LINCOLN, Neb. — The peregrine falcon pair atop the Capitol has abandoned their recently-laid clutch of five eggs.
The male, 19/K, and female, Alley, apparently remain present at the Capitol but have not been seen in their nest box — or more importantly, on their eggs — since the morning of Sunday, April 30. During the intervening period, their eggs remained exposed to the chilly and wet weather. The nest abandonment essentially ends the 2017 nesting cycle.
Nest abandonment by peregrine falcons is rare, and cause of this instance is unknown. The nest abandonment comes after an unusual nesting season when the pair commenced egg laying late in spring. In past years the pair has started egg laying in late March or early April, but this year the first egg did not arrive until April 16. Members of the pair are relatively old; 19/K is 16 years old and the Alley is 13 years old. Maximum longevity for wild peregrine falcons is typically 15-20 years. The pair also has been experiencing reduced fertility in recent years, and 19/K spent several months in rehabilitation last summer after injuring a wing before being released in October.
Alley and 19/K are the only peregrine falcons that have successfully nested at the Capitol. They have fledged 23 offspring since 2005. Out of the 23 young, six have been observed as adults away from the Capitol. Boreas, hatched in 2007, and Nemaha, hatched in 2009, nested at the Westar Energy building in Topeka, Kansas, from 2011 to 2016. Mintaka, hatched in 2010, has been nesting on Omaha’s Woodmen Tower since 2012. Lewis, hatched in 2012, was observed near Houston, Texas, in the winter of 2014 and this past winter. Clark, also hatched in 2012, was discovered nesting at Omaha Public Power District’s north Omaha power station in 2015. Orozco, hatched in 2015, was recently discovered this spring at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral in Omaha.