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First peregrine chick of 2016 confirmed in Grand Forks

There's at least one new peregrine falcon chick in town, and the next few days should provide a clearer picture of this year's hatch, a local raptor expert says.

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Herald File Photo

There's at least one new peregrine falcon chick in town, and the next few days should provide a clearer picture of this year's hatch, a local raptor expert says.

Tim Driscoll, Grand Forks, a licensed bander who keeps close tabs on the birds, said female Terminator and male Marv were seen feeding at least one chick Friday in the nest box atop the UND water tower.

In all likelihood, there are more chicks, but that's difficult to determine because the nest box is so high, and there's no camera set up on the tower to aid Driscoll and other falcon watchers.

Marv and Terminator last year hatched four chicks.

Normally, the first three chicks hatch within hours of each other, Driscoll said. By the time the chicks are five to six days old, Driscoll said they should large enough for him to see their heads sticking out from the nest box.


"Then I start the tedious process of trying to count them," he said.

Driscoll said he likes to band the chicks when they're about 20 days old, which this year should be sometime around June 9 or June 10.

Mating twist

A possible love triangle was brewing in March when an impostor female, a 1-year-old identified as Bristol by the band on her leg, flew into town and began vying for Marv's affections.

Driscoll and other banders name the birds because it's easier to remember a name than a band number.

Peregrine pairs don't migrate together, and Bristol hung around the UND water tower for a couple of weeks, leading local birdwatchers to speculate a new female was ruling the roost. But then Terminator was spotted high above campus March 24.

Within a couple of days, Bristol had skipped the country and was confirmed with a new mate in Winnipeg, where she was hatched in 2015.

Terminator is the matriarch of Grand Forks' peregrine family and has produced chicks every year since 2008, when she raised her first offspring on the old Smiley water tower. She was hatched and banded in 2006 in Brandon, Man.


Driscoll banded Marv as a chick in 2013 in Fargo, naming the male after Fargo TV personality Marv Bossart, who died earlier that year. Marv showed up in Grand Forks as a yearling and mated with Terminator in 2014.

This year's hatch is the pair's third brood of chicks. "Malala," a chick from last year's hatch, spent the winter on Padre Island in south Texas, where a photographer in February took a photo clearly showing her band number-black over red C/07.

Nearly decimated by pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s, peregrines have been on the rebound since the 1980s, according to the Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project's website. Grand Forks and Fargo have the only known nesting peregrines in North Dakota, and Minnesota has more than 50 nesting pairs, the Department of Natural Resources says.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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