Uptown Banding and St. Michael’s Check

Zoom and GGThe Uptown banding day excites all of us a great deal because we gain entrance to one of Chicago’s hidden treasures – The Uptown Theater.

(Most info from Wikipedia) The Uptown Theater is a massive movie palace in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. It was constructed in 1925 for the Balaban and Katz theater chain by architects Rapp and Rapp.

The theater is immense – in fact it is the largest in Chicago! It seats 4,381 people and its interior size (volume) is said to be larger than any other movie palace in the United States, including Radio City Music Hall in New York. It occupies over 46,000 square feet (4,300 m²) of land at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Broadway in Chicago’s Uptown Square Entertainment District. The mammoth theater has an ornate five story entrance lobby with an eight story façade.

Theater EntranceSadly, the Uptown closed in 1981 and since has been cared for by a few dedicated folks. There is also a very large group – Friends of the Uptown – which seeks to elicit support for restoring the venue to its position as an entertainment and economic asset for the neighborhood, city and region. As of yet, no one person or organization has been able to put together the large amount of money required to begin rehabilitation efforts to restore and reopen this historic landmark, which is, I just have to say, a damned shame.

Why? Because. If you are one of the lucky, lucky few that get to go into the Uptown Theater, after about five minutes the magic of the place starts working its mojo and you fall in love. Every year, the harsh climate of Chicago takes its toll on the poor old building and, so, every year we get just a bit closer to losing it. I cannot stress how tremendously tragic it would be to lose this building.

Ahhhh, now what does this have to do with peregrines? Well, a pair has called the fire escapes at the back of the building home since 2001, thats what! And, of course, this year was no different. Zoom (the adult female) and GG (the adult male) produced another fine group of chicks and today, they were on the schedule for banding!

An Uptown ChickWe were met by the Uptown’s peregrine monitor, Kanae, and the Uptown’s caretaker, Dave. After exchanging pleasantries, Kanae told us that we should come around back and take a look up before banding. So, we all trooped after her. If you look at the picture on the left, this is what we immediately saw when we rounded the corner – yep, that’s a juvie that’s fledged, alrighty!

Seems all three chicks managed to become flight-worthy JUST before banding time. So, Mary made the only decision she could – no bands. With the chicks mobile, we’d take a huge risk of scaring them into the sky and since they are just learning how to do this flying thing, this would be a potentially fatal move for them. Just not worth it. So!

With the Uptown banding off the plate, Mary decided to take Isabel and I down to St. Michael’s church to do a check on the pair there. As I’ve mentioned somewhere here before, Dawn, St. Michael’s monitor, has been reporting that Ballistic (adult female) and Hops (adult male) are STILL sitting on eggs, while most of the other falcon babies of Chicago are getting ready to fledge!

LecturerA few weeks ago, Dawn gave me some egg shell remnants she found beneath the nest. That sort of confirmed Mary and my theory that Ballistic and Hops had laid a clutch, but for some reason those eggs failed. So, this is a renest. Now, whether this one will fail or not is still in question, so we went down to see what we could see.

The airspace above St. Michael’s was quiet. The huge Saint Michael statue that adorns the front of the church looked almost naked without a peregrine falcon perched atop its head! So, Mary, Isabel and I settled in. We spent a good long time outside, waiting, watching and listening for peregrine activity, but nothing! We did, however, finally manage to find the honorary brick in the sidewalk that paid respects to St. Michael’s first peregrine female, Sadie. If I have it correct, Dawn bought that for her after Sadie died. We took pictures with the brick and then returned to contemplation of the nest site. Had the adults finally abandoned the nest for the season? Did the second round of eggs fail?

Since Isabel and I had never been in the church, we decided to contemplate all of this while getting a look. Wow. What a church! I would highly recommend going into this place to get a gander. Beautiful stained glass, a huge golden dome and a cavernous interior make this one of the more beautiful churches I’ve seen in Chicago.

As the three of us stood near the back studying the stained glass ode to the Saints, I heard a faint squawk. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Isabel cock her head to the right. I stopped Mary mid-sentence (she was explaining one of the saints to us), “Did you guys hear that?”

“No,” Mary said. “But, then, I was chattering along.”

“I heard it.” Isabel said.

Nest SwitchWe opened the doors and there, on top of Saint Michael’s head, perched a peregrine adult!

“Now Saint Michael looks right!” I said.

We watched as the peregrine chirruped a few times and another peregrine adult poked it’s head out from behind Saint Michael’s feet. A nest exchange followed as the adult who had been sitting on the eggs (as far as we know) got some air time, while the other adult took over brooding duty. So, if the eggs weren’t still viable, the parents probably wouldn’t be sitting on them still – there may be St. Michael’s babies this year afterall!

So, that’s news from the peregrine world. Still no babies out on the jail ledge, but lots of noise from inside the nest. Soon!


~ by Steph on June 11, 2008.

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