first submission in February of 2007 – a wonderful series of a peregrine feeding on a pigeon while perched on a huge ice burg at a beach in Roger’s Park – HP has sent the group over 30 pictures! He’s spent a great deal of time monitoring areas that he’s seen activity and provided us with a number of leads. Most recently, he took a beautiful set of photos of an adult bathing in the surf of Lake Michigan. With his permission, his bathing behavior pictures have been featured in the gallery of the Encyclopedia of Life: Peregrine Falcon (incidently, Mary wrote the text for that page).

gnevets88 gave us photographic evidence that peregrines were still alive and well in Hyde Park. The Hyde Park nest had been unoccupied for a year or two. In November of 2006, we got a photo of Hyde Park male S/T feeding on a bird. In 2007, I confirmed that the old female was still around as well, although we have yet to find a nest!

In May of 2007, we were getting word from FermiLab in Batavia (outskirts of Chicago) that they had a pair hanging around out there. Very soon after, we got these wonderful pictures from wmgobuffs of the adult male. With very easy to read leg bands in the picture, we had proof that 2005 Broadway chick Joe was interested in the territory.

In November of 2007, we received a picture from webcat taken from the window of his Wacker Drive office building, about 20th story, of an adult peregrine perched on the corner of Mather Tower on Michigan and Wacker. This is an exciting one for the Chicago Peregrine Program because we have a lot of hope we’ll track the elusive “River Birds” this year and this gives us some idea of where to look. They’ve nested on Michigan Avenue and along the river for the past several years. We can’t always find them, so here’s hoping and thanks, webcat!

In March of 2008, rattlinantler posted some spectacular pictures of a peregrine which he’d seen perching at his job site in 2006. After an email exchange with him, I found out that a pair had been visiting that location for a couple of years and even laid two eggs in 2007. In one picture, the leg bands were completely clear. It is 2003 Broadway female Carrie. R. has promised to check back at the site and find out if Carrie and her mate are back again this year. Can’t wait to find out!!

We have more new places to look this year, thanks to cubbiebluerav4 caught a juvenile in flight over Palos Hills, Illinois in March of 2007 and bronson3, who snapped a picture of a cold and grumpy looking young peregrine getting out of the snow in February 2008 by perching on the windowsill of his Lincoln Park high rise.

Here are some pictures of known sights in Chicago: Our Evanston submitters, Kittenry and stubaker gave us some nice shots from the 2007 season. The Uptown Theater birds got three new fan club members – Flipped out, piano62 and snowin’ in Raton (who got an excellent set of the Uptown adults feeding each other). bintie gave us a look at UIC’s resident female Rosie brooding her 2007 eggs. aixelsyd2007 got a picture of Pilsen’s 2007 male fledgling Richard (b/g, B/41) after a rough flight and grounding (he was put back on top of the building and was fine).

Indiana:

It might be Indiana, but it’s still only 20 miles from home. This year, we’ll have another location to scout in East Chicago, Indiana. An employee of the Mittal Steel company, Hard Rain got some great photos of an adult perching on one of the buildings there. He and his co-workers have seen two peregrines hanging around. With his photographic skills, I have great confidence we will get an ID and more as we go into the breeding season!

A little father away, in Terre Haute, Indiana, we find jbsullivan, another early submitter. He sent pictures of a bird he saw in February of 2006, perched on Indiana State University’s Statesman Towers. In November of 2007, he got a stunning photo of a peregrine in a dive and the leg bands were legible. The bird was identified as Helga, (b/r, *E/*H), born in 1998 on a cliff in Lake County, Minnesota. Way to go, Jim!

Marty Jones sent in a gorgeous shot of a juvenile in flight that was also used on the Encyclopedia of Life website. As well, he gave us an unidentified adult sitting on the Indiana State University School of Business building in Terre Haute.

Indiana Stan caught a number of pictures of peregrines on the I&M Tower in Fort Wayne, Indiana iin 2006 and 2007. He’s keeping his eye on the area and we look forward to hearing any news of peregrine activity!

Finally, dhkaiser submitted a picture from October 2007 of a juvenile peregrine sitting in a tree in the Muscatatcuk NWR.

Iowa:

We got an oldie but a goodie from Mountain Path, who found a beautiful adult near Lansing in 2005.

Michigan:

Ross Sandelius submitted a nice view of a peregrine sitting on a church tower in Detroit, taken in 2008.

Minnesota:

From the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, we got photos from Rip it Marco’s close encounter with the Mayo Clinic’s fledgling Kamuzu (b/g, K/17) in 2006 and a long-view of the 2005 nest from Olivander.

eric500’s sent in a sepia-toned 2005 sighting along the Mississippi River. In 2006, prairie birder’s caught a fledgling fly-over on film. Finally, MB87 submitted pictures from the 2007 chick banding in Bayport.

Missouri:

randy oleson photog sent in some of the best flight pictures I’ve seen, which were taken in 2007 in St. Louis.

Nebraska:

In 2006, CarINE took some spectacular flight shots at the state capital, Lincoln. Another peregrine monitor, HunyBee67 posted some banding photos from her groups 2007 tour.

Ohio:

Third-i-Photo took this beautiful picture in 2006 of a pair in Columbus. Simply Jake gave us a good view of a 2007 adult in Cleveland. And finally, Garrick Field’s gets a wonderful picture along the Ohio River in 2007.

Ontario:

We got some nice submissions from other people involved in monitoring and banding peregrines – Jimmy-Jo’s 2004 pictures from Ottawa and aegolius’ also from Ottawa, but in 2006. From Toronto, chick magic and outdoors2magic snapped photos of some beautiful peregrines.

So, there you go! That’s our little photographic road trip. I’m so excited to see what will come in this year and REALLY anticipating following up some of these leads.

I’ll keep you posted!

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~ by Steph on March 10, 2008.