- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Stand at Sixth and Ohio streets, aim a pair of binoculars at the Sycamore Building, and you’ll see the landmark’s newest tenants - a cast of peregrine falcons nesting on the roof.

The family is growing, with the addition of three chicks that hatched this spring.

“In a couple weeks, you’ll be able to see the babies poking their heads out and things of that nature,” said Katie Spicer, a member and past vice president of the Wabash Valley Audubon Society.

A full nest was a relief to the society, which works to conserve and restore natural ecosystems and habitats for birds and other wildlife. Members weren’t certain whether the falcons would settle into another home following the loss of their longtime habitat at Indiana State University’s Sycamore Towers.

The peregrine’s climate is already threatened by a significant loss of current winter climate space, according to Audubon’s Guide to North American Birds.

Breeding populations still need monitored as the species recovers from the effects of DDT and other pesticides that endangered the birds from the 1940s-1970s, according to Audubon.

Once ISU announced plans to raze the towers, Spicer helped seek to relocate the nest. Until skyscrapers began dotting city landscapes, the falcon’s historical habitats were cliff faces, she said.

“The taller the building, the better, because it resembles a cliff face to them,” said Spicer, a master’s student in ISU’s ornithology program.

Peregrine’s have also been spotted over the years at the Vigo County Courthouse, WTHI-TV’s transmission tower and St. Benedict Catholic Church.

Sunset Harbor, the real estate firm that manages the Sycamore Building, gave the society permission to place the nest on the 12-story building’s roof.

In December 2014, Spicer joined Amy Kearns, assistant non-game bird biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and former non-game bird biologist Dr. John Castrale to relocate the falcons home.

2015 came and went without any activity in the nest.

“We don’t know if they’d noticed it or not, but it seems like they did not,” Spicer said, adding the society learned the falcons were still in the area.

Then earlier this year, Sycamore Building property manager Gloria Jackson alerted the society to a possible falcon sighting.

“Several employees saw a bird flying in that area, thinking that’s what it was,” Jackson said.

In mid-March, as Spicer wrote in a Facebook post, she checked from street level and observed an adult falcon in the nest.

By mid-April, there were four eggs. On May 6, all but one had hatched and Spicer found three “fluffy” chicks.

“It was absolutely exciting,” Spicer told the Tribune-Star. “After no nest last year, we were trepedatious.”

The roof is not open to the public for sightings so the birds can nest undisturbed. Indeed, on her two trips up with Spicer, Jackson said the adult falcons are territorial about protecting the babies.

“They get pretty defensive,” Jackson said.

The society plans to band the falcons this week to help track their movement.

In June or July, the chicks will likely take their first flight, Spicer said, and stick around the nest until August. That’s when their parents will “chase them away,” she said, to find their own nesting perk.

Spicer said the adult falcons would likely call the Sycamore Building home year-round.

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Source: https://bit.ly/1WBNDcj

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Information from: Tribune-Star, https://www.tribstar.com

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