Nesting success continues for Indiana peregrine falcons

By: Newscenter 16 staff Email
By: Newscenter 16 staff Email

The success of the peregrine falcon in Indiana continues with another spring of encouraging nesting numbers.

DNR biologists have documented 16 peregrine falcon nests this year. Eggs or chicks were observed at 14. The remaining nests were inaccessible for observation, although biologists suspect those nests also contain eggs or hatchlings.

The total of 16 nests is down from 18 in 2012, but up from 12 in 2011.

No new nesting sites were discovered this year, although falcons nested at an existing nest box on Fort Wayne’s One Summit Center for the first time since 2007.

Chicks have already hatched at eight sites, including Fort Wayne, according to DNR non-game bird biologist John Castrale. Biologists will begin banding the young birds this month.

In Indianapolis, Kathy Q, a 15-year-old female peregrine, found a new mate after losing her longtime mate, Kinney, last year. Kinney died after striking Market Tower, where he had nested with Kathy Q for 10 years. At 19 years old, Kinney was believed to be the oldest and most productive peregrine in the Midwest, having fathered a combined 61 young with Kathy Q and a previous female.

Castrale said Kathy Q has partnered with a 2-year-old falcon named Will from Grand Rapids, Mich. Biologists know the bird’s name, origin and age because it is banded. The couple is raising four chicks this year.

“He showed up last fall after Kinney was found dead,” Castrale said. “They wintered in Indianapolis and formed a pair bond. So far it looks good.”

In South Bend, Guinevere, a 12-year-old female, has also found a new mate this year after losing her mate Zephyr last summer. Zephyr was found dead and also believed to have flown into a structure.

Guinevere’s new mate is unbanded, which means biologists know little about him.

After peregrine falcons fledge, males tend to settle about 100 miles from their birthplace and females tend to nest about 200 miles from their birthplace, Castrale said. One Indiana-released falcon dispersed to Davenport, Iowa, where she is nesting.

Peregrine falcons were reintroduced to Indiana from 1991 to 1994. Before reintroduction projects began in Midwestern states, the species had not been recorded in the state since 1906.

The bird is on Indiana’s endangered species list, although that could change this summer.

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission is considering delisting the bird, a move that Castrale suggested based on criteria established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Castrale said there are more peregrine falcons nesting in Indiana now than ever before.

“Sixteen doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but peregrines are widely dispersed,” Castrale said.

The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999.

The 14 nesting sites where biologists confirmed eggs or hatching are:

East Chicago, ArcelorMittal Steel-Indiana Harbor East: Four eggs.

East Chicago, ArcelorMittal Steel-Indiana Harbor West: One egg.

Fort Wayne, One Summit Square: Four eggs; three hatched as of April 30.

Gary, U.S. Steel (coke plant): Four eggs.

Gary, Carmeuse Lime Plant: Four eggs.

Indianapolis, Market Tower: Four eggs; four hatched.

Indianapolis, IPL Stout Plant: Four eggs; four hatched.

Michigan City, NIPSCO Plant: Four eggs; one hatched as of April 29.

Madison, Ind./Milton, Ky. Bridge: At least one egg observed.

New Albany, Duke Energy, Gallagher Power Plant: Four eggs; three hatched as of April 30.

Porter, ArcelorMittal Steel-Burns Harbor Plant: Three eggs.

Porter NIPSCO Bailly Plant: Five eggs; three hatched as of May 6.

South Bend, City-County Building: Four eggs.

Whiting, BP Amoco refinery: Four eggs; three hatched as of May 7.

Nesting is also suspected in Wheatfield at the NIPSCO Schafer Power Plant and in Gary at U.S. Steel Steel Producing Plant, although egg-laying has not been confirmed. Additionally, falcons were spotted at six other locations in Indiana this spring, but with no evidence of nesting.

Falcon cams can be viewed at:

Indianapolis (Market Tower): blogs.indystar.com/falconblog/
Indianapolis (IPL Plant): apps.iplpower.com/axis/falcon.aspx
South Bend (City-County building): southbendin.gov/falcam/
Fort Wayne (One Summit Center): aep.com/environment/falconcam/

For information about the Midwest peregrines, see midwestperegrine.org/.


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