Love is in the air for Stewart, Seattle’s best-known peregrine falcon. He may soon be a father again.
Stewart’s new mate, Belle, laid her first egg March 23 on a nest atop the 55-story Washington Mutual Tower downtown. She was expected to lay up to four eggs.
If the eggs are fertile, it will take them about four weeks to hatch.
Video monitors, linked to a camera on top of the skyscraper, were turned on Friday to allow the public to watch the birds’ activities from inside the tower.
Last year, thousands of people watched the monitors as Stewart’s previous mate, Virginia, hatched three eggs. The parent falcons tended to the young birds until Virginia died last June when she flew into a skyscraper window.
Wildlife officials removed the baby falcons from their nest for fear they would die without the protection of their mother. The young birds were later reintroduced to their home atop the financial tower. One died of a brain abscess caused by an infection; the other two took flight.
A month after the death of Virginia, researchers watched as Stewart encountered Belle for the first time - at the same nest where Stewart and Virginia made their home. The birds’ courtship has been monitored ever since.
Several individual falcons have wintered in the city. But until Stewart and Virginia met last spring, none had stayed in Seattle to breed.
In the city, the falcons’ diet consists primarily of starlings and pigeons.
The birds are listed as an endangered species.