Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peregrines in the Mountains

Bob asked me once if my husband and I ever saw any Peregrines when hiking up in the Wasatch mountains. Up until yesterday, that answer was 'no'. They are hard enough to see when you are holding still, looking for them downtown, let alone while you are walking, looking down so you don't trip and fall off a cliff! DH came home yesterday from his hike to Sundial Peak with news that he had seen a falcon and that he thought he'd gotten a good photo. I have to admit, that at first I wondered if one of our fledglings might be up there. But, that is highly unlikely. Fred saw this beauty in Big Cottonwood Canyon, up the Lake Blanche trail, just as he reached the summit. This view is looking north and down in to Big Cottonwood Canyon. BTW, if you want a spectacular autumn hike into a gold aspen grove, this is the hike to do, but just to the lake. Only experts should attempt the hike to the peak.

Do you see him?
How about now?
Me in a photo from a hike we did back in 2007. The arrow points to Sundial Peak where the Peregrine was perched.
On the trail leading to Lake Blanche in Autumn 2004.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Young of the Year Update

I had a note from Bob yesterday:

Thurs., August 14 at >6:03 p.m.: One young-of-the-year observed perched atop the Zions Bank Tower (west end on north face = near the northwest corner), wailing to get the attention of an adult perched to the west on top of the Gateway West Tower at the northeast corner

Wailing? Must be Hunter, ha ha.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Help Save the Henefer Greater Sage-Grouse Lek!

Hello fellow bird watchers,

Do you know what a Lek is? I didn't, until Rahul sent me an invitation to attend a special meeting to try to convince the Morgan County Planning Commission not to approve an amendment to the Morgan County Future Land Use Map.

Definition of Lek:  an assembly area where animals (as the prairie chicken) carry on display and courtship behavior; also :  an aggregation of animals assembled on a lek for courtship.

The Greater Sage-Grouse is very close to being on the endangered list. So close, that land where this springtime mating ritual takes place is being rushed to sale to developers. In order to make the sale, the land use designation has to be amended to redesignate approximately 2980.4 acres from “Natural Resources and Recreation” to “Master Planned Community.” In short, the lek sits in the midst of this acreage where they want to build a 'planned community'. The birds would be gone if this happens. To even view these birds, you have to arrive before sunrise, stay in your vehicle and make no disturbances, since the Greater Sage-Grouse is very affected by human disturbance.  For more information about these special birds read Mia McPherson's blog post here. 

~ Or this article in the Examiner . 

Just Google Henefer Lek and you will see why this is so important. A SPECIAL place that hosts a very special bird.

So next Thursday, August 14 at 6:30 there will be a hearing in Morgan to decide whether the county will approve the re-designation. PLEASE attend if you can. I am working on car pools, since this is an hour+ drive from my home in Sandy. Email me if you are interested

Here is the latest information from Rahul (you can find more information on this Facebook page as well

Hi everyone,

I spoke to Bill Cobabe a few days ago and he is the zoning administrator for the land which covers the lek. He told me that Yaryca LLC currently owns the land and that they are looking to sell off the land as it is in high demand for property developers. Yaryca is looking to sell off the land ASAP in fear that the sage-grouse may be listed as a federally protected species soon. If this were to happen, the developers would no longer be able to develop that land. Bill told me that there have been previous meetings concerning this lek but he hadn't been able to get the word out to people. He told me that there would only be 4 or 5 people that would attend the meetings and that the low attendance has caused Yaryca to somewhat ignore the concerns regarding the lek. Bill explained to me that the matter is quite urgent as there is not much we would be able to do after, if Yaryca sells the land. 

However, he said that a high attendance to the public hearing may make all the difference. This is a matter of concern because at the moment, our expected attendance for the hearing is very low and we only have a week left until the hearing! Therefore, I ask you all to please attend this public hearing. Your words will have an impact and thus we need your support! I would recommend that all of you state on the events page, whether or not you would be able to attend the hearing so that we have an idea of how many people will be attending and how many more people we would need to have for the hearing. ~ Rahul Mukherjee

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Update July 31

Received this comment from Bob so thought I'd post it. Also, Bob told me we have seen the juveniles as late as first two weeks of August downtown.

