Since 1987, falcons have found a home on top of the tall buildings of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
September 13 - We are approaching that time of year when the falcons are rarely observed in the nest box atop the Mayo Building in Rochester. Without the eggs to incubate or young chicks to feed and protect, the adult peregrines start spending more and more time away from the box itself and more time throughout the entire city landscape.
Last week, one of the staff members for the Oral Maxillofacial Surgery department on the 12th floor of the Gonda Building happened to glance towards the windows and noticed one of the adults perched just outside the window! He was able to go back to his desk and snap this wonderful picture of the female Hattie, who was apparently taking an afternoon break. Over the years, Hattie has often been photographed and observed up close by patients and staff at the Clinic, which is quite the special gift during a workday or patient visit. Although we can't say for certain what Hattie might be thinking when she peers back at the people on the other side of the glass, it's obvious she doesn't appear to be very concerned about our presence. At times, it even appears that she's curious about the faces peering back at her.
We want to thank Tim Shorter for sharing this special image of Hattie with all of us on the falcon team. We would love to see any other images anyone might have of our special falcon family. You can email them to us at Peregrines@mayo.edu
September 9 - The falcons at Mayo Clinic are living up to their name "Wanderer" this month. The field team haven't observed any of the 2021 fledglings in the city since the 24th of August. Not to worry, this is the typical time of the year when Mayo's immature peregrines start their movements outside their natal territory. The adults Hattie and Orton are even found to be exploring the outer edges of the Rochester city. Over the past week they've been sighted from the northwest section of the city by the IBM campus to the south near the Willow Creek Country Club. This may seem like quite a distance to travel, but most peregrines will wander 10 miles or more from their nesting location duirng the non-breeding season.
Because the falcons are rarely found spending time in the nestbox now, we will be turning the camera off soon. We've had a great 2021 season and want to re-share one of our favorite images from this year's nesting season. Remember, keep your eyes to the skies...the 35th Year of Mayo Peregrines will be here before you know it!
August 25 - Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society continues to closely monitor the nest box video and conducts weekly in-person field observations in downtown Rochester, in hopes of determining the current status of Avalon's injuries. Avalon continues to favor the right leg, but still appears to have strong flights and appears to be bright and alert. The adults are observed spending time with Avalon on top of nearby buildings as well as the clinic campus itself. The image below is from yesterday afternoon, with her looking at "something" below her, showing how curious fledglings are.
August 13 - The Midwest Peregrine Society field team has been monitoring our nestbox site daily since it was first discovered that Avalon, one of this year's fledglings, appeared to be injured on August 9th. Although the adults Hattie and Orton have been found daily in the vicinity of the nest box or nearby area, Avalon has not seen until this morning. At about 11:19 am Avalon brought in a small bird to the nest box, but did not start eating nearly seven hours later in the afternoon. It also appears from reviewing the video tape that she is using the right leg and foot slightly more than she did on Monday. Both of these things are slightly incouraging, especially that she waited so long before eating. Avalon continues to look bright and alert, and we are continuing to evaluate how to best proceed with any potential intervention. We want to thank everyone for sharing our concerns about her welfare, and understanding that capturing her for any medical treatment is extremely difficult at this time.
The other three fledglings Hailey, Pippin, and Alteeza have not been observed in the downtown Rochester area since late July, and most likely have dispersed their natal territory, beginning the next step in their journey of independance from the adults.
The photo below is of Avalon from this afternoon, standing in the nest box.
August 10 - On Monday, August 9th, the female fledgling Avalon was found to be visiting the nest box atop the Mayo Building. After watching her for a while, we noticed that she wasn’t using her right leg normally. Although the foot does not appear swollen, it is apparent to the team that she injured the leg or foot because she doesn’t want to weight bear on the leg.
Due to the fact that Avalon appears to fly well, and we have no idea as to the extent of her injury, capturing her in order to do a more thorough assessment will be challenging in an urban location, and not something to be done without extensive thought and preparation. Peregrine coordinator Jackie Fallon will be on site daily to evaluate the situation and determine the best way to move forward, and capture her, if possible and determined to be safe. We appreciate everyone’s concern and will update everyone as new information becomes available.
