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Terminator the peregrine still missing in action in Grand Forks

Grand Forks raptor expert Tim Driscoll took this photo of Terminator, the matriarch of Grand Forks' peregrines, on March 25, 2017, as she perched outside the nest box on the UND water tower.

Terminator, the matriarch of Grand Forks' contribution to North America's peregrine falcon recovery, appears to be terminally missing in action, and an identified female who first showed up more than a week ago continues to occupy the nest box atop the UND water tower with Marv, the peregrine patriarch for the past five years.

Hatched in 2006 in Brandon, Man., where she was banded, Terminator has produced every peregrine chick in Grand Forks since nesting first was documented in 2008.

Now, that streak appears to be in serious jeopardy, and her whereabouts are unknown, said Tim Driscoll, local raptor expert and licensed bander who follows the comings and goings of Grand Forks peregrines. Terminator has never shown up later than April 10, Driscoll said.

"This is as late as I remember Terminator coming in," he said Tuesday. "It's been a slow, late spring, so I haven't totally given up hope, but she should have been here by now."

If she doesn't show up within the next week, Terminator could be dead, Driscoll said. On the upside, the new female, first spotted March 28, appears to be setting up territory and sitting on the nest box, which Driscoll calls a "step up" in the courting process with Marv, who Driscoll banded in 2013 in Fargo.

"We've got a peregrine female who looks pretty healthy, and she's huge and Marv is feeding her, and they're on their way," he said.

If all goes according to plan, the mystery female should lay eggs and begin incubating April 22 or thereabouts, Driscoll said. Terminator last year began laying eggs about April 15.

"I don't think she's quite ready to incubate yet," he said. "I suspect they're holding it off as much as they can because of the cold temperatures. All that said, I'm guessing we're not too far away."

In related news, Walsh, a UND-hatched peregrine, is back in Moorhead for another breeding season, this time with a new mate, a female named Susan who was banded in 2015 in Winona, Minn., Driscoll said.

Grand Forks and Fargo have the only two peregrine nests in North Dakota. The falcons, which nest on cliffs and high structures such as water towers and tall buildings, often are mistaken for merlins and Cooper's hawks. Relatively abundant in Grand Forks, merlins and Cooper's hawks commonly nest in trees, which peregrines wouldn't do, Driscoll said.

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.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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