Hatching Update

•May 13, 2013 • Comments Off on Hatching Update

Wow, did it get busy fast. I have a breather for the morning, so I wanted to quick catch up. Here’s what we have:

  • Chicago, Broadway: Five eggs were laid in early April. This means we should have chicks hatching around May 13-15.
  • Chicago, Millennium Park: Four eggs were laid in early April. On 09-May, Mary and Matt checked the nest and there were three chicks, about 1-2 days old.
  • Chicago, Pilsen: Four eggs were laid in early April. On 05-May, the nest was checked and there were at least two chicks, about 1-2 days old.
  • Chicago, River Birds: Five eggs were laid in early April. On 05-May, the nest was checked and there were at least three chicks, about 1-2 days old.
  • Chicago, South Loop: Four eggs were laid in early April. On 05-May, two chicks hatched. Since then, two eggs have remained, and probably will remain, unhatched. This is not uncommon and is no cause for alarm.
  • Chicago, St. Mary’s Hospital: Five eggs were laid in early April. By 10-May, two of the eggs had hatched.
  • Chicago, UIC: Three eggs were laid by the new UIC pair starting 01-May. This means chicks won’t begin hatching until early June, which is when we’ll be banding at most of the other sites. Due the the nest turnover, the new UIC pair got a late start.
  • Chicago, Wacker: One egg was laid on 08-Apr. I will be going there this week to see what is going on.
  • Chicago, Wrigleyville: This is a new nest. Matt and I will be going there later this week to get an update. Four eggs were laid in early April.
  • Evanston: Four eggs were laid in early April. The chicks started hatching on 06-May. All four are hatched now.
  • Savanna: Five eggs were laid in early April. Unfortunately, the nest cam has been very flakey, but we believe at least one chick has hatched by now from the brief glimpse we got from the camera last week.
  • Waukegan: Three eggs were laid in early April. One chick was visible on camera by 06-May. More may have hatched by now.

We have another 10 or so sites that are on the observation list, so will have to see about those!

Nitz and Mate at UIC

•May 6, 2013 • Comments Off on Nitz and Mate at UIC

UIC adult female: NitzA nest turnover has happened at UIC. 16-year old Rosie was driven from the territory by a new pair of peregrines in mid-April. Both of the new adults have black over green bands, so it looks like Rosie’s unbanded mate also either did not return this year or lost the territory to the newcomers as well.

Mary and I went up to observe the new adults who are currently sitting on three eggs. The eggs were laid around 01-May. When we arrived at UIC, a very small peregrine with beautiful coloring (his yellow was more of an orange yellow) was sitting on the eggs. From his size, we were guessing it was the male, but without leg bands, you never know. After about 40 minutes, we saw the other adult fly by, so I wandered down the way to check other windows. I found the adult sitting on a ledge south of the nest ledge and was able to identify her as Nitz (b/g 2/*Y) born in 2001 at the Froedtert Malt building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Well, this is to say I identified her as b/g 2/*Y. I didn’t have my cell with me, so we couldn’t check the banding database. However, I did tell Mary that the bands sounded awfully familiar for some reason. As it turns out, that’s because Nitz has actually tried to nest in Chicago before. In 2004, she was identified at the Lawndale site with a mate. As far as we know, the pair was unsuccessful that year. In 2006, she was again identified at Lawndale. This time, her mate was identified too. He was Dave (b/g 14/K) born in 2001 at the Uptown Theater site in Chicago. Although copulation was observed, the pair was again unsuccessful. In 2007, the site was demolished, so we lost track of Nitz and Dave.

After an hour or so, Nitz finally took off for the nest to kick the male off the eggs. He left a little reluctantly, but when he did, he was out of there like a shot. I got one quick picture of his retreating back, but the only band visible was the back of the USFW band. We do know from the nest cam that his is black/green, though. I’ll be interested to see if this is Dave.

Max’s Leg Bands

•May 6, 2013 • Comments Off on Max’s Leg Bands

Finally. Full confirmation on the ID of the adult male at the MCCMary and I went up to Willowbrook to help Dr. Jen remove Max’s leg bands. Max looked great, though he is blinded in one eye. Dr. Jen put him under anesthetic for the band removal, which went very well. Mary also trimmed up his talons while we had him under. I got the chance to touch him, which was both wonderful and weird for some reason. I also got plenty of chances to photograph the bands that have been my white whale for so many years. I don’t know what felt more odd – touching Max or holding those damnable leg bands in the palm of my hand and FINALLY 100% confirming my band read after all these years. I’m glad that the read that I’ve felt pretty sketchy about year after year turned out to be accurate. Anyway, soon Max will be going to his new home. Good luck, Max!

Chicks Soon

•April 29, 2013 • Comments Off on Chicks Soon

We should be seeing chicks start to hatch this week. Savanna laid the first egg of the season (that we know for sure) on the 28th, so that was 32 days of incubation yesterday. Most of the other sites shouldn’t be far behind. Good time to check in on the nestcams if you have some free space in the corner of your desktop!

