Thursday, June 24, 1999

Downtown's peregrine falcons have flown the coop




BY EARNEST WINSTON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[falcon]
Peregrine falcon
| ZOOM |
        Once again, Cincinnati's peregrine falcons are nowhere to be found. Despite several spottings during the past spring at Chemed Center downtown, officials at the Ohio Division of Wildlife have been unable to locate where the birds have nested since last year.

        “We have had them sighted in the downtown area from time to time,” said Todd Haines, district wildlife supervisor for the Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Xenia.

        Wildlife officials said they were unsure how many peregrines might be in Cincinnati, but the number could be as low as two.

        The most recent spotting occurred about a month ago.

        “We think they're still in the area, which means that they are nesting someone else. But whether they're in Kentucky, or Cincinnati, who knows?” Mr. Haines said.

        Officials at Raptor Inc., a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates injured wild birds, said they think one of the peregrine nests fell to the ground.

        The peregrines were introduced into downtown this decade as part of a state recovery program to boost their numbers. They had nested at the Fourth and Vine Tower, but bird- watchers lost track in 1997. The falcons were introduced to downtown skyscrapers because they resemble the rocky cliffs of the birds' natural habitat.

        There's no evidence the birds, which feed on pigeons, helped reduce the pigeon population locally, Mr. Haines said.

        The peregrine is a crow-sized bird with a wingspan up to 44 inches. They are the fastest birds known, capable of reaching speeds of about 200 miles per hour while diving.

        The birds had early nesting success in Cincinnati, but at least one was sent to Dayton.

        A year ago, biologists said the birds cracked open two of three eggs — an indication the eggs failed to fully develop. The third egg was missing and was presumed destroyed.

        Mr. Haines is optimistic the birds will be found eventually. “Just a matter of time,” he said.

        Anyone who spots a peregrine falcon in the Cincinnati area is asked to call Rick Jasper of the Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in Xenia. The number is (937) 372-9261.

       



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