Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rare Peregrine Falcons Found in Downtown Springfield

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rare Peregrine Falcons Found in Downtown Springfield

Article excerpt

Pigeons beware: There's a couple of new birds on the block who might like you for dinner.

A pair of rare peregrine falcons have unexpectedly arrived in downtown Springfield - and the Illinois Department of Conservation is pleased, though local pigeons might not be too happy.

"It's encouraging the falcons find Springfield a good place to stay," said Conservation spokeswoman Anne Mueller on Wednesday.

The falcons apparently are nesting at two sites downtown.

The state- and federally protected birds, which arrived in Springfield in mid-February, are nesting in wooden boxes on the top of the Ridgely Building, at Fifth and Monroe streets, and the Central Illinois Public Service Co., Sixth and Adams streets, Mueller said.

After they were noticed in Springfield, Conservation decided to assist their nesting efforts by placing the wooden boxes on the buildings.

"For a long time, we thought there was only one (falcon) because they hadn't been seen together," Mueller said. "Both were seen together at the end of February, but they haven't been seen together since."

The predatory falcons can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when they dive to catch pigeons and starlings, which are their main prey, Mueller said.

Pigeons and starlings have been a problem for years downtown and at the Capitol, so the falcons may turn out to be Mother Nature's answer to urban pest-control efforts.

Officials "have been trying to get rid of the pigeons uptown," said David Bohlen, an assistant zoology curator at the Illinois State Museum. "And these birds will definitely help them out."

The grayish-blue falcons apparently migrated from other areas of the state, where state officials are trying to reintroduce them. The falcons have been absent from parts of the state for a long as four decades, Mueller said.

Both of Springfield's falcons are tagged, but Conservation officials can't get close enough - even using binoculars - to tell exactly where they came from. …

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