Rockford has a pair of peregrine falcons in town and their names are Louise and Lil Kool!
Our Nestcam is focused on Rockford’s only known pair of breeding peregrine falcons. The Nestcam was purchased and installed in April 2018 by the Sinnissippi Audubon Society in partnership with the Rockford Register Star.
Female peregrine falcon Louise hatched in Toronto’s Canada Square site in Ontario, Canada, where she was banded in 2016. She was spotted in Malta, Illinois, and Jefferson County, Wisconsin, before moving on to Rockford. Louise mate is Lil Kool. Lil Kool hatched in 2015 at Thilmany Mill in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
The nest site in downtown Rockford
In 1930, the famous architect Jesse Barloga designed the Rockford Register News Tower at 99 East State St., which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built as an homage to the Tribune Tower in Chicago. Originally planned as an eight-story plant and 13-story tower, it was downsized due to the Stock Market Crash. At the top of the tower, the “Lantern of Liberty” symbolizes the importance of free press as part of our Constitutional rights.
Louise and Lil Kool chose to lay their eggs in a drainage channel on the building’s exterior on the eighth floor. Their nest sites in the wild usually are on cliff ledges. In urban areas, they often use building ledges or even bridges. No actual nest is built with twigs or sticks, but the eggs are laid in a simple scrape. The scrape is a small depression made in the pea gravel or ground material by pushing their feet backward to dig out a little low area.
About Peregrine Falcons
The peregrine falcon, also known as the peregrine, and historically as the duck hawk in North America, is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae. A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head. As is typical of bird-eating raptors, with females being considerably larger than males. The peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 200 mph during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.
The bird of prey’s population was wiped out in Illinois by the 1950s and 1960s, due in part to the widespread use of pesticides like DDT. These chemicals caused egg shells to thin, resulting in breakage, as well as abnormal reproductive behavior in adult birds. Throughout North America at that time, peregrine falcons were close to extinction.
The birds were placed on the federal and Illinois endangered species lists in 1973, according to the Chicago Peregrine Program. The program launched in 1985, and released 46 birds into the wild between 1986 and 1990, according to The Field Museum. By 1988, there was believed to be only one breeding pair, in Chicago. Currently, there are at least 30 breeding pairs.
It was in 2015 that peregrine falcons were removed from Illinois’ List of Endangered and Threatened Species. The peregrine population now is a threatened species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.