July 22 - Recently a member of the falcon community sent us this image of Avalon, one of the female fledglings from the 2021 brood. It appears that Avalon was in pursuit of her dinner (i.e., pigeon), the most common prey item of urban peregrine falcons. As what often happens, the pigeon unfortunately collided with a building, with Avalon right behind it. Although the pigeon did not survive the collision, Avalon was able to get a full meal and gain further experience in hunting for herself, which will hopefully mean success in her future.
We would like to thank John Giesen for sharing the photo below with us.
July 13 - Nearly every day, three of the four fledglings continue to be seen with the adult parents, Hattie and Orton. However, since they are ranging farther and farther from the Mayo Building and nestbox, it can be difficult to tell which bird is which, other than identifying them as a male or female. The fledglings have now been "on the wing" for over five weeks and are continuing to gain skills with hunting and flight. We have even had reports of one of them catching a pigeon by itself! The fledglings will start to leave the downtown Rochester area by the end of July, and begin the next stage of independence and migrate to other parts of the Upper Midwest. We wish them good luck and hope to see them nesting in their own territory soon.
Thanks to Bryan Anderson for sharing this photo with us from his office window on Mayo 11. We can tell this is one of the females from her coloration and size, but unfortunately without seeing her left band, we can't say for certain whether it is Hailey or Avalon.
June 25 - The four fledglings continue to do well, exploring the downtown Rochester area and nearby buildings. It has now been three weeks since the first chick fledged, and they all appear to be making strides in gaining hunting skills and having "mock battles" with each other. Here you see the largest female, Hailey, resting on top of the box before taking flight again. It can be quite exhausting for these young birds performing all of their aerial antics, so they often rest flat in the shade or another safe haven.
June 17 - As of this morning we were able to see that the adults, Hattie and Orton, and three of the four fledglings were flying high above the downtown Rochester campus. The fledglings are now becoming more adept with their flight skills, chasing each other and their parents and making attempts at catching their first prey. It will still be several weeks before the fledglings will be successful in catching their own meals but the adults are always nearby, watching and providing food for them. The best time to see them on camera is early morning and later afternoon when they roost for the night near or in the nest box. Here you can see one of the fledglings on top of the nest box early this morning.
June 14 - All four fledges were back at the nest box last evening, as seen in this photo taken at 8:49 p.m. The fledges typically have left the nest box by sunrise each day. Pippin and Hailey spend the most time roosting at night in the box, where they feel safe.
June 9 - This photo was taken at 9 p.m. and shows all four the fledgings doing fine -- three in the box and one on the top, enjoying the view!
June 8 - As you can see from this photo, even though the chicks have fledged, they are still quite near the nest box. Notice the birds on the far left.
June 8 - Hailey fledged early this morning, before 5:30 a.m., leaving Avalon as the only occupant of the nest box (see photo). Avalon followed suit and fledged shortly after 7:30 a.m. If you look closely at the second photo, you'll see one of the fledglings on the roof of the nest box. It's very likely that Hailey and Avalon are staying close by, at least for a while.
June 7 - All four chicks are back in the nest box (as of 4 p.m.) Do you think the chicks are all looking at the same thing? It could be that they are looking at one of their parents, some prey, or a butterfly or another insect. Everything is interesting to them at this stage.
June 7 - All four of the chicks are doing well. This photo, taken about 7 a.m., shows Pippin on the roof of the nest box, while Altezza, Hailey and Avalon spend time on the deck. The females have not yet attempted to fledge.
June 4 - This photo shows that Pippin has returned to the nest box, spending time both in and on it, obviously capturing the attention of one of his sisters.
June 4 - We have fledge! Altezza, one of the male chicks, fledged at 5:22 a.m. today (see below), followed soon after by the other male, Pippin. The birds are probably very near the nest box; in fact, you may see one or both perched on one of the structures behind the box. The female chicks, Hailey and Avalon, remain in the nest box but could fledge any day.
Some viewers are concerned about the change in feeding habits observed recently. Orton and Hattie have continued to bring food to the nest box but now just drop it for the chicks to tussle over and consume. This is a natural and important part of what the chicks need to learn; they no longer need to be fed directly by the adults. Raptors, like these peregrine falcons, consume much of the water they need through the food they eat. The chicks have been well-fed since hatch, so they are well-hydated, too.
