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Capitol peregrine falcons’ second nesting attempt fails

LINCOLN, Neb. – A second nesting attempt this year by the peregrine falcon pair atop the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln has failed.

The latest nesting attempt began near the end of May, when the female peregrine falcon laid three eggs in the nest box located on the Capitol’s 18th floor. Over the past week, two eggs disappeared, leaving one egg attended by the pair. By late Monday, June 25, the pair was incubating the remaining egg infrequently, and by the following morning, neither adult was present at the nest box.

“Based on the circumstances, we can conclude the remaining egg will not hatch,” said Joel Jorgensen, nongame bird program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

In late April, the peregrine falcon pair selected an alternative nest site in a gutter at the base of the Capitol’s dome. It was not known how many eggs were laid because the nest site was inaccessible, but the nesting attempt failed in early May following a period of rain.

This year’s unsuccessful nesting attempts follow a similar outcome in 2017, when five eggs were laid, none of which hatched. In 2016, one out of five eggs hatched. The pattern of decreasing egg fertility is believed to be associated with the birds’ age. Alley, the female, is 14 years old and the male, 19/K, is 17 years old. Maximum longevity of peregrine falcons is 16-20 years.

Alley and 19/K are the only peregrine falcons that have successfully nested at the Capitol and 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, recently was discovered nesting at a third site in Omaha.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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