MCC Max update

•April 24, 2013 • Comments Off on MCC Max update

I have good news. Longtime adult male at the MCC, Max, who went down in a territorial fight earlier this season has survived. He is blind in one eye, but apparently healthy other than that. A placement with a licensed education bird handler has been arranged, so he will have a good life going forward.

Chinatown Peregrines

•April 22, 2013 • Comments Off on Chinatown Peregrines

Chinatown Adult Male: HuffFlickr user John (Chicago Man) contacted me a few days ago to share some pictures he took of a peregrine in Chinatown. Incidentally, John also got the pictures of Max back in April, so he’s quite a spotter! Sunday, Sean and I went down to the spot John had given me and watched for about three hours. It appears there is a new nesting pair in Chinatown! It doesn’t look like they have eggs as the pair was in courting mode, not nesting mode.

I was only able to identify the male, but the identification was a great surprised and treat for me. He is 2011 North Broadway chick “Huff”. I both helped band Huff and named him after Scott Huff of the now retired podcast Huff and Stapes. I named two other chicks that year – Stapes and Bray.

Since it is rare to have definitive sightings of chicks after they fledge, it’s always gratifying when we get word that one has lived through the harrowing first year. It’s even better when we get word that the chick, now and adult, is nesting. It’s even BETTER when that chick is one that you named. To put this into perspective, I’ve helped band around 125 chicks over the last nine years. Of those, I’ve named 15 — naming rights are nearly always given to the building or site occupants. There is about a 60% mortality rate for peregrine falcons in their first year of life, so that leaves six chicks that I have helped band and name in the lat nine years that would still be likely to be alive. Given the wandering nature of peregrine youth, those six chicks could be anywhere, from Argentina to the Yukon Territory. I hope that helps explain why I was so surprised and delighted when I id’d Huff. This all said, Huff made it quite a lot easier for me, since he’s decided to pick a nesting spot about a mile from my house.

Illinois egg total: 40

•April 16, 2013 • Comments Off on Illinois egg total: 40

So far, so good. River, St. Mary’s and Savanna at 5 eggs. Millennium Park, Broadway, Pilsen, South Loop, Evanston and Waukegan at 4 eggs. Wacker at 1 egg. Nest checks have yielded a few inactive sites or sites that have activity but no eggs. These include Gold Coast, Oak Street Beach, St. Michael’s, UIC, Uptown Theater and Hyde Park. As the season winds on, some of the harder sites will yield more data.

South Loop Falcon Cam Live

•April 9, 2013 • Comments Off on South Loop Falcon Cam Live

South Loop's Helen through nest camThe 1130 South Michigan Falcon Cam is live! It’s a gorgeous camera. We can actually read leg bands with this camera, so that will be nice for next year.

There must either be something shiny on the camera or it must make a little bit of noise, because I noticed that Helen seemed pretty keen on glaring directly into the lens a few times before settling down on her eggs.

For those curious, there is a peregrine pellet right in front of the nest. It’s that blackish round thing. Peregrine pellets aren’t as interesting as owl pellets because they contain mostly feathers. So, if you watch the nestcam and it looks like the adult is choking, don’t worry, they are probably just regurgitating a pellet.

Another cool thing — Helen and Mr. M. have such radically different breast plumage, I can tell on the webcam this is Helen without seeing her bands.

R.I.P. Rober Ebert

•April 8, 2013 • Comments Off on R.I.P. Rober Ebert

EbertAs most in Chicago know, famed Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert died on April 4, 2013.

I grew up in very rural Montana. We had three television channels on a good day. For some reason, we got some WGN programming, and so I grew up watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball. They were my favorite team.

My other Chicago connection was through a show called “Sneak Previews” and later “At the Movies” hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. We had two movie theaters in town and often didn’t get anything aside from big budget studio films, so Siskel and Ebert were my ticket to hear about what was created in the foreign market, in the low budget market, etc…

I was so sad to hear about Gene Siskel dying and was again sad when Roger Ebert first became ill. In 2009, our team decided to name two of the Uptown peregrine chicks “Siskel” and “Ebert” (“Ebert” the peregrine is in the picture above). I wrote to Roger Ebert to let him know and had a really nice correspondence with him. He was very, very touched to have a falcon namesake. But, his stories about his experiences seeing movies at the Uptown Theater were the real treasure from those emails. I fell in love with the Uptown Theater the first time I walked through the doors. He’d seen the theater in its golden age. We both felt like it was a very special place.

I’m sad that the world is without Roger Ebert. He was a truly nice man and a great film educator to a little girl in rural Montana.

Egg Count

•April 8, 2013 • Comments Off on Egg Count

Savanna nest camWe have new egg counts. Evanston Library has 4 eggs. Savanna, IL has 5 eggs. St. Mary’s Hospital (Chicago) has 5 eggs. Pilsen (Chicago) has 2 eggs. Waukegan has 2 confirmed by webcam, maybe 3 — hard to tell for sure. Five eggs is a pretty big clutch. Wonder if we are going to have a bumper crop this year?