July 31 at 07:49 - 08:01 a.m. All three kids observed: Ace and Hunter remain best of buds, perched, more or less, side by side near the northwest shoulder level corner of the World Trade Center (formerly Eagle Gate Tower), while Skye was perched (and wailing) on a wide ledge close to the northwest corner on the Kirton-McConkie Building and then flying north along the east face of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and, then, to the north/northwest and out of view.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Couldn't Find the Kids.. But Found Swainson's Hawks!

I took a trip downtown this morning looking for our Juvies. I didn't see them or the adults. I stuck around for 30 minutes, then drove down to 100 South to look at the south faces of the tall buildings. Nothing.

So I made a stop by the McDonald's at 4500 S. and I-15, because I heard there was a nest of Golden eagles there in the trees just east of McDonald's. I found three juvenile Swainson's Hawks in intermediate morph stage. I am not smart enough to know that... I posted the photos on Utah Birding Facebook page and someone identified them for me. They are so big, like dogs sitting in the tree! Have to be twice the size of our Peregrine falcons. I had on my Sanuk sandals, all clean and pink and brand new (and not cheap either). I hadn't planned on being anywhere but a sidewalk. The only way to get this image was to climb the sandy dirt hill across the side street from McDonald's. I didn't even hesitate.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Photo

Shelly made this great image of Hunter, Skye and Ace yesterday looking out from the Key Bank building yesterday. The kids were playing on the World Trade Center (Eagle Gate) tower. So good to see them all together!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Update from Bob

Hello, I have been traveling to see family so haven't had time to post but here is a little update from Bob that came in while I was gone.

July 18:

Don, Valarie and I watched the kids this a.m. before 7:30. All three put on quite a show flying high - at one point, all three in the air together - all around and over the Eagle Gate Tower (World Trade Tower), Key Bank Tower, Zions Bank Tower, Gateway West Tower. What a wonderful spectacle in the cool temperature of the morning! FYI - according to my records, Ace and Hunter (63 days old) have been out of the nest box for 24 days on this date (July 18) and Skye (60 days old) has been out for 20 days on this date (July 18). Best time to check out flights early and late in the day ... when it's cool.

July 15:
Three kids downtown on the wing last evening as were spectators Valarie, Kat and I. Valarie and I were treated to an unsuccessful prey exchange between Dad and Ace in which a live starling was dropped only to be re-captured in mid-air by Dad. Ace resumed the chase and, theoretically, snatched the starling and consumed it above Johnny Rockets (large, brown canopy at the base of the Key Bank Tower). It was sooo cool to witness!

July 14:
Over the weekend, had a report of a strongly vocalizing peregrine at the Intermountain Medical Center. Long story made shorter: 

I visited today. Noticed that workers had removed the nest box once visible to the right (north) of the large blue letters that read (from State Street)  Intermountain Medical Center. Workers were busy cleaning, or painting, or "sealing" the wall below from a suspended platform.

Went over to the shaded, west face and what did I see? 2 adult peregrines: one perched on the mounting hardware that supports the sign and one on a letter. With the assistance of someone with their maintenance department, I was able to get a look into the nest box resting on the roof. Box filled with pigeon guano and a single pigeon egg. Is it possible that this pair is nesting elsewhere on the building, or somewhere nearby that facility? Answer: yes. So, if you have some time and/or live nearby, take a look. Maybe we're on to something good!

The nest box on IMC. 

I took this photo back in 2012 of a peregrine on the IMC letters on the East side.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Update on Dad and Kids

Update at 12:00pm: Bob saw all five around noon Saturday. Dad on COB, Mom and kids on Eagle Gate tower. Great to hear!! Skye seems to roam but always returns.

I have been traveling since Wednesday so haven't had time to share these updates... I'll post more as it comes in.

