Peregrine's return marks sign of spring
The potential for wintry weather lingers, but a sure sign of spring flew back into town late last week when Marv the peregrine showed up at his usual perch atop the UND water tower, where he awaits a mate.
If all goes according to plan, this will be Marv's fifth season of producing offspring in Grand Forks, local raptor expert Tim Driscoll said Monday. Terminator, the matriarch of Grand Forks' contribution to the species' ongoing recovery, has produced every offspring in the city since 2008, Driscoll said.
Peregrine pairs don't migrate together but tend to return to the same nest site every spring, with the males typically arriving first.
Last year, Marv was confirmed in Grand Forks on March 15, Driscoll said.
"The good news is Marv is back," he said. "We knew he was close, so we've been checking."
Driscoll said he got a call about 9 a.m. Saturday from local birder and falcon follower Dave Lambeth that a peregrine appearing to be Marv was perched near the nest box on the water tower.
Lambeth said he didn't get a clear photo of the falcon, but he was able take and piece together enough photos to confirm the numbers on the peregrine's right leg band indeed were a match with Marv.
Driscoll, who is a licensed bander, banded Marv in 2013 in Fargo, naming the peregrine after Fargo TV personality Marv Bossart, who died in April 2013.
With one peregrine parent back in town, it now is a waiting game until Terminator returns or another female arrives to take her place. Banded in 2006 in Brandon, Man., Terminator has produced 29 falcon chicks, including two that died in the nest, since her first year in 2008, Driscoll said.
Marv has fathered 13 of those chicks since 2014, his first year as the patriarchal peregrine, Driscoll said.
Providing she survived another migration, Terminator conceivably could fly back into town later this week, Driscoll said. She first showed up in Grand Forks on April 9, 2008, with subsequent first sightings April 10, 2009; March 27, 2010; April 7 or 8, 2011; March 26, 2012; March 26, 2013; April 6, 2014; March 29, 2015; March 24, 2016; and March 23, 2017—her earliest return to date.
"It seems to me that Terminator is coming earlier" every year, Driscoll said.
Grand Forks and Fargo have the only known peregrine nesting sites in North Dakota, while Crookston had its first successful peregrine production in 2017. Minnesota has more than 50 nesting sites across the state, the Department of Natural Resources says.