150 Boise Icons: Urban peregrines

awebb@idahostatesman.comMay 2, 2013 

0403 Local peregrine.JPG

Did you know? “Falco peregrinus” is the scientific name of the peregrine falcon. “Peregrine” is Latin for wanderer. The birds often migrate long distances over the winter. Shown here: A screen shot taken this spring of the nesting box high above 10th and Main with one of its residents.

Peregrine falcons nesting on tall Downtown buildings are not phenomena unique to Boise. The nests and webcams that monitor them 24/7 exist in places as far-flung as Jersey City, N.J., and Kansas City, Mo. For a time, a pair of peregrines took up residence atop the sugar beet factory in Nampa.

But urban peregrines are, somehow, classic Boise birds. Like the Foothills, the Greenbelt and the Boise River, the birds represent yet another way that nature is woven into the unique life of this particular city.

For five years, cameras have captured wild peregrines nesting in a box outside the 14th floor of One Capital Center at 10th and Main. The public has paid attention, tuning in to watch every nuance of avian drama. Viewers post a constant stream of updates: "Saw an adult peregrine preen, April 30, 3:31:14 p.m. Saw an adult peregrine sleeping, April 30, 3:32:50 p.m." and so on.

This year, a peregrine pair at 10th and Main is caring for four eggs - an average number. The chicks, called eyases, will leave the nest early this summer. Eyases prepare to leave the nest by taking short "test flights." Parents continue to feed them while they hone their flying and hunting skills. Thanks to the webcam (sponsored by The Peregrine Fund, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Fiberpipe), residents will have an up-close view.

The peregrine falcon represents a wildlife recovery success story. Peregrines had almost disappeared from Idaho by 1974. The Peregrine Fund began breeding and releasing birds in Idaho and surrounding states in the 1980s. Falcons re-established themselves. The federal government removed them from the endangered species list in 1999. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to monitor their numbers. The birds are fully protected under state and federal law.

Can't get enough of wild bird life? The Peregrine Fund offers a seasonal kestrel cam trained on a nesting box at the World Center for Birds of Prey. Link to falcons and kestrels through idahostatesman.com.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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