New falcon family makes UH its home

Nitz, UIC's new peregrine falcon

Nitz, UIC’s new peregrine falcon, has replaced Rosie as the resident raptor on the ledges of University Hall. She has produced three eggs. Photo: Steve Marton

There’s a new falcon family on campus.

Rosie, the peregrine falcon who has made the ledges of University Hall her home since 1999, has moved on — as Nitz, who hails from Wisconsin, moved in.

Rosie and her mate were “outcompeted” by the new pair of birds, said Mary Hennen, director of the Chicago Peregrine Program.

Nitz has already produced three eggs in her nest on the top floor of University Hall, where the family can be viewed live via falcon-cam.

Hennan identified Nitz from information stamped on her two leg bands. The falcon fledged in 2001 and nested about five miles east in Lawndale from 2004 to 2006, when the building was renovated.

Hennen, collections assistant at the Field Museum, will get leg-band information for Nitz’s mate when he takes a turn incubating the eggs.

“We might find that he’s an offspring of Rosie,” she said, explaining that males often stay close to their birthplace.

Hennen expects the eggs to hatch during the second week of June. When the chicks are about four weeks old, she will lead a team of peregrine experts who briefly remove the young birds from the ledge, draw blood samples and give them identifying leg bands.

Rosie hatched 32 chicks during her years of nesting on ledges of University Hall. But it was apparent that her days were numbered when she laid only one egg last year. In previous years she had always produced at least two eggs, and as many as four.

Rosie, now 15, could be anywhere in the Midwest, Hennen said.

“Think of her as retired,” she said. “She did her duty all those years, and now she can take it easy.”

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