June 1 - Look how the chicks have grown and changed in appearance in just a few days. Here they are shown on the deck of the nest box, scanning the sky and waiting to be fed. They have only a few tufts of their white downy feathers still visible. The temperatures will be reaching the upper 80s and 90s in Rochester as the week continues, so you may see the chicks doing more open mouth breathing. We know this is concerning to see but they are actually doing well. The chicks can also retreat to the shade of the box if they get too warm. This is another reason why nest boxes are never facing west; we don't want the birds to get excessive sun without a place to retreat to.
May 26 - All lined up and ready for their photo op! Photo taken around 2 p.m. CDT.
May 26 - These four chicks are getting bigger and bolder, spending more and more time on the nest box deck and even flapping their wings. They are now nearly 50% brown in color as their downy fluff gives way to feathers.
This photo offers a better look at the brown color of the feathers. Notice the shadow of an adult peregrine on the left side.
May 24 - It's one week post-banding, and the four chicks continue to grow and change in appearance. They are also venturing out on the deck of the nest box, becoming more curious about the world beyond their immediate surroundings.
May 17 - It was an eventful morning for the peregrine falcon family at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
At around 10 a.m., the four chicks were removed from the nest box atop the Mayo Building and carried to a conference room for a physical exam, banding and naming. Jackie Fallon, Midwest Peregrine Society, banded the chicks and stated that all four are healthy and doing well. Names for the chicks were drawn from more than 800 submitted, and we're pleased to announce their names: females Hailey and Avalon; males Altezza and Pippin.
Each chick received a federal band on its right leg and a colored identification band on its left leg. The colored bands are more easily read than the federal bands so they are most helpful when trying to identify birds at a distance. The banding information for the four chicks is as follows: Hailey (female) - black over blue, band 23/X; Altezza (male) - black over blue, band 77/D; Avalon (female) - black over blue, band 24/X; Pippin (male) - black over blue, band 78/D. This information will be entered into the Midwest Peregrine Society database along with the chicks' names, banding date and other documentation.
Hattie and Orton aggressively defended the area near the nest box (below) as the chicks were removed and later returned. Team members with brooms protected the others from possible attack by the determined parents.
May 13 - This photo shows how, even when we can't see the adults on camera, at least one of them is usually nearby. Do you see the feathers of the adult on the left side of the photo? The adult is perched on the arm of the camera, keeping an eye on the youngsters in the nest box.
May 10 - One week away from our banding/naming event for these four fast-growing youngsters! We hope you can tune in on May 17 at 10 a.m. CDT via Facebook Live. We will also post a recording of the event on this site later that day.
May 6 - Four hungry chicks at feeding time, 3 p.m. CDT.
May 4 - Here's our falcon family, at 10:07 a.m. CDT.
May 3 - Feeding time at 5:45 p.m. CDT!
May 3 - Taken at 9 a.m. CDT, this photo shows the four chicks huddled near the middle of the nest box. The outdoor temperature is 55 degrees.
May 3 - This photo, taken on May 1, shows a black "mark" on the head of one of the chicks. Later observations showed that another chick has a similar mark. We're not certain what this is; it may be some debris. However, all four chicks appear to be doing well, and the last-hatched chick is catching up to its siblings in growth.
April 30 - In the first photo below, taken this morning, Hatttie is shading the chicks from the sun's heat. Even though the temperature is only in the 50s, the direct sun is warm and the chicks can't thermoregulate at this stage, so the adults do it for them.
This photo of feeding time today shows how quickly the chicks are growing. They are now double their hatch size!
April 28 - Fun family photo of Orton (toward the back) and Hattie, brooding the chicks.
April 27 - 2:15 p.m. - This photo shows the four chicks huddled toward the front of the nest box. The temperature is 53 degrees so they are comfortable for a few minutes on their own. Moments later, Hattie returned.
April 27 - The fourth egg hatched this morning, sometime between 6:40 and 9:00 a.m. The first photo below shows today's 10 a.m. feeding, with the newest arrival on the far left, behind its siblings, and the egg shell remaining nearby.
