Welcome to the 2011 "Falcon Watch" about the peregrine falcon - fastest creature on earth! We will study and watch one peregrine falcon family during nesting season, approximately late February into June. There has been a nestbox on the 12th floor of "Tower City" in Cleveland, Ohio since 1991.
SW is the resident mother falcon……
Last year, the father peregrine falcon at this nestsite was Ranger. Ranger and SW were the proud parents of 3 young falcons, but just as their chicks were about to fly from the nest, an accident nearly cost the life of Ranger. In June, he slammed into a building – possibly during a territorial dispute with another falcon – and sustained severe head trauma. This left SW alone to tend their young. Ranger was taken to the Medina Raptor Center where he underwent lengthy rehabilitation. Although pessimistic for quite awhile as to whether Ranger would ever be able live free again, his recovery progressed slowly but surely and he was released back into the wild on Sunday, January 23.
Here is Ranger flying free again.
Peregrine falcons generally stay with the same mate every year, but during Ranger’s long absence, SW found a new mate. Boomer appeared at the skyscraper nestsite in August and he and SW began to bond. "FalconCams", which are sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, allow us an up close and personal look into the nestbox. In the following picture captured by the FalconCam, SW and Boomer can be seen bowing to each other, which is a peregrine courtship ritual.
Falcon fans have been worried ever since Ranger was released, because peregrine falcons are fierce predators and are known to fight for control of their territory. As of yet, Ranger has not been seen at the Terminal Tower nestsite challenging Boomer – but will he come back? Another worry is that SW is getting up in years and she could be challenged for control of her nestsite by a younger female.
This is Boomer……
If you are new to watching falcons, here is some background. By the 1970’s, the species peregrine falcon had nearly become extinct in North America because of the use of a pesticide called "DDT". In 1972 DDT was banned in North America and for many years, scientists and concerned people from all walks of life worked hard to save the species. In 1999 the peregrine falcon was removed from the List of Endangered Species, one of the great success stories in the field of wildlife conservation. The birds are still being monitored and helped by humans to make sure the species continues its recovery.
We have a penpal in Cleveland, Mr. Scott Wright, who has been a volunteer peregrine falcon nest monitor for 20 years and who sends us news and pictures throughout nesting season. His volunteer helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Saladin, also send along pictures and observations. Mr. Wright took the following picture from inside the skyscraper window. The falcons are perched atop the "FalconCams".
You may think it's winter, but Boomer and SW are thinking spring, and soon they will begin the annual nesting life-cycle. Courtship, rivalry, survival, new life, parenting - falcons and humans have a lot in common. We hope you will enjoy studying this magnificent species that escaped extinction and now rules city skies. Stay tuned for falcon news……..
To watch the falcons live go to: http://www.falconcam-cmnh.org/news.php Our thanks to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for sponsoring the FalconCams and for the still.
For more about falcons, go to: http://raptorsinthecity.org/
Thanks to Scott Wright for his photographs and to Mr. and Mrs. Saladin for the pictures of Ranger’s release and Boomer in flight. They may be used in any non-commercial publication, electronic or print, but please give photo credit.
Ranger was cared for by Laura Jordan of the Medina Raptor Center and by veterinarian Dr. Gary Riggs. The Medina Raptor Center is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating birds and specializes in birds of prey. To learn more about their work go to: http://www.medinaraptorcenter.org/ Our thanks to Ms. Jordan, Dr. Riggs and the staff of the Medina Raptor Center for their care of Ranger.