Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mississippi River Peregrine Falcons: Great News for Cliff Nesting Falcons

Tuesdays must be the lucky day to find falcons on the river cliffs. On 4/8/08 we located two adult falcons defending Pepin Heights cliff just south of Lake City, MN. On 4/15/08, I spent the entire day surveying river cliffs and was most pleased to find two adult falcons defending a small cliff just north of the town of Minneiska, MN.

It appears that falcons are now taking to smaller or secondary cliffs. However, the one constant is that all cliffs with falcons tower directly over open water. Will this change when all cliffs directly facing water are occupied?
The following is a list of cliff sites with falcons on territory.
  1. West Bluff near Maiden Rock, WI: Historic eyrie with falcons back for the third time.
  2. Maiden Rock: The matriarch of river cliffs. Purchased and managed by the West Wisconsin Land Trust.
  3. Maassen’s Bluff: Four miles north of Alma, WI.
  4. 12 Mile Bluff: On the south end of the town of Alma, WI.
  5. Castle Rock: Across the river from Winona, MN.
  6. Lynxville, WI cliffs: The falcons are back on Larson’s Bluff.
  7. Lock and Dam 9: This is the third year for this small cliff to attract falcons. It’s interesting to note that in 2006 there was an adult male paired with an immature female. 2007 an adult male paired with an immature female. 2008 adult female, immature male.
  8. Fountain City: Two adults taking to the nest box mounted to the cliff in 2006.
  9. John Latsch: Adult falcons present. Bandings carried out by Raptor Center.
  10. Queen’s Bluff: South of Winona, MN Bandings carried out by Raptor Center.
  11. Homer cliff near Homer, MN: Two adult falcons defending
  12. Great Spirit Bluff: South of Dresbach, MN.
  13. Leo’s Bluff, Waukon Jnct, IA: The two adult falcons at this cliff have moved to a new cliff just upstream from Leo’s Bluff. This is the third time the falcons have moved upstream. Dan Berger jokes that this is the result of global warming.
  14. Pepin Heights 1: We confirmed falcons on this cliff on 4/8/08. On 4/15/08 I saw them carry out a food transfer. The winds were too strong to attempt to read bands on the top of the cliff. I even got a creepy feeling while standing on the top of this bluff being buffeted by 30+ winds.
  15. Hussen’s Bluff near Minneiska, MN: I confirmed two adult falcons on this small cliff yesterday morning. I met with the land owner who is excited about his falcons.
Cliffs that have had some falcon activity
  1. Twin Bluffs: Near Nelson, WI. Two falcons were present on early visits to the cliff but on 4/8/08 no falcons were observed. This same day, two falcons were observed at the Wabasha Bridge. The owners of this cliff have asked us to install a nest box on the cliff wall.
  2. Trempealeau, WI: Falcons were observed several times in 2007. We have not seen falcon activity as of this writing in 2008.
  3. Brownsville, MN: There are two cliffs south of Brownville that have in past years attracted single falcons.
  4. Alma Marina cliff: This is a historic cliff nest site for the peregrine falcons. Dan Berger working with Fred and Fran Hamerstrom trapped an adult female falcon below this cliff in the early 50’s. We’ve seen falcons at this cliff several times over the years however, last year and, this year, Great Horned Owls are nesting in the one prominent eyrie.
  5. Goose Island cliff: We have had falcons visit this cliff off and on over the last few years. The land owner who lives near the base of this cliff will let us know if falcons are seen once again.
  6. Hastings cliff: Falcons have nested in the nest box mounted to the small cliff and also on a nearby bridge. I have not heard what site the Hasting falcons are using this season.
Bob Anderson
Director, Raptor Resource Project