At 11am this morning, Mary, Matt and I went to meet with Deborah at the Loyola campus. We hoped to find the peregrines that have been frequenting the campus since 2007.
In 2008, I wrote a post about taking my mother up to scout the campus on a freezing cold, but sunny day, in May. We found a juvenile molting into adult plumage hanging out on the science building who had black over green bands, possibly with a “5” as the top number. We also found an adult that was unbanded. Although the two birds were hanging out in close association with one another, they never really interacted, so we couldn’t really determine whether they were nesting. We did see them close enough together, however, to note that the molting adult was smaller, so probably male. In 2009, two adults were spotted frequently. Deborah and a Loyola biology professor were able to get a really good look at one of the birds, the larger of the two (so probably female), and saw black over green bands with a very clear “5” on top and an unreadable bottom band. I got a couple of pictures of both adults hanging out together on the top of Mundelin. The big news came later in the season from Deborah, when she reported seeing the two copulate once in early March. We all kept watch on the campus, but a nesting site was never identified, nor were there any unbanded, immature peregrines flying around.
We met Deborah near Mundelin. After greetings and observations were exchanged, Mary decided that Matt and I should take off south and she and Deborah would take off north. In order to search a little better, Matt and I put about a two to three block space between us. After the first half hour of walking, I saw a Sandhill Crane battling the rather heavy wind gusts (a little late in the season for this bird), but hadn’t seen any signs of a peregrine. At the 40 minute mark, I decided to wander a block over to Broadway and start back north.
I actually spotted a large group of rather excited appearing pigeons before I spotted the the peregrine above Broadway and Devon. A lone adult was flying behind a flock of about 10 pigeons, running them in circles, I assume waiting for one to panic and break from the group. The peregrine must have become bored waiting for one to panic, because it suddenly climbed in altitude and dropped right down into the center of the group. I was pretty impressed to see the pigeons open up into a donut-shaped flock just as the peregrine drew near, causing the peregrine to drop right through the pigeonless center and appear out the other side sans prey. The pigeons closed ranks and pigeon flock and peregrine parted company.
I called Matt when the peregrine started moving southeast, towards him. He answered the phone with, “Yep, I have an adult flying over me right now.”
A bit later, we reunited with Mary and Deborah. After discussing the sighting, we all agreed that this could be one of the Loyola peregrines, but it could also be one of the adults from Broadway. Deborah will stay on this and we also have several volunteers on campus that will help her out, so with any hope we can finally figure out if we have a pair breeding in the area or not. I’m really hoping we do!