Yet another sign of spring flew into town over the weekend with the return of peregrine falcons to the UND water tower.
Tim Driscoll of Grand Forks, a regional raptor expert and licensed bander who's been banding and following the peregrines since they first began nesting locally in 2008, said he spotted peregrine patriarch Marv at the nest box atop the water tower Saturday afternoon, March 16.
He was able to identify the peregrine as Marv by the numbered band on the bird's leg.
Marv showed up the same day last year, Driscoll said.
"He looked to be in great shape and was even observed facing into the nest box," Driscoll said in a post on the Grand Cities Bird Club's listserv. "Facing in rather than facing out is a behavior that Marv is known to do. As I have been known to say, 'so far, so good.' "
Hatched in 2013 in Fargo, Marv has been breeding in Grand Forks since 2014.
Sunday, a banded female showed up at the water tower, raising speculation she might be Terminator, the female that nested every year from 2008 through 2017 but failed to return last year.
Driscoll wasn't able to get a clear photo of the bird and her leg band until Monday, when he found she wasn't Terminator but instead was a female named Fleming, banded in 2017 as a nestling in Winnipeg.
Fleming, who could be attempting her first breeding effort, appeared to get along well with Marv, Driscoll said, but then another adult female was observed early Tuesday afternoon and performed a display flight with Marv.
The new female was unbanded, Driscoll said, suggesting she might be the same female that bred with Marv last year in Terminator's absence.
In a Wednesday listserv post, Driscoll said he didn't see both females at the same time.
"It is possible that a territorial dispute is upcoming," Driscoll said. "It is also possible that Fleming has already left the site. I would rather have two females in a territorial dispute than no females and only one male.
"Hopefully any dispute will end without either falcon getting seriously hurt."
As the old saying goes, time will tell, but the peregrines' return is a welcome sign of spring after what has been a long, hard winter.