The photo below shows Hattie brooding all four chicks. The new arrivals will be brooded by the adults and fed every 2-3 hours. The chicks cannot stay warm on their own for another few days, depending on the weather. Don't be alarmed if the parents aren't covering their chicks for a minute or two when the weather cooperates. What happens to the eggshells? Hattie and Orton will remove them from the nest box.
April 26 - Three of the chicks hatched yesterday. As of 7:00 a.m. today, one egg remains and should hatch sometime today. Orton is doing a great job of delivering prey to the nest box for Hattie to feed the chicks. Both adults are brooding the chicks in between feedings.
April 25 - We have hatch! As of 6 a.m., one of the chicks had fully hatched and two were pipping (broken a small hole in its shell) and those two should hatch sometime today. In the photo below, you can see a piece of an egg shell toward the front of the nest box.
The first photo below shows Orton bringing food to the nest box. It is now his job to bring sufficient food to the nest box, and Hattie's job to feed the chicks.
In this photo you can clearly see the eggs pipping - the first breaks in the shell as the chicks begin to hatch - and the first chick that has already emerged. Note the broken piece of egg shell moved toward the front of the box.
April 14 - The weather in Rochester has been chilly this week. The temperature at 11:30 a.m. is only 33 degrees. But Hattie and Orton faithfully continue to incubate their four eggs. We anticipate hatch to begin around April 26-27.
April 8 - The photo below, taken at about 7:30 a.m., shows Orton taking his turn incubating the egg, making sure to delicately turn them with his beak.
April 6 - Viewers expressed concerned today after noticing that Hattie had left the nest box this morning. Mayo Clinic Facilities staff had to be on the roof to correct issues with the air conditioning unit seen in the background. Hattie stayed nearby and kept a watchful eye on the situtation. We are monitoring the scene and we don't expect any negative impact on the clutch of eggs.
March 31 - Here's a great photo showing the "incubation exchange." It's Hattie's turn for a break so Orton will take over in the nest box for a while.
March 26 - The morning sun is streaming into the nest box where Hattie is incubating four eggs. If all goes well, we can expect hatch in about 31 days.
March 24 - Hattie and Orton are now tending to four eggs in the nest box. This photo was taken at approximately 1:30 pm. It’s blurry due to rain in the Rochester area.
March 22 - This photo, taken at 9:00 am, shows three eggs in the nest box.
March 19 - Hattie laid her second egg at approximately10:30 this morning. Now we may see Hattie and Orton taking turns tending to the eggs in the nest box, but there will be times when neither bird sits on the eggs. Don't be concerned; Hattie will begin incubating the eggs after she lays her next-to-last egg. This timing helps all the eggs develop at roughly the same time to hatch in about five weeks.
March 16 - We have our first egg! This is the earliest date on which peregrines at Mayo have had eggs.
March 15 - Hattie spent some time in the nest box during the snowstorm that swept through Rochester and the surrounding area.
March 12 - This photo shows Hattie and Orton in the nest box.
March 12 - Viewers may have observed a tussle between Hattie and an unidentified female earlier this week. The photo (below right), taken around 10 a.m. today, shows Hattie at the nest box. Once again, she is successfully defending the territory, for the sixth straight year.
March 3 - A territorial battle was observed on March 3 at about 11 a.m. An unbanded adult female was vying for Orton's attention. Hattie did not tolerate the presence of another female and quickly gave her an escort out of the area. Territorial battles are quite common at this time of year as migrating birds come through the area.
February 23 - Orton is working on a scrape - a depression in the gravel - in the nest box. Peregrines use a scrape as a nest for eggs.
February 22 - As of 2/19/21, Jackie Fallon identified both Hattie and Orton as maintaining possession of the Mayo territory. This time of year, there can be quite a bit of change in occupancy, with the resident birds actively defending the box.
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.
- Patients on our Rochester campus may watch the falcon camera on the Mayo Clinic Television Network. Using the remote, select Mayo Information and scroll down to select Peregrine Falcons.
- Look up! In spring and summer, falcons are a frequent sight in the skies over Rochester.
When winter turns to spring, we 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 – Due to COVID-19 issues, we have canceled in-person "Meet the Falcon" programs in 2021. As an alternative, Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society will prepare brief videos to share more information about peregrine falcons.
