Looks like "Athena" and the unidentified male from last year have been hanging out at the nest box on the stack of the High Bridge power plant. We'll be switching the critter cam to feature the falcons soon. In the meantime, check out the High Bridge falcon forum, or read up on last year's nest.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

I've been working in the Mississippi River Gallery today and we've been seeing the Athena has spent most of the afternoon in the nesting box. Could an egg, or two, or three be very far behind? We're hoping so. She's also hollowed out a pit of a depression in the middle of the box, a very good sign of eggs to be coming!

posted on Tue, 03/27/2007 - 5:01pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

In 2005, the first egg appeared on March 28.

Last year, the first egg appeared on March 24.

Come on, Athena!

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

FALCON are in graet danger most of them are not in the u.s.a people think that it give them the right to kill them for there feather

posted on Thu, 03/29/2007 - 12:05pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it's illegal for anyone to take, kill, possess, transport, or import any migratory birds, or their eggs, parts, or nests, without a valid permit. Peregrine falcons were considered an endangered species in the US until 1999, and so even more protected.

I'm not sure what the status of falcons, as a group, is worldwide. And I'm not sure that falcon feathers are in high demand. But I know who I can ask! I'll post an answer soon.

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Are falcons endangered species?

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:44pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Peregrine falcons are no longer considered an endangered species in the US. They were removed from the endangered species list in 1999.

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:59pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I've saved two questions that have been posted anonymously several times, but always (unfortunately) to a non-related thread.

The first is,

"Are the falcons being held in the cage or are they free to leave?"

Or

"Why do you keep the falcons in such a small cage?"

You can see the nest box, either with your naked eye or the scope near the kiosk, on the stack of the High Bridge power plant. The box isn't enclosed, and there's no bigger pen. Humans don't feed the birds or interact with them in any way. The wild falcons are free to come and go as they please. In fact, the nest box is in many ways an ideal site for a family of falcons, and the birds seek it out on their own in the spring.

The second question is,

"Do they come back to the same spot each year?"

That's a tougher question to answer. Generally, yes: mated falcons with good nesting sites tend to come back year after year. But life's tough for peregrine falcons and things happen. On average, only two juveniles successfully fledge per nest. And the first year is dangerous. But if a peregrine survives its first year, its chances of survival are pretty good. Some birds have lived to be 18 or 20, but those probably aren't typical examples. An average lifespan is probably somewhere between 2 and 8 years. Adult peregrines occasionally fight over food, territory, or to replace each other as breeding partners, and the consequences can be deadly.

Here's a chronology of the High Bridge nest box, which was installed in 2000:

  • 2000
    -Father is Spanky (12 years old)
    -Mother is Sophia (3 years old)
    -Chicks are Lily, Irvine and Cherokee
  • 2001
    -Father is Smoke (3 years old; fledged from King Plant)
    -Mother is Sophia (4 years old; fledged from Monticello Plant)
    -Chicks are Gold, Lolo and Sharky (named by students of Roosevelt Elementary School, St. Paul)
  • 2002
    -Father is Smoke
    -Mother is Sophia
    -Chicks are Fluffy (male, named by students at Dayton's Bluff Elementary in St. Paul) and Bolt (female, named by a visitor to the Science Museum of Minnesota).
  • 2003
    -Father is Smoke
    -Mother is Sophia
    -One female chick is Liberty and two male chicks are Faith and Hope (named by Twin Cities Academy 6th graders). The other male chick is Warren (named by a visitor to the Science Museum of Minnesota).
  • 2004
    -Father is Smoke
    -Mother is Delene
    -Only one chick survived (named “Survivor" by students from Achieve Language Academy).
  • 2005
    -Father is Smoke
    -Mother is Athena
    -Four eggs, but no chicks hatched this year because Smoke was displaced after being injured in a fight by an unbanded male.

Athena was back in 2006. We think Smoke's killer was the father of last year's clutch, and it's likely that he's the male we've seen at the box with Athena this year, too.

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 3:27pm
melissa's picture
melissa says:

I am so happy to see that perigrin falcons are not an endangered species any more. I am glad to hope for a better future for them and their environment for the future!

posted on Thu, 04/05/2007 - 4:41pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Athena laid an egg yesterday! (Phew! I was beginning to think she might not lay eggs at all this year...)


Athena's first egg, 2007: Hard to see, but it's there. Congratulations, Athena.

(The egg is the little orange blob near her foot.)

Incubation usually lasts about 34 days, so we could have a chick sometime around May 19, but the birds don't usually start incubating in earnest until they've laid all the eggs they're going to lay.

Stay tuned!

posted on Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:51pm

Thor's picture
Thor says:

It looks like Athena's eggs were waiting for the holiday weekend to hatch. Between Saturday noon and noon today (Monday), three of the four eggs in her box have hatched. I was on duty in the Mississippi River Gallery Saturday when the first egg hatched. Athena appeared to be very aggitated and was bouncing up and down on the eggs. Then we saw her pecking through a partial egg shell, so we figured something big must have happened. A little while later, she was bobbing down and using her beak to clean off the egg debris from the first chick.

So far, she's keeping the chicks underneath with the remaining egg that's yet to hatch. It's amazing the balance that she has to keep not to crush down on those little chicks.

Up next for the chicks, 35 to 45 days of growing in the box before they fledge, testing how well their new wings will work in the air.

-- Thor

posted on Mon, 05/28/2007 - 12:17pm

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