Birders spot falcons believed to be GF’s coupleThey can’t say for sure yet, but local birders seem fairly convinced that Terminator and Roosevelt have returned once again to Grand Forks. The peregrine falcon couple, a local item since 2009, was spotted this week nesting atop a tower on the The University of North Dakota campus, where they were relocated from their original domicile on the late “Smiley” water tower.
By: By Chuck Haga , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
They can’t say for sure yet, but local birders seem fairly convinced that Terminator and Roosevelt have returned once again to Grand Forks.
The peregrine falcon couple, a local item since 2009, was spotted this week nesting atop a tower on the The University of North Dakota campus, where they were relocated from their original domicile on the late “Smiley” water tower.
“We’re not sure yet because we haven’t verified the bands, but all indications are that we have the male and the female back,” said Tim Driscoll, director of the Urban Raptor Research Project.
One clue: The male, Roosevelt, “has a minor eye injury and closes his eye a lot,” he said, and the male that has taken up residence this spring shows that behavior.
“We’ve been watching for the past couple of weeks,” he said, “and we had three or four false alarms. But I was out there and saw a blob on the nesting box and said, ‘I think that’s our girl.’”
The first time the falcon believed to be Terminator was spotted this year was Monday. The probable Roosevelt first appeared on Thursday and was spotted inspecting the nest box near Starcher Hall as Terminator stood a few feet away on a railing.
They’re about a week early, “which is how it’s been for a lot of things this spring,” Driscoll said.
Grand Forks birder Dave Lambeth agreed there is a good chance the birds are the pair from previous years, but weather conditions made confirmation difficult this week. Lambeth and others use cameras with strong lenses to check identifying bands attached to the falcons’ legs.
“There are two bands,” he said. “One is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service band, and the other is a colored band with a combination of numbers and letters. Those are big enough that we can photograph them from some distance and see who they are.
“There were two birds there as of (Thursday),” he said. “We just don’t know if they’re the same two as before.”
Nine young — so far
Driscoll and his father built the peregrine falcon nesting box in 2006 and placed it on the old water tower, which was demolished in fall 2009.
Terminator first arrived in Grand Forks in 2008. She mated with a Fargo-born falcon named Bear, but the male didn’t return in 2009. Roosevelt, believed to be Bear’s brother, did show up and settled in with Terminator, and the pair returned in 2010 and 2011.
The falcons produced three young each of the past three years. Some died, but Driscoll said he looks forward to hearing reports of offspring nesting somewhere. “Those babies could show up anywhere in the area.”
Peregrine falcons were threatened and were not common in this area, but they have expanded their range by adapting to a more urban lifestyle.
“You normally find them on cliffs and mountains and river gorges,” Driscoll said. “But they’ve adapted well to cities with overpasses, water towers and other structure.”
Chuck Haga is a reporter
at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.