May: Name those Chicks – After the eggs are hatched, it’s a Mayo Clinic tradition to name the baby chicks using suggestions submitted by our patients, staff, visitors and volunteers. Suggestions for falcon names are being accepted now through 4 p.m. CDT on May 13. Submit to HeritageDays@mayo.edu
Late May/Early June: Banding Day – We announce the names and young falcons receive their identification bands.
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 may migrate or remain in the area.
Year-Round: Check the online database of all banded Midwest peregrine falcons at https://midwestperegrine.umn.edu/?vw=search. Type “Mayo Clinic” in the search field to find falcons that were banded at Mayo.
Banding Day is a very special event in the lives of the young chicks. The falcon chicks are carefully removed from the nest box on top of the Mayo Building and brought to an indoor location. There, they are given a quick physical assessment, weighed, and a metal identification band is placed 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 birds to the nest box, their official names are announced. Submit your suggestions now until 4 p.m. on May 13 to HeritageDays@mayo.edu Be sure to include your contact information with your submission.
The 2021 Banding Event will take place on Monday, May 17, 10 a.m. CDT. All are welcome to watch via Facebook Live. Please check back for more details.
August 31 - It's difficult to share sad news: Nadya, the last of the chicks to hatch this year, was found badly injured at Carley State Park on August 25. She was taken to the Raptor Center in St. Paul, where it was determined that her injuries (severe soft tissue damage and necrosis of the left wing) were extremely serious and she was euthanized.
However, there is good news to report: our adult pair, Hattie and Orton (shown below), continue to maintain a strong bond, spending time in the nest box together and even forming another scrape (a depression in the gravel where eggs are laid). Orton is doing very well, having completely recovered from the injuries he sustained in July.
August 11 - Jackie Fallon reports that both Orton and Hattie have been seen at the nest box during the past few days, and all is well. We're happy to share this link to a video made by Axel Gumbel, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, showing the full story of Orton's release on August 7. Enjoy!
August 7 - We are pleased to report that Orton was successfully released from the 16th floor of the Plummer Building today at approximately 11:30 a.m. Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society and Chet Ellingson, a wildlife photographer, carefully transported him from the Raptor Center in St. Paul this morning. As Chet drove, Jackie held Orton on her fist as he was more comfortable there than on a perch. After arriving at the Plummer Building balcony, Jackie finalized preparations for release, then handed Orton to Tom Behrens from Mayo Clinic Facilities Management. Tom, who has led the Mayo Clinic Peregrine Falcon Program for almost 30 years, released Orton, "tossing" him into the wind on the south side of the building. Orton immediately took flight, heading toward the Mayo Building. Hattie had been keeping watch from the top of the Guggenheim Building, across the street from the Mayo Building, and she immediately flew nearby to determine that Orton was not a threat. Orville, one of this year's fledglings, took cover in the nest box until he was more certain that Orton did not pose a threat. According to Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society, Orton's release could not have gone more smoothly.
August 6 - Orton is ready to return home to Rochester and will be released from an upper floor of the Plummer Building tomorrow (August 7) at around 11:30 a.m. We will take photos of the event and will post them online as soon as possible. Keep an eye on the falcon cam during this time; you may see some activity and hear vocalizations of Hattie and the fledglings as they realize that Orton has returned.
August 5 - We are developing plans to release Orton from either the Plummer Building or the Mayo Building in downtown Rochester this Friday, August 7. We will share more details as soon as possible.
August 3 - We're happy to report that we have still not seen another adult male on territory so we're hoping that situation doesn't change. Orton is making great progress at The Raptor Center and discussions are underway regarding a potential release date in Rochester.
July 24 - Below is a photo of Nadya, taken today. If you recall, Nadya is the youngest and smallest of this year's brood.
July 17 - Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society is closely monitoring the activity of our peregrines while Orton is recovering at The Raptor Center. With Orton away, it's possible that another adult male could try to assume this territory, and that could cause problems for the three fledglings. So far, all is well and no other adult male has been seen on territory. Jackie captured these photos today, showing Hattie overseeing the situation, and Glory, who had been begging for food.
