The natural habitats for Peregrines in the wild are high cliffs and mountains. Peregrines prefer to nest in high places so the City Hall Courthouse's two towers with many cubbies and various peaks are great potential nest sites. There is plenty of food for the Peregrine Falcons, and few natural predators. Typically they do not migrate in the winter due to adequate food supply.
Each year the Raptor Center comes to band the falcons, collect bad eggs, and take blood samples from the peregrine chicks and check on the overall health of the birds. There are several Peregrine Watchers each spring that identify the side of 5th St. Tower where the nest is located. Peregrines usually don’t build nests from twigs or leaves. They use rocks to support the eggs. During the incubation period the male peregrine watches the eggs at night and the female watches them during the day.
One of the most spectacular skills of the Peregrine Falcon is their ability to catch their prey mid-flight. Their victims are usually the pigeons or starlings that are in the urban setting. Occasionally, Municipal Building Commission staff have received complaints of bird remnants on the sidewalk.
A pair of Peregrine Falcons was first seen regularly around the 5th St. Tower of the building in 1994. No nest could be detected, however, the pair was attached to and would hover about the tower. The male was named Will and the female was unbanded. It was speculated that the pair was from the Multifoods building.
Peregrines continued to frequent the building for the next couple of years, but no one detected a nest, or other signs of offspring until 2000. Employees that worked in the building began to notice intense falcon activity around the building in the spring. In July an unbanded female fledgling was found by the street (Pamela). The Raptor Center released Pamela after banding. A couple of weeks later they found another fledgling that was grounded and sick. The adult female falcon was unidentified, and the adult male falcon was seldom around and believed to have another nest.
In 2001, 2002, and 2003, the unidentified silver banded adult female falcon laid eggs that never hatched. It was discovered that the adult male falcon was Will YX4 whose primary nest was at the Multifoods Tower with another female.
On May 25, 2005 two of the four eggs in the nest in the Fifth Street Tower hatched. Two female chicks were born to the resident female falcon and a new male falcon, named Bor. Bor was fledged in 2003 at an NSP smokestack in Monticello. The two chicks were named Erica and Felicia during their banding on June 14, 2005.
In January 2007, the Raptor Center installed a nesting box in the Fifth Street tower. This allows a larger, more even surface for the falcons to build their nest in. The intent is that more even incubation of the eggs will lead to fewer unhatched eggs. On June 4, 2007 one male chick was banded and officially named Alejandro.
After 2007, our aging resident female peregrine was unable to produce viable eggs and we were without chicks for a few years. She passed away some time in 2011, but her last official sighting in March of 2011 made her the oldest known peregrine falcon in North American at 19 years 10 months of age.
In 2012 a new female took up residence in the tower and produced one female (Zara) and three male chicks (Bud, Hens Solo and Screech) that year. In 2013, two male and two female chicks were banded and names will again be determined through a name suggestion and voting process.
The Municipal Building Commission would like to thank the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for all the information they provided. More information regarding the Peregrine Falcons can be found at http://www.midwestperegrine.org/