Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's, oh wait, it is a bird. Three birds actually.
Perched high above the Circle, on the 31st floor of the Market Tower, are two adult peregrine falcons, Kinney and KathyQ, and their newest hatchling, Phoenix.The news of Phoenix' s arrival last month (April 28) might have flown under the radar for most, but this little chickie is now one of less than 50 known peregrines in the state of Indiana. While this number seems drastically low at first glance, some consideration needs to be taken.The massive use of pesticides (especially DDT) during the early and mid-20th century brought these falcons to the brink of extinction. By 1970 there were no known peregrines east of the Mississippi River, and in 1972 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service categorized the peregrine as an endangered species.Half a hundred doesn't sound so bad now, does it?While our state's fist peregrine nesting since 1900 was spotted in East Chicago by Indiana's Department of Natural Resources in 1989, it wasn't until 1993 that Indianapolis received its avian Superman. No, he didn't arrive from the planet Krypton, but he did travel from a land just as foreign: Lexington, Kentucky.Indiana DNR biologist John Castrale was the first to identify Kinney back in 1993, and as he puts it, "Kinney is a special bird."Ask Castrale why and he expounds, "The average life expectancy for this type of falcon is 5 to 6 years. Kinney is now 18, making him the oldest peregrine in the state." Castrale adds, "With the hatching of Phoenix, Kinney has sired 59 chicks to date, that's a dozen more than any other male in the entire Midwest."I told you this bird was Superman.The next time you're on the Circle, try and catch Kinney on the hunt. He'll be the feathered blur cutting through the sky above at speeds over 200 mph. While that isn't faster than a speeding bullet, it does qualify the peregrine as the fastest member of the animal kingdom, and almost fast enough to qualify for last weekend's Indy 500.
Photo #1 Kinney rests on the Key Bank sign atop Market Tower
Photo #2 Indy’s newest peregrine, Phoenix
Photo#3 DNR biologists John Castrale and Amy Kearns banding Phoenix
Photo#4 KathyQ protecting her hatchling
Photo#5 KathyQ circling the nest
All photos courtesy of Indianapolis DNR.