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Marilyn Hagerty can add 'bird grandmother' to her resume: Namesake peregrine produces two chicks in Manitoba

Tim Driscoll introduces "Marilyn," one of four young peregrine falcons born in 2016 and named for Marilyn Hagerty, in June 2016 after banding as Bob Hagerty, Marilyn's son, reacts. Marilyn has been confirmed as producing two offspring this year in rural Manitoba. (Photo/ Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)1 / 2
"Marilyn," a peregrine falcon hatched in 2016 atop the UND water tower and named after longtime Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty, is alive and well and produced two offspring this year in southern Manitoba. Winnipeg photographer Dennis Swayze took this photo clearly showing the black leg band with the letter C over a red band with the number 82, which confirms Marilyn's identity. (Photo/ Dennis Swayze, Photos by Dennis)2 / 2

From the "wow, that's cool" department comes this news about a peregrine falcon hatched in 2016 atop the UND water tower and named after longtime Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty.

Marilyn the Peregrine is alive and well and has produced two offspring—a male and a female—this year in rural southern Manitoba. Tim Driscoll, the regional raptor expert who banded Marilyn in 2016, said he got the news from Tracy Maconachie, coordinator of the Manitoba Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project.

There's no question it's Marilyn the Peregrine. Manitoba photographer Dennis Swayze took a photograph that clearly shows the leg band confirming her identity: a black band on her left leg with the letter C over a red band with the number 82.

It's the first news of Marilyn's whereabouts since she flew the coop, so to speak, after leaving Grand Forks two years ago.

The confirmation that she's nesting in Manitoba and produced two chicks this year is exciting news indeed, said Driscoll, who named Marilyn. Peregrine chicks face long odds in surviving their first year.

"I just thought of a conversation I had with Marilyn Hagerty saying the honor is in the name and that we'd probably never hear from (her namesake) again, and if we did, the odds were high that it would be bad news," Driscoll said. "So, when I heard she'd been sighted and had two babies, I thought, 'Yes! This hardly ever happens. I can't wait to tell her!"

That's exactly what he did Friday afternoon.

Upon hearing the news, Hagerty said she was pleasantly surprised to learn she'd become a "bird grandmother."

"I had just sort of given up," Hagerty said. "After I had been thinking about her last fall and winter, I guess I just kind of figured she had gone where the good birds go."

Driscoll might have missed catching Hagerty at home if he'd waited too long to share the news. She was going to a picnic later Friday afternoon for new UND medical students with her granddaughter, Anne Sandstrom, who is a member of the class.

"I'm grandmother to a future doctor and grandmother to a bird," Hagerty said with a laugh. "How exciting can it get?"

Marilyn the Peregrine was one of four chicks Driscoll banded and named in 2016 and has three brothers: David, named after Grand Forks birding authority David Lambeth; Clifton, named after Clifton "Cliff" Cushman, a Central High School track star and Olympic athlete whose plane went down in 1966 over Vietnam; and Ali, after Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight boxer and social activist who died in June 2016.

David was found injured last fall along the Red River in Winnipeg and now is a permanent resident of a Parkland Mews Falconry and Bird of Prey Education Centre, a captive breeding facility on the outskirts of Winnipeg. There have been no confirmed reports of Clifton or Ali.

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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