04 May 2015

Omaha Falcons Prey on Shorebirds and Cuckoos

Evidence found at downtown Omaha indicates that the Peregrine Falcons living at the Woodmen Tower are taking shorebirds as prey.

The morning of May 2nd, a Pectoral Sandpiper was found dead in Dodge Street, just north of the First National Bank tower. It was originally thought that it may have struck the atrium windows and died, with the carcass then being kicked by a pedestrian into the street. A closer examination showed a bloody spots on white feathers, which tends to convey bleeding due to the claws of a raptor, notably the Peregrine Falcons which nest at an adjacent building.

Sunday morning, May 3rd, the fresh carcass of an Upland Sandpiper was found on the sidewalk at the corner of 16th and Dodge Street, within about 150 feet of where the Pectoral Sandpiper carcass was located. The bird's neck was partially mangled, indicating that something had violently torn at the body of the bird. There were feathers missing. The injuries to the bird and its location readily indicate it did not die due to striking glass of the bank tower.

In both instances, it appears that the hunting falcon, as it was returning to the nest, dropped its prey. The nest contents at the Woodmen Tower are currently being incubated, according to the falconcam.

Both carcasses were taken and disposed of in a suitable manner.

The Pectoral Sandpiper carcass; the wound is obvious in the lower part of the bird's body.

This is an image capture from the Woodmen of the World FalconCam of an adult falcon feeding its young, the morning of May 19th. The bird was large and provided food for each eyas and the adult. The identity of the bird could not be determined.

The morning of May 23rd, another prey item of the Peregrine Falcons was found on the sidewalk of downtown Omaha. The carcass of a yellow-billed cuckoo was laying at the southwest corner of 16th and Dodge Streets. The head of the bird had been torn from its body, so the features of the tail feathers were used to make the species identification. There is something about the First National Tower that results in the falcons dropping prey items before they reach the nest site on Woodmen Tower, just to the southwest. Each of the three carcass found thus far have been within a relative short distance of one another.

On the morning of May 29th, another yellow-billed cuckoo was found on the same 16th and Dodge Street corner. It was located within 20 feet of the carcass found on the 23rd. The following image shows the blood on the feathers caused by the falcon talons.