July 14 - We’re sorry to share the news that Annabelle, one of this year’s four fledglings, was found dead this morning on the ground next to the Mayo Building. She had a pigeon carcass right beside her, so our guess is that she was hunting and misgauged something in flight and hit the building. While this is difficult news, it is typical of the trials young falcons face during their first year. Experts estimate that three out of four falcons do not survive until their first birthday. Below are photos taken today of Annabelle’s siblings (Nadya, Glory and Orville) who are doing very well.
Glory and Nadya (above)
July 13 - All four fledglings have been seen around the nest box and are doing well. We have no further updates on Orton's condition but we are hopeful for a full recovery. The process will take several weeks and will eventually include exercise and careful evaluation to determine if he is well enough for release.
July 10 - We are happy to report that the four fledglings continue to do well, occasionally appearing on the nest box camera. Unfortunately, we do have some bad news about Orton, the breeding male. Orton was found Wednesday, July 8, running on the ground since he was unable to fly to the safety of a rooftop. He was captured by a local wildlife rehabber and transferred to The Raptor Center in the Twin Cities. He has suffered an injury to his keel (breastbone) and also has some soft tissue damage. Orton was very strong and healthy before his injury so it is hoped that he will have a speedy recovery and can be released in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates to be posted here.
June 30 - We're pleased to share these two photos showing Nadya exploring the surroundings on the roof of the Mayo Building. She is definitely curious about her world outside of the nest box!
June 25 - All four of the falcon chicks have now fledged. Nadya, the last chick to hatch, was the last chick to fledge, sometime yesterday afternoon. Occasionally you may see shadows above the box and you may hear lots of vocalizations because the chicks are nearby, but they will spend less time in the box as they now learn to fly and hunt.
June 21 - At 7:30 a.m. today, all four chicks were in the nest box, but by 10:00 a.m., two of the chicks had fledged. Annabelle and Orville were the two chicks to leave the nest box, and one of them later returned. This photo, taken shortly after 10:00 a.m., shows Glory and Nadya still in the box, perhaps watching their brother and sister trying out their wings.
June 11 - As the chicks continue to grow, they are becoming even more curious about the world beyond their nest box. If any one of them would happen to tumble off the ledge, there is a subroof about 20 feet below. In fact, when the chicks fledge, they typically land on the subroof below before attempting to fly above the box. This is the nature of flight.
June 9 - These photos show how quickly the four chicks are growing. Every day you can see more dark feathers on the chicks. Compare the photos to the one below, taken only one week ago! When the chicks aren't huddled together, you can also see the difference in development between the older three chicks and little Nadya, who hatched just 2.5 days later.
Falcon Banding/Naming Event at Mayo Clinic On June 3, 2020, four peregrine falcon chicks were banded and named at Mayo Clinic. This video takes you behind the scenes (and on the rooftop) for this important day in their young lives.
- Orville (male)
- Annabelle, Glory and Nadya (females)
The names Orville, Annabelle and Glory were chosen from the many names submitted to the Heritage Days email address in recent weeks. Jackie Fallon named the smallest chick Nadya, which means "hope" in several languages. Jackie, who has banded every chick that has fledged from Mayo Clinic, asked for the opportunity to name one chick to honor Mayo Clinic and all those who work here, particularly in these challenging times. Thank you, Jackie!
June 2 - This photo shows the four chicks, getting bolder each day and even venturing out onto the ledge.
May 27 - Now that the chicks are older, they no longer need to be kept warm by their parents but they still tend to huddle together in the nest box. They are growing rapidly and will be ready for banding and naming next week.
May 18 - We've had rainy days in Rochester but the falcon chicks are doing well in the nest box. Hattie and Orton are excellent parents!
May 15 - Great news! The fourth egg has hatched and all four chicks are doing well. You will notice that the last chick to hatch is definitely smaller than its three siblings who have had several days' headstart on eating and growing. You may also notice that Orton plays a significant role in caring for the chicks. He is an excellent provider and also takes his turn feeding the youngsters.
May 14 - The photo below shows the three chicks that hatched on May 12 and the unhatched egg. If that egg doesn't hatch sometime today, we can assume that hatch won't happen. You may recall that Hattie laid one egg earlier than the other three. Both Hattie and Orton had just survived some fierce territorial battles, and it's possible that the first egg was never fertilized.
