Once again, nesting peregrine falcon family making Eberhard Center home

It took a while for peregrine falcons to find the special nesting box installed for them at the Eberhard Center, but as the newly hatched chicks this week show, it suits them.

Observers first noticed the hatching process underway on May 3; by May 4, three chicks were observed. And on May 5, a fourth chick was observed.

The box high above the Grand River was installed in 2009 by Todd Aschenbach, associate professor of biology, and a team of students. Webcams were installed a year later, but there was no nesting activity until 2017.

Peregrine falcon chicks are fed by an adult.
An adult feeds chicks on this picture from May 4. A fourth chick has since hatched.
Image Credit: Courtesy photo

Grand Valley experts said once falcons start using a box, they are likely to return. Observers at grperegrines, a site that tracks the raptors in Grand Rapids and identifies the birds from their bands, said the same female has returned this year.

They also report that she has paired with a new male, one that hatched in 2018 at the Port Sheldon Power Plant near Lake Michigan.

Michael Lombardo, professor of biology, has noted that with some power plants along the lakeshore taken out of service, boxes like the one at Eberhard are even more important for the birds that like to nest in high spots.

For now, the chicks are white balls of fur who are keeping their parents busy hunting for meals; their parents will use a swoop that can reach more than 200 mph to catch prey, typically birds.

It won't be long before the chicks match that fierceness. Lombardo has explained they quickly become independent. They grow fast and will fledge in a little over a month.

A peregrine falcon parent feeds chicks.
A peregrine falcon parent feeds chicks in this image from May 4. There are now four hatchlings.
Image Credit: Courtesy photo