From Bob Friday after a video alert that Dad may have injured a foot, see video here

Hi, Folks - 

I observed Dad this a.m. perched upon a narrow, vertical column (one of his "spots") on the north face of the Zions Bank Tower. He appeared at first to be prone (not unusual for him - I think that he likes to hide there), but then stood for some time on both feet: neither leg/foot was hanging limply either to the front, or back. 

Next problem ... we experienced high winds last evening. Maybe, as a result, Skye, again. appears to be MIA. At this time, I've have not received a call from the observation deck hostesses that Skye is again trapped in an observation deck, pockets atop the tall Church Office Building, etc.! I'll keep looking through the day and let you know what I discover. 



P.S. Mary Anne - thanks, as per normal, for providing the footage that alerted us to a possible problem (i.e. showing Dad favoring the leg/foot)

P.S.S. yesterday, at about 2:02 p.m., all three young-of-the-year were perched on the sign (red-colored key icon/logo and words Key Bank) on the north face of the Key Bank Tower 


This was from Bob earlier this week.

Monday morning Hunter was captured where she was found trapped in the western observation deck of the tall Church Office Building. Immediately following her capture, she was released, again, below the beehive on the JSMB.

I was downtown watching the birds on Tuesday evening when I received a call from Church Security that a bird was tapped in the eastern observation deck of the tall Church Office Building. That bird, Skye, appeared to have re-damaged her upper bill so I took her to raptor rehabilitator Joann Stoddard for evaluation and a stay over night in her care. We're presently planning to apply an acrylic of some time (rather than something like Super Glue) to repair and stabilize the injured/damaged bill. If all goes as planned, Skye will be released as soon as sometime later in the day today, Wednesday, July 9. 

FYI -  It's important that Skye get back with the family as soon as possible to enable her to receive the training necessary via the adults to go forward: earn her wings, disperse to the wild, get on with life, thrive in the wild, etc..



P.S. Ace and Hunter looked fine early in the day today, Wednesday (0641-0738) + no one ever said that HellWeek(s) was easy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

More Photographs from M. Roberts

We've been treated to wonderful photos this fledge season, particularly from Marguerite Roberts. Here are a few more from the last few days. You can follow her on Twitter @mhrfoto.

I will have a few more of mine from this weekend to post tomorrow. Please stop back. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Evening at Falcon Central

We never look forward to July 4th, not knowing how the juvies will react to the noise. In my memory, the fireworks were never an issue, because they were far enough away to not be very loud. Well my memory was wrong! Maybe the laws have changed, but the type of fireworks being blown off by regular folks in their yards was significant. All was well until about 10:00p, then with the first explosion one juvie came of COB wailing and looking for Mom. We were a bit worried about Skye, since she'd been on the Eagle Gate all night and had not come around to where the rest of the family was sitting, on Eagle Gate and COB. It was getting very hard to see, but Kat saw her finally fly off EAST, which is not the direction we wanted her to go. She was seen flying over the Alta Club area and we lost track. I could see Bob get worried. We waited out the fireworks and thankfully she returned right after to roost on the NE corner of Eagle Gate. We soon after saw one of the other juvies flying in the sky above the streetlights and Zions. As we left we felt relieved that parents were still in the area to watch over the kids. Yesterday all were accounted for!

Here are a few videos from July 4th evening. The first is a little montage from our radio calls. The second is one of our beautiful carriages. The horse was not happy about fireworks either. Third is a little of the fireworks going off behind Skye's favorite building.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Special Photos from Volunteer, Rahul.

Sometimes people can really surprise you. This year Bob received a phone call from a high school senior asking if he could attend our volunteer 'training' and help during fledge week. Bob, of course, agreed.

I met Rahul for the first time as he carried Ace to the vestibule to be boxed for re-release on the Beehive. I could tell he was rather excited and I wondered how he became interested in this project but I never found the chance to talk to him.

