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Peregrine Falcons at the University of Michigan 2010

peregrine flyingperegrine flying

One of the peregrines flying near the bell tower. Notice bird is carrying prey with one foot. Photos by Per Kjeldsen, March 18 2007.

peregrine feedingperegrine on ledge

Female with purple band on right leg, male with black/green 85/K band on left leg. Photos by Bob DeLosh, 2006.

peregrine looking in windowperegrine looking in window

A young peregrine visiting January 23, 2007, looking in window of 8th floor office at the Graduate Library. Photos by Janet Hinshaw





For more photos, see the page for 2006.

spotting scope

Two Peregrine Falcons were first sighted at the University of Michigan Burton carillon tower on March 8, 2006. They attempted to nest but were unsuccessful. Both birds stayed until about November, and there was only one bird seen during the winter (probably the male). He didn't spend much time on the tower. What may have been a third, young bird was seen in January 2007 (see above). The adult came and harrassed him several times. The female returned in early March 2007, and the male and female were seen together, performing courtship diving and head bobbing displays. They were quite vocal, and could often be heard calling. The female left for the winter each year. They were unsuccessful in nesting both in 2006 and 2007. The female abandoned the nest after a thunderstorm each year, and it appears that where they nested was flooded when it rained. We believe the nest was on one of the SW corner ledges in 2006 and in the rain gutter just under the roof on the S side in 2007. Maybe they'll have better luck this year! The female was reported back on March 7, 2008. Watch for courtship behavior, which is quite spectacular to watch.

We placed a spotting scope in the window of our bird collection room, where we have a great view of the east side of the tower. We have been checking on them several times a day since.

They spend most of their time on the two top ledges of the tower, by the windows. If you walk around the tower, you can often see them perched on one of the upper ledges, or on the ledge just under the roof.

Please keep checking and let us know if you see anything! In 2006 we were unable to get good enough photos of the bands to determine the origin of either bird. The male's bands were clearly seen in March 2007 and he was identified as having hatched in Kentucky in 2004. It has not been determined if the female is banded or not. If anyone gets a good picture of her legs, please send it to me so that we can try and find out where she came from.

peregrine bill

The "tooth" on the upper bill and the notch in the lower bill allow the bird to shear bones and tough tissue. Falcons have a round nostril, opening within the cere (the fleshy colored area at the base of the bill). These features are different from other hawks and are two of the defining characters of the family Falconidae.

photo of specimen from Idaho by Janet Hinshaw

Various staff and students have been checking around the base of the tower for food remains. We are collecting the remains in the Bird Division. We will keep a running tally of what we find. Highlights were Yellow Rail and Least Bittern in 2006, several Brown Thrashers and 2 Least Bitterns in 2007, Yellow Rail and Least Bittern in 2008. These birds eat fewer Pigeons than many peregrines in more urban settings. They seem to hunt mainly along the river and marshes near town. Their favorite foods seem to be cuckoos, flickers, woodcock, doves and pigeons. One of the Peregrines was seen in 2006 near Ford Lake. If you see the birds away from central campus, please let us know when and where you have spotted them. Old remains that fell/blew down and were obviously from the previous year that have been found have been added to the previous year's list.

Once again, the female left for the winter, and the male stayed. He has been seen occasionally around the tower. The female is back as of 9 March, and both were seen sitting on the bell tower. Keep an eye out for their spectacular courtship flights! Please let us know if you find food remains at the base of the tower, so we can go pick them up. Thanks!

DateFood Item
12-Marwoodcock, & head, pigeon head & wing
15-Marpigeon tail feather, starling head
17-Marpigeon feathers, mourning dove feathers
18-Mar starling, mourning dove
21-Marmeadowlark head, woodcicl head & leg, Dourning Dove head, Son gsparrow head
22-Marmourning Dove wing
24-Marwoodcock head
29-Mar meadowlark
5-Aprwoodcock head, woodpecker head
6-Aprflicker head
9-Aprsora rail wing
11-Aprrobin head & wings
12-Aprsora rail wing
19-Aprsnipe wing, woodcock head
20-Aprrobin head & wings
23-Apr pied-billed grebe wing
28-Aprpigeon pectoral girdle
29-Aprfemale red-bellied woodpecker
30-Aprwoodcock head
4-Mayyellow-billed cuckoo & wing
5-Maysora rail wing
10-Maymourning dove wing, yellow-billed cuckoo wing & leg, woodcock head
12-Maymale rose-breasted grosbeak head, woodcock head, sora rail wing, L. yellowlegs head
17-Maymeadowlark body, rose-breasted grosbeak wing
24-May 2 Y-b cuckoo wings, sora wing, rose-br grosbeak head
25-May waxwing
31-May Y-b cuckoo, b-b cuckoo, woodcock wing, yellowlegs head
10-Jun 2 b-b cuckoo, Great-crested flycatcher wings & tail, meadowlark head
11-Jun b-b cuckoo, catbird(old), y-b cuckoo feathers
14-Jun y-b cuckoo wing & tail feathers, meadowlark leg
15-Jun meadowlark head, snipe head, unidentified foot (old)
16-Jun b-b cuckoo (old)
17-Jun pied-billed grebe foot, meadowlark foot
21-Jun y-b cuckoo head
22-Jun sora wing, pied-billed grebe leg (matching to one on 17th?)
24-Jun y-b cuckoo wing
28-Jun y-b cuckoo
2-Jul mourning dove head & foot
9-Jul b-b cuckoo head, catbird? Feathers
15-Jul y-b cuckoo wing, rail leg
16-Aug sora rail, virginia rail head
19-Aug sora rail wing
6-Sep 2 flicker wings
17-Sep brown thrasher
19-Sep red-headed woodpecker wing, flicker wing, sora rail
20-Sep flicker
24-Sep killdeer
6-Oct flicker head, pied-billed grebe head, mourning dove wings (3), sora rail wing, green-winged teal foot
8-Oct flicker wing
13-Oct flicker head, downy wing
21-Oct woodcock, meadowlark foot
28-Oct blue jay (old)
3-Nov flicker wing
5-Nov coot head, woodcock body, great-crested flycatcher (old)
8-Nov killdeer head
10-Nov sora rail (old)
19-Nov woodcock head & wings, killdeer wing
24-Nov killdeer wing

Link to the 2006 web page.

Link to the 2007 web page.

Link to the 2008 web page.

Last updated 24 February 2009

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photo taken in Alaska by David Mindell