For the second straight year, peregrine falcons are back and nesting in downtown Salt Lake City. This is a great opportunity to see the rare birds, even for those living in Carbon and Emery counties.
This is the second consecutive year that falcons have nested downtown since they last nested in the area in 1996.
"It was bound to happen, and I'm just thrilled that they've returned to the big city to once again dazzle downtown spectators," said an elated Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Judging by brief glimpses and observations of activities within a nest box on the east face of the Deseret Building at 100 South and Main streets, Walters says it appears three to four 3-week-old falcons have hatched. Peregrines use alternate nest sites in the wild, so it's not an unexpected surprise that the falcons have switched from the box they used at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building last year to using the Deseret Building nest box this year.
Peregrine falcons nested on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly the Hotel Utah) from 1986 to 1990 and from 1994 to 1995.
In 1996, they also nested at the Deseret Building, which is about one block south of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The famous pair produced 16 young during that time. Eleven youngsters successfully departed from the downtown area to unknown, wilder haunts.
From 1991 through 1993, the pair nested in a nearby canyon where five young successfully mastered flight and left the area.
Last year, in 2004, both a male and a female young-of-the-year falcon successfully fledged from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building nest site.
As in past years, volunteers helping Walters will periodically share glimpses and gawks of the peregrine family with people in the downtown area. During upcoming Watchable Wildlife program field trips, and impromptu noon hour and evening gatherings, you can catch a glimpse of the falcons using binoculars and spotting scopes that will be available on the sidewalks along 100 South, Main and State streets near the Deseret Building.
"Look for people holding binoculars, or standing near scopes in these areas," Walters said. "Don't hesitate to step forward and inquire about a free look and to ask any questions you have about peregrine falcons and this famous pair and family of birds."
As in 2004, Walters says volunteers will be enlisted to watch over the young falcons and keep them from harm's way during their harrowing first flights.
The peregrine falcon, which was removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 1999, is recovering statewide and continues to enjoy protection under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.