This past Monday, I was on my lunch hour from work, chatting with June and Bob, under the tree at Falcon Central. I asked Bob about Rahul and 'how did a young man end up hanging out with all of us old folks, watching birds?' Bob said, 'Well, June knows the story better than I do.' Turns out Rahul is an avid birder (as are a lot of our original volunteers, like June) and a member of Great Salt Lake Audubon (GSLA). At just that moment, Rahul walked up the sidewalk to chat with us. When I told him I author this blog, he was excited to share a few photos. I asked about his camera (because the photos were so beautiful) and he told me that his photographs are being featured at the Salt Lake Library in January 2015 and that he has applied to study wildlife conservation at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. Wow. I have more hope for the next generation. Here is a little more in Rahul's own words and a few of his photos. Just amazing.

Rahul and Ace
Hello, my name is Rahul Mukherjee and I am a senior at Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. I am an avid birder, bird photographer, and a bird conservationist. I also lead birding field trips for Great Salt Lake Audubon (GSLA). I got to know about the peregrine falcons last year when I watched the live webcam. I was so enthralled by the falcon (Solo) that I used to watch the webcam all day long until the lights on the streets on South Temple turned off and I couldn’t see the falcon anymore. I found it especially fascinating that these falcons could live in this urban setting. Thus, I decided to join the Peregrine Falcon Watchpost Rescue Team this year so I could get a closer look at these falcons and help them fly. It’s amazing how these falcons can learn to fly so proficiently in such a short amount of time, especially given the fact that this urban setting makes it harder for them to fly. Looking back at my time with the Peregrine Falcon Watchpost Rescue Team, I can surely say that it has been the experience of a lifetime for me and I feel privileged to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of such a great project. 

My passion of birds first developed from my 9th grade biology class when I was assigned a bird project in which I had to take photos and record the vocalizations of 35 different bird species. I fell in love with birding so much that I ended up with about 70 bird species. I've since tried to develop this passion even further and I'm grateful for an organization like GSLA that has really given me the opportunity to do something I love. I'm also grateful for the amazing community of Utah birders. Although we are mostly all strangers to one another, we share a common passion of birds. I sometimes imagine that if activities like birding or music were brought out to all the people in the world, our world would be completely devoid of all its problems because activities like birding and music appeal to the human emotion. Therefore, no matter how a person is, there is no reason why that person wouldn't be affected by these activities. If these activities were made accessible to everyone in the world, this world would be a better place. I hope to continue on with this passion as I progress through college and throughout the rest of my life.

Do yourself a favor. Click on these photos to open them in their larger size.
"The City through a falcon's eye"
Note that you can see the rescue box, security guard, Rahul, JSMB and part of Eagle Gate tower under the awning.

Ace in the tree - Day 1

Hunter on Alta Club ~ I believe this window is leaded glass.. thus the wavy appearance.


Adult female on Church Office Bldg. ledge

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Urban Falcons and Bob Walters

I meant to post this yesterday but then Skye went missing and all my well-laid plans blew up. I work in a building the next block over from Falcon Central and during this time of year I always bring my field glasses so I can take a quick peek during my lunch hour or walking over to my building. I try to call him for an update mid-morning. When I called yesterday, he had just lost track of Skye. Then when I called back at noon, he told me about the sighting up on First Avenue, which is a maze of driveways, nooks, balconies etc. I spent my lunch hour helping search, to no avail. A large group came down last night and this morning and searched again. Anyway, you know the rest. She was found just after I left the site today on the building across the street. Yippee!  (BTW, it's getting very hot here mid-day, 93 today!)

So now I can finally get to the post from yesterday. I think I mentioned that we had Brian Grimmett, filmmaker and director on hand for our fledges this year and he promised that he would share his work when it was finished up. We really didn't have a clue what sort of mini-documentary he was making or the message. Well here it is and wow, is it beautiful and moving, at least for me. Congratulations, Brian, and THANK YOU, from all of us.

You will hear our Bob Walters talk about the falcons and I just love his whole message. Bob is such a great guy and he's perfect as the show-runner for this project. Sometimes if you ask the right questions, the knowledge that is shared is so wonderful. I have learned so much from him. He's always referred to this project as 'the greatest show on earth'.

And now this little film, Urban Falcons.  Enjoy!

