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Published: Friday, 5/14/2004

Pair of Lima falcons add 4 chicks to rooftop nest

With a parent peregrine flying by, state biologists Bill Roshak and Scott Butterworth check the status of four falcon chicks born days ago on a downtown building in Lima. With a parent peregrine flying by, state biologists Bill Roshak and Scott Butterworth check the status of four falcon chicks born days ago on a downtown building in Lima.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

LIMA, Ohio - When state biologist Bill Roshak flashed thumbs-up followed by four fingers yesterday, Connie Miller and Rosie Roberson started to cheer.

The signals meant that Lima's first nesting pair of peregrine falcons indeed had four white, downy chicks in their nest atop the National Bank Building downtown.

"I'm so excited. Yeah, four chicks," Ms. Roberson said. "Oh, we've waited a long time for chicks."

The once-endangered cliff birds made their first Ohio nest in Toledo in 1988. Since then, peregrines have taken up residence in 15 other Ohio sites - mostly tall buildings in urban centers - but the falcons that arrived in Lima in 1998 had never been successful nesters.

"I've got a theory about that," Mr. Roshak said after checking out the nest yesterday afternoon. "I think there possibly could've been some infertility problems with the first pair, but because they were occupying the site no other birds could come in."

Lima's current resident couple - Majestic and Intimidator - were 1-year-old newlyweds last year. They don't usually nest until they're 2, and sure enough, the pair came through this spring.

It was exciting news for Ms. Miller, whose insurance agency on the 12th floor of the Bank One Building gives her a bird's-eye view of the falcons. She has been watching them with interest for the past six years and frequently brings her telescope to keep an eye on the birds.

"They fly by here all the time," she said.

Ms. Miller said it was obvious to her that the chicks had hatched this week when the female, who had been hunkered down in the nest box for a month, was suddenly hovering off the box and the male was bringing extra dead birds home for dinner. The chicks arrived just a few days after Toledo's chicks hatched.

Mr. Roshak, who works in the Findlay office of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources's Division of Wildlife, was in Toledo earlier this week to check out those chicks. He found the falcon parents in Toledo far more aggressive.

"When I was in Toledo, the female wouldn't move. She was bouncing off my hard hat," Mr. Roshak said.

In Lima, Majestic and Intimidator only circled the roof and called out loudly as Mr. Roshak and fellow biologist Scott Butterworth donned red hard hats and yellow shields and took a look inside the nest. Mr. Roshak snapped a picture or two of the five to seven-day-old chicks, saying they looked like "a blob of white."

The chicks will begin to fly at about seven weeks and by late summer will set off on their own, likely headed to South America, Mr. Roshak said.

"The adults more than likely will return next spring unless something happens to one of them, which is not uncommon," he said. "But they usually find a new mate pretty quickly."

ODNR staff members plan to return to Lima when the chicks are about three weeks old to band them for future identification and tracking purposes.

- Jennifer Feehan



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