Mayo Clinic Peregrine Falcon Program – Celebrating 30 Years

Since 1987, falcons have found a home on top of the tall buildings of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

During nesting season (approximately mid-March to late June), this page features a live camera with 24/7, real-time views of where they live and raise their young. Throughout the year, this page features a film about peregrine falcons and their activities at Mayo Clinic.

Meet the Nesting Pair

The male and female falcons seen in downtown Rochester were new to our territory in 2016.

  • The female is banded (b/r D/35) and has been named "Hattie" in honor of the Mayo Clinic Peregrine Falcon Program's 30th anniversary. "Hattie" was the name of the wife of Dr. William J. Mayo, one of the founders of Mayo Clinic.  The name means "keeper of the hearth, ruler of her household."  "Hattie" fledged in 2015 from the Mayo Building on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  This is her second year at our Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, MN.
  • The male fledged in 2014 from City Hall in Minneapolis, Minn. He is banded (b/r N/46) and named "Orton" after the town where the rose granite used in the building was quarried.  "Orton" is lighter in color than the female, noticeable by his bleach, white chest. 

We're hoping this young couple enjoys "building their nest" in Rochester!  

2017 Calendar

In addition to this website, here’s how you can find out more about the falcons:

  • Monitor and informational display in the subway (below-ground) level of the Mayo Building in Rochester, Minnesota, next to the patient cafeteria.
  • Channel 199 and 706 (HD) on the Mayo Clinic Television Network for patients on our Rochester campus.
  • Look up! In spring and summer, falcons are a frequent sight in the skies over Rochester.

As winter turns to spring in 2017, we will be ready to follow the falcons throughout their nesting season:

Early February: Settling In – One male and one female falcon take up residence in the nest (actually, a special box we built for them) on the roof of the 20-story Mayo Building. Between late March and mid-April, the female lays 2 to 4 eggs.

Early to mid-May: A New Generation – Eggs typically hatch 35 days after they are laid. They grow rapidly and fledge (make their first attempt at flight) at about 6 weeks of age.

Meet the Falcon – From 9 to 11 a.m. on the Mondays in the late spring/early summer, naturalists from the Midwest Peregrine Society will visit Mayo Clinic with an adult falcon.

2017 Dates

April 3, 10, 17 and 24

May 1, 8, 15 and 22

June 5, 12 and 19

Please note that this program is intended for Mayo Clinic patients while they are on campus to receive care and Mayo employees. Due to issues of privacy and security, we cannot accommodate tour groups and members of the public.

May: Name those Chicks – After the eggs are hatched, it’s a Mayo Clinic tradition to name the baby chicks. Submit your suggestion at the exhibit in the Mayo Building subway, then watch this site for your chance to vote on male, female and gender-neutral names for this year’s chicks. 

Early June: Banding Day – We’ll announce the names and young falcons will receive their identification bands. Please note that this program is intended for Mayo Clinic patients while they are on campus to receive care and Mayo employees. Due to issues of privacy and security, we cannot accommodate tour groups and members of the public.

Summer-Fall: Follow the Falcon – The young falcons progressively develop under the watchful eyes of their parents, until they take flight to pursue independent lives. The parents, which mate for life, depart as well.

Year-Round: Check the online database of all banded Midwest peregrine falcons at http://midwestperegrine.umn.edu/?vw=search. Type “Mayo Clinic” in the search field to find falcons that were banded at Mayo.

Falcon Facts

Mayo Clinic Falcon Program

  • The peregrine falcon is a raptor – a bird of prey that hunts and feeds on other animals, typically birds. 
  • The peregrine falcon is a crow-sized bird (1-2.5 lbs.) with long, pointed wings. Young birds, which are brown and cream colored, are heavily marked with streaks. Adults have a blue-gray back with a light, striped underside and a dark-colored head.
  • Its Latin name, Falco peregrinus, means “wanderer.”
  • The male is about one-third to one-half smaller than the female.
  • The birds typically mature at two years and can live to nearly 20 years old.
  • Peregrine falcons can migrate more than 15,000 miles per year. 
  • The peregrine falcon is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, able to reach speeds over 200 mph in spectacular dives called a “stoop.” It lives on every continent except Antarctica.
  • The falcon has long been associated with European and Middle Eastern royalty. Records of the sport of falconry (using a trained raptor to hunt wild game) date back more than 4,000 years.
  • Historically, the peregrine falcon preferred to nest on high cliffs near water. Today, the bird is also found on towers, bridges, and tall buildings such as those found on the Mayo Clinic campus in downtown Rochester.

Mayo Clinic and the Stewardship of Nature

The Mayo brothers, Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie, often said they grew up in medicine “the way farm boys are taught to farm.” All their lives, they shared a deep appreciation of nature. Dr. Will was an early advocate of efforts to clean the Mississippi River. Dr. Charlie made Mayowood, his country home, a preserve for many species of wildlife. The Sisters of St. Francis, who founded Saint Marys Hospital and are active in many activities at Mayo Clinic and beyond, uphold a reverence for nature.

When DDT was banned in 1973, recovery efforts began for many threatened species, including the peregrine falcon. In a program that has grown steadily over the years, captive-bred chicks are released, monitored and tracked as they learn to fly and become independent.

At the invitation of the not-for-profit Midwest Peregrine Society, Mayo Clinic began hosting the falcons in 1987. Mayo’s Peregrine Falcon Program is a popular annual activity, involving the support and collaboration of many colleagues. Some patients tell us they schedule their medical appointments in order to be on campus when the falcons are in residence!

2016 Highlights

During the spring of 2016, we welcomed a young couple to the nest (actually, a custom-built box) on top of the 20-story Mayo Building. The unnamed female hatched in the spring of 2015 from the Mayo Building on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Her mate, Orton, age 2, fledged from City Hall in Minneapolis. Falcons this young, while fully adult, are less likely to produce eggs when they mate, which was the case in 2016.

Nevertheless, patients and staff of Mayo Clinic – and friends around the world – enjoyed watching the couple on our live camera, which premiered this year. Online and at the display in the subway level of the Mayo Building, we received comments such as:

It was a pleasure to welcome Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society for our “Meet the Falcon” sessions in April, May and June. Many people stopped by to get a close-up view of the falcon and ask questions.

Falcons mate for life, so we wish our feathered pair many happy years – with little ones to enjoy – in the future. Nature will determine whether this couple or another pair of peregrine falcons will return to Mayo Clinic in 2017. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Jackie Fallon, Mayo Clinic staff and volunteers, and specialists from outside Mayo Clinic who made this such a positive experience.

  • Beautiful birds! Thanks for allowing us to see them up close!
  • This is awesome! It uplifts our days here. What a great program! Thanks for helping save peregrines.
  • Wonderful teaching program and display. Falcons are “our friends.”

 

Enjoy this film about the falcons of Mayo Clinic:

Mayo Falcon Program Promo