(click on the photo or caption and it will open the site in a new window)

Urban Falcons

I am also including a photograph of little Skye from a few days ago. So glad she's found and the area by her favorite building. Please come back later this week. I hope to have another Q&A and post about some of our great volunteers.

Skye, Sunday morning, you can see a little white fluff.

You can just make out a volunteer in the center, watching from a bench straight across from Skye's building on the right.

This is Bob's sidewalk display.
p.s. Mostly I have no idea what I'm doing with my SLR camera, but sometimes I get lucky. Sunday morning, photographing Skye, luck was with me.

Skye Was Lost, But Now She's Found

I will write a longer post later tonight but just an update on Skye. The last 24 hours we lost track of her and she was seen up near First Avenue. Volunteers were out in droves last night and this morning. Our volunteer, Jo, spotted her on a building just to the south of Temple Square. She seems fine! Happy dances!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Quieter Day

A couple notes I took today: When the first volunteer arrived at 6:30-ish, she saw a bird fly over her head from the north of the garden area and try a landing on the Administration Bldg. It fluttered to the base of one of the columns which is a ledge that is still rather high for humans to climb up to. Bob hoisted Kat up, she grabbed up Skye and they released her again on West side of Beehive where she is currently. The other two are flying and landing so high now, that we can't tell who is who. So, one is on SW corner of COB, the other is on west side of Eagle Gate (World Trade Center) building somewhere.

I also received this note from M. Roberts, the generous photographer who has spent some time with us, and was with Bob very early this morning.  Hunter and Ace flew around. Then Mom & Hunter flew several circles. Hunter went around more times. Then Mom was at the corner of COB and Hunter flew right to the wall and clung to it.. no ledge. Then she inched up a bit to a ledge..
Another note: Yesterday afternoon as I left, I saw THREE peregrines on the observation deck on COB East side. They seemed to be grabbing at something, then one flew off. At same time a volunteer said that a juvenile was on NW corner. Skye was in the box on the ground so that means Dad was there. Sure enough, it was confirmed later that Dad was laying down on the big 'B' in Key Bank on the north side of Key Bank building. This morning he has not been seen. Perhaps he brought in a meal last night... my guess is that was Ace up on that deck with Mom and Dad. He sure seems to get all the meals. 

I hope to have a special post at the end of this week. Stay tuned!

Is this not the craziest thing you've seen today? Hunter clinging to the wall.

Uh, no, this is even crazier.

Just remember how tall this building is and she was doing that crawl at the top. That glass structure on the top right is where I saw possibly Dad, Mom and maybe Ace last evening.
Dad on Key Bank 'B'

Skye just before trip up to Beehive.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Skye Banded - Sunday's Photos

Skye made a couple of small flights back and forth across S. Temple today, getting herself trapped on a terrace. Bob was able to get a security guard to let him in the Eagle Gate building to access the area, so Skye was picked up, banded and put out on the Beehive this afternoon. I have no news if she has made any flights from there. Hunter and Ace have been flying well all day making flights from Eagle Gate to COB and back. I will not be on site Monday and Tuesday but will post an update each day on any news.

Here are photos from today.

This is the ledge Skye spent the night on. This is where she was when I arrived at 8:45. She then began her walk to the East (left) and around the corner all the way to the south end of the building back to her original landing spot from Saturday.

Skye on NE corner of McConkie Bldg. 9:00 am

She was very close. I started to worry she was going to come after me! East side.

My camera was behaving so well in this light! SE corner.

She got tired of walking around on the ledge and rested a bit.

Bob's chair.

Ace and Hunter up on Eagle Gate Tower 11:30

Skye after she made her first flight today across to JSMB, another ledge walk.

She found a cool window sill to perch on. From here she flew back over to Eagle Gate and landed on the terrace/patio. Needed to be rescued since she couldn't seem to vault up to the ledge to fly out.
Not sure who, Hunter or Ace, flew over to University Club building for short time, then back to Eagle Gate.

Skye after being picked up on the terrace. First time in hand.