Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

December 2015

Vol. 43, No. 6

A New Peregrine Falcon Nest at Boston University Medical Campus

Jeffrey Boone Miller

June 22, 2015. Young falcons visited by a parent (Photograph by the author).

Here’s what I usually see from my office window: a sliver of sky, a handful of locust trees, distant rooftops, and, dominating all, an almost featureless concrete wall that is twelve stories high. In this cityscape, birdlife is usually limited to pigeons, starlings, gulls, the occasional crow, or, on a good day, a Red-tailed Hawk.

One morning in March 2015, however, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something zip by my window that was big, dark, and fast. My first thought—maybe just a hope—was falcon. It took a few days before I finally got a good look. Yes, it was a Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). This bird was perched on an inaccessible ledge that is almost the only feature of that concrete wall across the street from my office. About ten stories up but two stories below the roof, this southeast-facing ledge is part of the Dr. Solomon Fuller Mental Health Building, which is located on the corner of Albany and East Newton streets on the Boston University Medical Campus in Boston.

By the end of March, I felt sure that I was seeing two falcons, but I never saw them together until early April when they appeared on the ledge together. Through 8x binoculars, I could see that one was somewhat smaller than the other. Upon enlarging the digital images that I took with a 300-mm lens through my all-too-grimy window, I could see that one bird was unbanded. The other bird, however, had two bands on the left leg— upper black over lower green—and one grayish band on the right leg. This banding and color scheme is currently the standard for eastern Peregrines, with the right leg band made of metal with a unique nine-digit identifying number and the two left bands carrying alphanumeric codes (Center for Conservation Biology 2015). Unfortunately, the codes were not distinct enough to read in my much enlarged photos of the bird in flight.

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