02 April 2008

Success Continues for Falcon Project in Omaha

Success continues this season for the Peregrine Falcon project initiated in Omaha twenty years ago, as a breeding pair has fresh eggs atop the Woodmen Tower.

A picture of Amelia, taken in 2005. Image courtesy of Kathy Cardwell, Woodmen of the World.

Zeus, with his current mate Hera, have two eggs in the nesting platform on the 28th floor of the skyscraper. The first egg was apparently laid on March 30th. Hera has been the third mate for Zeus, since 2006.

"This program has proved to be very beneficial to the falcons," said Tim Sautter, general manager for the building, noting that the species is no longer listed as endangered.

"We have received many favorable comments on the falcons," Sautter said. "People watch the falcon cam during their lunch breaks, with some people checking on them each day."

The public interest is apparent in the extent of interest in providing names for the young raised each season.

"There is an unbelievable response to the naming contests," Sautter said. "The interest is still surprising after twenty years."

The building owners, the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, are very pleased with having the nesting falcons on their building, Sautter said. "They have received lots of good publicity by being involved with the falcon project."

A 20th anniversary event is being planned by the Society, and is expected to take place when the young falcons would be banded in the latter part of May. KETV will also be a sponsor for the event.

During the two decades, adding a roof had been the only change required for the nest box, Sautter noted. "The birds were getting too hot and adding a roof was helpful in reducing the glare from the building windows."

"The falcons are pretty much on their own now," Sautter said. He only needs to monitor the nesting activity.

Night view of the 470 ft. tall Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha.

There have been few problems for the nesting birds during the years. Occasionally an errant fledgling needs to be rescued from the streets below the nesting site. In 2005, Zeus’ mate Amelia, was found on the street with a broken wing, and taken to the Raptor Center in Minnesota to be rehabilitated, although she did die later.

Current partners in the project include the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Raptor Recovery Nebraska.

The original reintroduction program in 1988 was initiated by the Nebraska Peregrine Falcon Project, comprised of the Audubon Society of Omaha, Fontenelle Forest Association, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Raptor Recovery Center. The original falcons released from a hack box were provided by the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

A falconcam is available in the building lobby, as well as on the project web-site, which includes a list of webcams at other cities. A genealogy and complete timeline for the falcons is also available.

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