May 12 - As the sun rose this morning, we could see that three of the chicks had "pipped" through their shells, getting ready for hatch. Shortly afterward, it was apparent that one of the chicks had already hatched. The first photo below shows the empty shell, and you can see the small white fluff of the chick tucked beneath Hattie.
The second photo shows Hattie with the first chick at about 10 a.m.
May 8 - All is well in the nesting box in spite of cold overnight temperatures in Rochester. We are looking forward to hatch any time next week!
April 27 - This photo, taken today, shows Orton rotating in the nest box, trying to keep the four eggs covered with his petite body. Remember, adult male peregrines are one-third to one-half the size of adult females.
April 13 - Hattie and Orton are taking turns caring for the four eggs in the nesting box. We anticipate hatch around May 13, so mark your calendars and keep an eye on the falcon cam.
April 11 - Sharing the good news that we now have four eggs in the nesting box.
April 8 - We have a third egg as of about 9:15 a.m.! This photo shows Orton standing guard.
April 5 - Hattie laid a second egg this evening at about 7:20 p.m.
April 3 - Typically falcons lay eggs every other day. There are several possible reasons that Hattie has laid only one egg so far. 1) The first egg may have been an anomaly and she will actually begin to lay again this weeked. 2) The stress of the fierce territorial battles may have taken a toll on the hormones of one or both of the adults. At this point, we are taking a "wait and see" attitude.
March 30 - Hattie has laid her first egg! The egg is brown/maroon in color and is situated near the front of the box. Hattie and Orton will not brood (incubate) the eggs until the second to the last one is laid so don't be alarmed if you see that the egg(s) are exposed at this point. Keep an eye on the falcon cam and visit this website often for more updates.
March 24 - This photo shows Orton at the nest box with a laceration above his beak. It was inflicted during the territorial battle last week. We will do our best to observe him to learn the severity of the laceration. In the past week, territorial battles in the upper midwest have resulted in injuries to several peregrines, including one injury that was fatal.
March 16 - Orton and an unidentified young male were engaged in a fierce territorial battle on March 14. The aerial battle lasted for about 1.5 hours. Orton was exhausted after the battle but it appears that he has won the territory. Orton and Hattie were both observed in the nest box on March 15.
March 6 - Orton (below right) has been seen often at the nest box. Hattie is more easily identified because she has scarring near her right eye from territorial battles in 2019. Female peregrines are also larger than males.
February 28 - Hattie and Orton spent the winter in the Rochester area and have been seen in and around the nest box. The photo shows them on the Gonda Building this morning.
Orton (below) has also been working on a scrape -- a depression in the pebbles where eggs can be laid.
Another female has been seen on territory and may be vying with Hattie for the nest box.
Please check this website often for more updates.
Meet The Falcon
with Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society
The entries below recap the events of the 2019 nesting season at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The adult peregrine falcons are named Hattie and Orton, the resident pair since 2016. Hattie is four years old and is named in honor of Hattie Damon Mayo, the wife of Dr. William J. Mayo. Her name means "keeper of the hearth and ruler of her household." Orton is a 5-year-old male. He fledged from City Hall in Minneapolis and is named for the Minnesota town where the rose granite used in City Hall was quarried.
June 20 - Blizzard was seen on the roof of the Mayo Building mid-afternoon, doing just fine and in close proximity to her parents.
June 19 - At 42 days old, Blizzard left the nest box at 7:30 p.m. for her first flight. During the past few days, Hattie and Orton had been working with her to prepare her for this adventure. We won't see the birds on camera as often now, but we may hear them as they teach Blizzard to fly and hunt for herself.
June 18 - Blizzard is often venturing out onto the ledge of the nest box and testing how the wind feels underneath her wings. She may attempt flight later this week.
June 12 - It's amazing to see how much Blizzard has grown and changed in color during the last week. Within the next week to 10 days, it's very likely that she will make her first attempts at flight.
June 5 - Blizzard is changing every day, and is curious about what is beyond the nest box. Don't worry; there is a ledge beneath the nest box that is not seen on camera. If Blizzard tumbles off the ledge, she won't fall very far.
June 3 - Blizzard is growing quickly! She is more speckled now and will become more brown in color over the next two weeks.
