Today, Mary and I went to the London Insurance building to scout the river bird’s digs! After watching them from across the way for quite awhile on Sunday, I felt quite eager to see what this “ledge” looked like. Mark, Sean and I couldn’t come to a concensus regarding the shape of the whole thing.
We met Marty, the building engineer, in the lobby of the building, which was stunning by the by. We arrived on our floor and I noted, with some relief, that it was completely unoccupied. It’s harder for me to concentrate when I know I’m making a grand spectacle of myself in front of an office full of workers.
The nesting area turned out to be a small balcony of about 2 feet in width. We accessed the balcony via a large window. Mary went out first, flushing one of the adults off the nest. Rusty colored eggs rolled slowly across the debris-strewn floor. The adult screeched warning and made several passes as Mary eased back towards the wall.
“She’s a feisty one,” Marty said, grinning. “The other one should be showing up any minute.”
I kept an eye on the sky as Mary leaned out to take a good look at the nest site.
I waited a moment for the adult to calm. It disappeared from view as it landed in a huge urn-type decoration located to the west and slightly above the nest. I slowly lowered the camera and snapped some shots of the eggs before turning the lens back up in its general direction. Peering through the eyepiece, I saw the adult pop its head over the rim of the urn and glare down at me.
“I’m watching for the other one,” Mary assured me.
I eased out a bit more and the adult hopped up to the rim of the urn, her body coming into full view. I could tell it wasn’t happy with me, so I stopped moving while I snapped a few photos. Its beak opened and it emitted a shrill warning as it stared at me, the intruder. Hop, hop, hop – and it was in the air again, swooping down towards me before wheeling away for another pass.
“I didn’t get the bands,” I told my companions. “I’ll come in and wait for it to calm down before I give it one more try.”
“Ok. Sky is clear. Let’s give it one more try and then leave the nest be.” Mary said.
I sat back on the window sill and waited. A few minutes later, the adult land, positioning itself directly between me and the eggs. I could see the bands clearly and focussed down to catch a few shots. Mary popped her head out behind me, holding her binoculars up to her eyes.
“V over 5?” I said and Mary hummed an agreement.
“Welcome to Chicago!” I said to the magnificent bird as I crawled back in through the window.
Ten minutes later, we bid farewell to Marty, promising to come back to take a look when the chicks hatched. Nice guy! In the car on the way back to the museum, I reviewed the pictures and found several very clear band numbers. Black over green, “V” over “S”, not 5. Aw well.
Mary dropped me off at the main entrance of the museum before getting on the road towards home.
“Well, looks like you’ll get to look the band information up before me again!” she said.
“Do you want me to call you?” I asked.
“No, I’ll wait until tomorrow. But I will bet you five dollars, its a female from Wisconsin.”
“Jeez, wouldn’t THAT be a sucker bet. No thanks!”
As it turns out, V/S is a female. She was born in 2003 on the Interco building in Clayton, Missouri. Dang, should have taken that bet! Her banders didn’t give her a name, but I think V will do nicely. So:
Welcome to Chicago, V!