Updated: April 14, 2016, 8:57 am
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PEREGRINE FALCONS have used nesting locations in downtown Salt Lake City since 1984. We're hoping that this spring, like most, the falcons will use the nesting box located on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at South Temple and Main Street. If you're in downtown Salt Lake City, look up — you might catch a glimpse of these amazing birds.
April 14, 2016: The cameras are on, but there are currently no falcons in the nesting box. If there are no birds this season, the cameras will be turned off around the end of April. For the latest updates, you can follow the Salt Lake City peregrine falcons on Facebook
Although the sexes are outwardly similar, there are a few differences. If you want to identify the adults more easily, here are a few tips.
The male falcon (called a tiercel or tercel), is generally one-fourth to one-third smaller in size than the female (usually just referred to as a falcon). Tiercels are typically darker, have broader malars (the dark wedge below the eye) and rounded tips.
The female falcon appears grayer, with narrow malars and pointy tips. The buff-colored area at the tip of her tail is wider than the male's.
Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) do not build nests from grass or twigs. Usually, they create a scrape (a shallow depression in the substrate) on ledges, cliffs, or — in this case — a high, protected spot on a downtown Salt Lake City building. Once a nesting site is established, it may be reused year after year, although alternative sites have been utilized as well.
Over the years, with the help of the Salt Lake City Peregrine Falcon Watchpost Team members, a surprisingly large number of birds have survived flight training and successfully learned to fly. From 1986 through 1990 and 1995, 11 of 14 young learned to fly and dispersed to the wild. From 2004 through 2009, 10 of 13 young successfully departed to wilder haunts. From 1991 through 1993, five of six young reached the flying stage and dispersed from a cliff nest site located just north of the downtown area.
Peregrines are hunters extraordinaire that prey almost exclusively on birds caught in mid-air. Considered one of the world's fastest animals, peregrines can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour during vertical dives. The pigeon population of downtown Salt Lake City provides ample food, but, through the years, dozens of other bird species have fallen prey to these magnificent flyers.
The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 1999. The Utah peregrine population is recovering statewide, and the species continues to enjoy protection under Utah State Code and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Two of the three North American subspecies can be seen in Utah. The continental form, subspecies anatum, is a Utah nester that can be seen year round. The tundra form, subspecies tundrius, is a migrant that can be seen during the spring and fall.
Help support peregrine falcons and other raptors in Utah.
Contact Bob Walters for details: BobWalters@utah.gov or 801-209-5326.