May 29 was a big day in the life of our falcon chick. At 21 days old, it was time for the chick to be banded and named. The chick was removed from the nest box and brought to Geffen Auditorium in the Gonda Building.
The audience watched as Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society attached an identification band to each leg of the chick. Jackie announced that the chick was a strong, healthy female. Logan Allison, a young falcon fan from Waterloo, Iowa, was invited on stage to draw a name from the more than 500 suggestions submitted, and the name "Blizzard" was chosen for the young chick. Blizzard was returned to the nest box where Hattie and Orton will continue to provide food as she prepares for fledge.
The chick is no longer in need of being brooded so Hattie and Orton are spending less time in the nest box now, except for times of feeding. Blizzard is also in less need of frequent feedings and we will begin to see her self-feed within the week.
May 22: The past few days have been windy and rainy, but Hattie and Orton are keeping the chick well-protected from the elements. Here's a look at feeding time at 9 a.m. today.
May 20: Our little one is growing fast. At 13 days old, the chick can be seen much more often on the camera as Hattie and Orton will sometimes leave it unattended in the nest box for short periods of time. The chick is quite curious about its surroundings!
May 13: It's been nearly a week since the first egg hatched and that chick is doing very well. Hattie diligently cared for and protected the young chick throughout the cold, wet weather we had last week. It appears that the other three eggs will not hatch; the eggs will be removed from the nest box on the date of the Banding Event, May 29.
May 7: The first egg has hatched!
April 29: Hattie and Orton are diligently caring for their four eggs, taking turns around the clock. If all goes well, we can expect hatch to begin around May 6.
April 4: Hattie and Orton now have four eggs to care for.
April 2: We now have three eggs in the nest box.
April 1: The second egg was laid over the weekend.
March 28: We have the first egg!
March 25: This photo (right) was taken around noon, showing Hattie and Orton at the nest box. We could see the first egg any day.
March 19: It appears that there are now only two birds on territory. Jackie Fallon from the Midwest Peregrine Society has confirmed that the female is Hattie and the male is Orton.
February 20: Three birds were observed on territory. Hattie and Orton were both back and actively defending the site from a third bird.
- 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.
A look at some friends from the Mayo Clinic Peregrine Falcon Program
Epic - Epic is one of two females that hatched from Mayo Clinic in 2017. (The male was named Lucky Lindy.) Epic was seen at The Colonnade in Golden Valley, Minnesota, in February 2020 but was displaced when the resident female (unbanded, approximately 7-8 years old) returned on March 1. Epic is now nesting at the Anoka-Champlin Mississippi Bridge in the Twin Cities area (see below).
Sota - Hatched from Mayo Clinic in 1994, he was found in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1998, nesting with a female named Meg. They stayed together until 2005. Then Sota partnered with Jill (at right) from 2006-2012. In his lifetime, Sota produced 34 chicks. Along with being a prolific father, he was quite a survivor, since when he was found in 1998 he was missing four of his eight toes (and doing just fine).
We suspect that frostbite caused the loss of the toes since he was known to spend winters in the city. The loss of the digits didn't cause him any difficulties. He was an excellent provider to his mate and offspring. Sota lived to be nearly 19 years old. (Photos copyright Midwest Peregrine Society and used with permission)
Triumph - Fledged at Mayo Clinic in 2013, Triumph was the father of three chicks (shown at right) in 2018 in the nest box at 33 South Sixth Street Tower (formerly International Multifoods Tower) in Minneapolis. Triumph had been spotted in downtown San Antonio, Texas, during the winter of 2017, and then he journeyed back to Minneapolis, where he and Genie had nested since 2016.
Generose - A 2017 fledge, Generose was found deceased in Marshalltown, Iowa, in October 2017.
Aurora - Fledged in 2008, Aurora has been the female on territory at the Washington University Medical Campus in St. Louis, Missouri.
Check the online database of all banded Midwest peregrine falcons at https://midwestperegrine.umn.edu/?vw=search. Type “Mayo Clinic” in the search field to find falcons that were banded at Mayo.
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.
Following World War II, the widespread use of pesticides, especially DDT, put many species of wildlife at risk. When DDT was banned in 1973, recovery efforts began for many threatened species, including the peregrine falcon. 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!
Enjoy this film about the falcons of Mayo Clinic: