The 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!
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.