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.
Latest Update: All three eggs have hatched, and Hattie and Orton are now busy caring for their chicks, feeding them and keeping them warm. If all goes well, we will band and name the chicks during a special event on Thursday, June 1. Scroll down for more details, and in the meantime, enjoy watching the activities of this new family of falcons.
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!
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.
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, or submit your ideas for male, female and gender-neutral names to HeritageDays@mayo.edu before 5 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, May 30.
June 1: 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.
2017 Nest Box Updates
See all updates from the 2017 nesting season:
May 10 - Mayo welcomed its first chick of the 2017 nesting season. The other two eggs will, hopefully, hatch over the next day or two. If all goes well, we plan to band and name the chicks in about three weeks. Stay tuned for details on the date and time, but for now, enjoy watching Hattie and Orton care for their chick.
April 5 - May 10 - Hattie and Orton are actively incubating their three eggs. The female does most of the incubation of the eggs, only getting off them briefly for a few hours each day. During that time, Orton takes over the duties to keep the eggs at a constant temperature. While Hattie is busy keeping the eggs warm, Orton does all of the hunting for himself and the female. Three to four eggs are the typical number laid in the clutch. With Hattie and Orton, true incubation began when egg #2 was laid on April 2. We can expect hatch to occur approximately 33 to 35 days later, so keep an eye on the falcon cam around May 5. It can take up to 24 to 36 hours for a chick to full hatch once it has "pipped" through its shell.
April 2 - Hattie laid a second egg this evening. She now seems to be staying closer to the nest box.
March 31 - Hattie laid her first egg at 12:54 p.m. We will be monitoring to see if more eggs are on the way!
March 27 - A puncture wound below Hattie’s right eye appears to be healing. There is no sign of the other female on territory.
March 24 - Observed an injury on Hattie’s right eye. We will monitor it for infection.
March 13 - A territorial battle was observed: Hattie and an unbanded adult female are vying for this nest box.
- 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!
Name the Falcon and Banding Day - June 1, 2017
Thursday, June 1, 2017
12 noon - 1 p.m.
Geffen Auditorium, Gonda Building subway level
Banding Day is a very special event in the lives of the young chicks. Naturalists working with the Mayo Clinic team will carefully remove the falcon chicks from the nest box on top of the Mayo Building and bring them to Geffen Auditorium. There, they will give them a quick physical assessment and add a metal identification band around each fledgling's leg. Each band is uniquely lettered and numbered so that if the falcons are observed later, they can easily be identified. Before returning the bird to the nest box, they will receive their official names, chosen from the many suggestions submitted. Submit your suggestion for male, female and gender-neutral names to HeritageDays@mayo.edu through Tuesday, May 30.