And the Kodak Park Falcon Is…

Unity's Band  0439b ZoomThe peregrine falcon that has taken up residence at one of the Kodak Park buildings in northern Rochester defied all attempts at identifying her by her black and red ID band for over a year. The persistence of our watchers paid off in the end though. On New Year’s day Rochester Falconcam team member Joyce took some pictures which made an ID a near certainty, but out of an abundance of caution we waited for an opportunity for a clear photo in bright light.

This past Mother’s day was nice and sunny in Rochester. Joyce and fellow watcher “MAK” were back at it, keeping an eye on the falcon. When it flew to a nearby building and landed on an antenna they sprang into action, capturing the pictures you see below. The bird’s ID band is clearly visible, and we’ve confirmed that Rochester’s newest Peregrine-in-residence is Unity. Unity was hatched in 2009 at the University of Toledo in Ohio, several hundred miles west of Rochester. Her ID band is black over red 71/H. So welcome to Rochester, Unity!

Unity, photo by MAK

Unity, photo by MAK

Photo by Joyce

Photo by Joyce

Unity, photo by Joyce

Unity, photo by Joyce

Even better news is that she has a mate, and may be incubating eggs in a small alcove at the Kodak Park facility. The most surprising news though, may be just who her mate is. Our watchers are 99% sure that the male falcon who visits with Unity is none other than Archer!

The Kodak Park site is only about four miles from Beauty and Archer’s nest on the Times Square building. In fact, the KP site is visible from the Kodak tower and from the upper floors of the taller buildings in downtown Rochester. Watchers stationed at Times Square and Kodak Park have tracked Archer’s comings and goings, and the pattern appears to be very consistent; When Archer is at Times Square there is no male at Kodak Park. When the male is at Kodak Park, Archer is never present at Times Square. This could all just be a weird coincidence, but Archer has some distinctive markings such as a white-tipped feather on his right wing that’s nearly a dead giveaway. The male banded falcon at Kodak park has an identical light feather on his right wing. The chances that there could be two males at nest sites only a few miles apart in the same city, with the same distinctive field marks, are– Well let’s just say they’re awfully small. Archer and Unity have been observed copulating and performing all of the activities one would expect of a mated pair of Peregrines including courtship flights and territorial defense against other raptors wandering into the area.

It’s not unheard of for a male to mate with different females at multiple nest sites, though it certainly isn’t the norm. Archer spends more of his time downtown than at Kodak Park, so it will be interesting to see how well he is able to provide for two families, assuming that there are young hatched at both nest sites. We’ve informed the DEC about Unity’s identification, and we’ve also sent word to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to let them know that their girl has found her way here. We are hopeful that the DEC can work with Kodak to install a nesting box or platform at the KP site, and we’re ready to lend our assistance if its requested. In the meantime our crack staff of watchers will continue to keep an eye on both Times Square and Kodak Park to see what develops in this very interesting drama.

UPDATE! From our friend Kate St. John at the University of Pittsburg comes word that both Unity and Beauty are related! Dorothy, Beauty’s mother, is Unity’s grandmother. That makes Rochester’s resident falcons aunt and niece.

8 Responses to “And the Kodak Park Falcon Is…”

  1. margaret says:

    Great report. Everything that has been alluded to in the forum, is perfectly clear in this post. The pictures of Unity are great.
    Thanks, Joyce, MAK, and Carol P for your perseverance and dedication.

  2. Brenda in Florida says:

    It’s a PF Soap Opera!

    Great ID work, thanks all.

  3. Alison says:

    Oh drat, bigamy rarely works out well for the offspring.

  4. Pam says:

    fascinating!!

  5. Maureen in MA says:

    Great report, thank you! I agree with @Alison about bigamy and offspring. Hopefully this story has a happy ending. Definitely a PF Soap Opera!! ;-)

  6. eyelook says:

    Well, I for one, am scandalized!

  7. Alison says:

    Well, just now it looks pretty easy for Archer. He broods a while at Times Square and when Beauty comes back to take up duty, he heads over to Kodak Park to brood a while on Unity’s eggs. He is getting plenty of rest in this phase. What will be a problem is when there are eyases, even only one or two in each nest and he is expected to hunt and bring home birdies for scrapes that, while close, are not one. A single, good-sized bird can be fed to a batch of eyases in one place, but in two places, two birds will be required and the females (who are also excellent hunters, of course) do not hunt a whole lot when the first hatches are underway.

    I find it very interested that our two falcons are of a single family. I wonder what traits of Dorothy can be discovered in each of them?

  8. Jess says:

    @Alison – A pretty scrappy disposition seems to be one trait they inherited (if the two fighters at Kodak Office were indeed Beauty and Unity… see the latest Imprints post for details)