This past week, as my wife Carolyn and I were on a nature hike near Golden Valley, it occurred to me that I hadn’t visited the Colonnade Building in Golden Valley this year to see if there were still Peregrine falcons there. After we finished our hike she agreed to go with me and see if we could see one.
The Colonnade Building can be seen from Highway 394 and is at 5500 Wayzata Blvd. As we drove there I was reminded of the first time I visited this beautiful glass building in 2007 with a friend of mine. We came that day in June to see Peregrine falcon chicks banded. Noted ornithologist Bud Tordoff was there that day. He had done much to bring the Peregrine falcon back from near extinction in Minnesota over the past 20 years. My friend and I met Bud and he asked us if we wanted to see the chicks in their nest before he banded them, from what I think was the 15th floor of the building. At the time that floor was being renovated and there weren’t any offices in it when we got off the elevator. He took us to a corner of the building and right up to the glass windows where the chicks were. I took photos through the window and we just sat there and watched them for a few minutes then some people from the Midwest Peregrine Society and the Raptor Center arrived and took the chicks down to the parking lot where Bud banded them as he told us all about the history of the Peregrine falcons. It was a wonderful morning. Bud unfortunately died the next year at the age of 85.
Carolyn and I soon arrived at the Colonnade building and entered the parking lot and drove straight to the top level. We got out and immediately spotted two Peregrine falcons. One was about 12 or 13 stories up at a part of the building that was recessed and the other was on about the sixth story on top of an overhang. This one was eating something and it wasn’t hard to deduce that it was a bird. I noticed by it’s coloring that it was a juvenile and that it had been banded. We watched as it tore pieces from the bird and threw out some out and ate the rest while the adult some seven stories overhead watched.
The Peregrine falcon is the fastest creature in the world. Its average flight speed is 24-33 miles per hour and when in pursuit of another bird it can reach 67 miles per hour. But when it drops from a height and closes its wings in a dive it can reach 240 miles per hour. At that speed nothing can get away from it. Peregrines mostly eat birds and the word Peregrine means wanderer because they have one of the longest migrations of any bird in the world, up to 15,000 miles. The Peregrine falcon has been in much demand from falconers for over 1,000 years and yet they almost disappeared in the 1960s and 1970s from the eastern half of North America due to DDT.
After DDT was banned Peregrine Societies all over the country with dedicated people like Bud Tordoff worked hard to restore the Peregrine to its rightful place in the world and the results of their hard work have been outstanding. In 1999 they had recovered enough to be removed from the endangered species list. I thought about all of this as I watched the banded juvenile eat his prey. If you want to learn more about and or contribute to the work that is being done to help the Peregrine. Go to the Midwest Peregrine Society at http://midwestperegrine.umn.edu
I have more photos and a video of the Peregrines at the Colonnade Building at http://bit.ly/1py6YHN