Sure sign of spring: Peregrine spotted on UND water tower

A peregrine falcon showed up Sunday at the UND water tower, and leg bands suggest the bird is “Terminator,” a female that has been nesting in Grand Forks since 2008.

Tim Driscoll, a Grand Forks raptor expert, said today that he first saw the falcon at the tower site late Sunday afternoon. He got a better look at the peregrine this morning, and while the ID isn’t 100 percent positive, Driscoll said the falcon at the tower has a silver band on her right leg and a colored band on her left.

That’s consistent with Terminator, he said, and varies from most banded falcons, which have colored bands on their right legs and silver bands on the left.

“She’s not the only peregrine like that, but it’s circumstantial evidence in our favor,” Driscoll said.

The UND water tower has a peregrine nesting box Terminator has used the past several years.

The peregrine also is large, suggesting a female, and has facial markings consistent with Terminator, Driscoll said. The falcon was feeding atop the tower this morning, which provides even stronger evidence she’s planning to take up residence for the summer and is awaiting a male to breed, he said.

“She looks like she belongs there,” Driscoll said. “She looks like she’s settling in.

“At this point, we’re thrilled about Terminator and we’re waiting for a male to show up.”

Driscoll said Terminator’s appearance wasn’t a surprise because Saturday and Sunday were big days for migrating birds. If a male shows up and things proceed on schedule, Driscoll said he expects Terminator to begin laying eggs sometime between May 1 and May 5.

Terminator first showed up on the Grand Forks falcon scene in 2008 as a 2-year-old hatched in Brandon, Man.

In related peregrine news, “Eve,” a Grand Forks-hatched peregrine produced by Terminator in 2011, has been spotted in St. Paul. According to Driscoll, the falcon, named after a local birder, was found injured last year in St. Paul from what appeared to be a territorial dispute. She spent several days at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center last spring before being released in Alexandria, Minn.

Driscoll said he got a report last week that Eve is paired up with a male peregrine at Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, where she appears to have replaced a female falcon that formerly used the site and which died this past winter.

“In other words, there’s an opening at the nest site,” Driscoll said. “The report I got was from the person watching the nest, and they have a positive ID on the band number, so one of our babies made it and is starting to nest.”

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