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Falcons Nest Near Latah Creek

Pigeons have four or five good reasons to be nervous near the mouth of Latah Creek.

Falconers have documented the first peregrine falcon nest in downtown Spokane.

A pair of peregrines had been sighted in the downtown area this spring. But the nesting wasn’t confirmed until last weekend, when two young peregrines were spotted learning to fly near the old Sunset Highway bridge over Latah Creek.

“They had a little down still showing, but they could fly weakly,” said Jerry Hickman, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist.

An unconfirmed sighting of three chicks has been reported.

One of the adult falcons had a band on its leg, indicating the bird was captive-raised and released by The Peregrine Fund, a private group that’s released more than 4,000 peregrine falcons in 28 states since the mid-1970s.

This, along with federal controls on pesticides, including the 25-year-old ban on DDT, has reversed the decline of many birds of prey. Peregrines were listed as an endangered species by the federal government in 1970.

Biologists have recommended they be removed from the endangered list.

Chicks raised by the Fund were released in downtown Spokane for three years beginning in 1988, but Hickman said it’s unlikely any of those birds have survived this long.

“The adults could have come from releases anywhere,” he said.

“The young ones are surrounded by a lot of hazards,” warned falconer Bill Mulvihill. “At this age, they’re clumsy. One low pass over the freeway could be fatal.”

, DataTimes