Falcons take flight at U.S. Bank Place – La Crosse, WI |Kraus-Anderson
For our U.S. Bank Place tenants in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the arrival of spring means more than just sunshine, melting snow and green grass. It marks the long anticipated arrival of the peregrine falcons that have found a home on the building’s roof. Since 2005, the Raptor Resource Project, a non-profit focused on preserving falcons, eagles, and other local birds, has housed a nesting box on the roof of the U.S. Bank Place to lure nesting falcons to the area.
Since then, 34 falcons have hatched and made it to flight from the nest. Over the years, the La Crosse community has embraced the local birds. School groups have visited the falcons, and local news often covers the hatching and tagging, which allows Raptor Resource Project to track the birds’ progress.
At the end of May, four eyas (falcon chicks) hatched on the roof of the building, a property of Kraus-Anderson Realty. Property Manager Mark Hyde has been involved with the falcons since they arrived in 2005, and recently shared some background on these unusual tenants.
How did your partnership with the Raptor Resource Project come about?
MARK HYDE, KA PROPERTY MANAGER: Shortly after the building was built in the late 1980s, the DNR placed a nesting box on the building as an attempt to lure nesting falcons to the area. It was eventually removed after a couple of years with no success. In 2005, we were approached by the DNR in conjunction with the Raptor Resource Project to make another attempt. A nesting box was again hung off the side of the building. It was unsuccessful in 2005, but in 2006 a nesting pair took to the box.
How many falcons have been nesting at U.S. Bank since the process started?
MARK HYDE: They have nested here every year but 2013. They usually lay 2-4 eggs, with 2-3 making it to flight. In 2018, we had the best year with 4 eggs hatched, and all four eyas making it to flight. It is not unusual for one egg not to hatch, or if all eggs hatch, for one of the eyas not to survive. Through 2018, we have had 34 falcons make to flight and leave the nest.
What time of year do the falcons show up and how long do they stay?
They usually show up late March, laying eggs early to mid-April. The eggs have a 28-31 day incubation period. After the eyas hatch, they spend 4-5 weeks in the nest before taking flight. Once they leave the nest, they do not return.
What is the Raptor Resource Project’s role in caring for the falcons?
They place and maintain the box. We keep in communication with them and let them know when the eggs are laid, and they hatch. When the eyas reach 3-4 weeks old, the Raptor Resource people come, remove them from the nest, band them in the lobby of the building, and place them back in the nest.
Do you ever get involved with the falcons?
When the fledglings take flight for the first time, they are not always successful. They flutter to the ground, landing anywhere from next to the building to a couple blocks away. In the initial years we would call the DNR and/or Humane Society, who would scoop the falcons up and place them on the roof. Now if we get a call, either Jeff Blank (maintenance) or I don the long heavy leather gloves and take a box, pick them up and put them on the roof. The parents then watch them and within a day they figure it out and fly off.
How has the community embraced the falcons?
Usually after the eyas are hatched, we have a couple school groups come and view the television in the lobby. Then we have local television and newspaper coverage of the banding. It also draws a pretty big group of people from the building, and people will bring their children.