Is love in the air for peregrine pair?
Courtship may be the birds' current interest, wildlife experts say.
HE FEMALE OF THE PAIR OF peregrine falcons that have taken up residence at the Stambaugh Building in downtown Youngstown has been identified as Stellar, a bird born in 2003 at the LTV steel plant in Cleveland.
Tom Henry, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said the two raptors recently discovered at the site are likely in a pair-bonding stage and might soon lay a clutch of eggs.
Henry is hopeful that the Youngstown peregrines will successfully court and produce eggs in their Stambaugh nesting cavity.
"We can't see inside the cavity," he said. "But the building people are working with us, and we are looking for access to the site."
He added that currently a worker would have to dangle over a ledge to get a peek inside, a maneuver they'd rather avoid.
A DOW member visited the site recently to check on the pair's status, Henry said. The pair were not incubating eggs at that time, he said, because both birds were seen leaving and entering the cavity.
Inscriptions on bands attached to the falcon's legs provided identification and were acquired by observing the birds as they flew and perched around the opening in the building where their nest is located.
"The female was banded by the ODNR in 2003," Henry said. He added that the male is likely a bird from the Atlantic Flyway area, and he believes it may have been banded by Cornell University ornithological personnel. The ODNR is still investigating information gathered from the male's leg band.
"He looks like a mature male from 2003 or earlier," he said. "He also could be a bird from the Pittsburgh area."
Stellar was born and banded in 2003 along with her nestmates, Griffin and Intrepid. However, Henry said, she is the first of the three birds that the ODNR has been able to acquire additional information about since they fledged.
The female's parents
Stellar's parents were a male from New Jersey and an unbanded female. Henry said the state hopes that the ultimate result of peregrine nesting in Ohio is a natural population of the raptors, something Ohio never had even in the past.
"Peregrines nested in high cliffs," he said. "And there are no such cliffs in Ohio."
However, he added, the birds have done an excellent job of adapting to Ohio's modern environment.
According to the ODNR, the 2005 peregrine nesting season is well under way in Ohio.
The latest update for the 2005 falcon nesting season shows at least 20 pairs around Ohio; 16 sites have eggs.
Three other sites have territorial pairs, but nesting has yet to be confirmed. The earliest nests have eggs that are expected to begin to hatch later this week.