WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 26, 2014, 08:19 AM

Falcon hatched last year in Fargo courts older female atop UND water tower

A brewing romance is underway high atop the UND water tower, but it’s too soon to say whether love in the air leads to eggs in the nest.

By: Brad Dokken, WDAY

A brewing romance is underway high atop the UND water tower, but it’s too soon to say whether love in the air leads to eggs in the nest.

Terminator, a female peregrine falcon that has been nesting in Grand Forks since 2008, has a male suitor that showed up early this week and has been identified as “Marv,” a peregrine hatched last spring in Fargo and banded by Grand Forks raptor expert Tim Driscoll.

Local birder Dave Lambeth got a photo of Marv on the water tower Friday confirming the band number as H/72.

Despite their age difference, Terminator is showing signs of warming up to her new, young suitor, but so far, it’s more of a waiting game than a mating game.

Yearling peregrines don’t commonly mate.

Getting acquainted

“After watching this morning, they do seem to be doing everything we’d expect,” Lambeth said Friday. “I haven’t seen mating yet. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting acquainted and taking a few days for hormone levels to get right.

“I think they’ll try.”

Driscoll, who also has been watching the attempted courtship, said he’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far. While not common, it’s not unheard of for immature males to mate with older females, he said.

“She’s still tolerating him,” Driscoll said. “We’ll have to see. If he doesn’t pull it off this year, I suspect he’ll come back next year.”

The next few days will tell the tale, the birders said.

“If we see copulation, and she starts incubating, I think it’s a good Bingo,” Driscoll said. “It’s up to her.

“He’s a first-year guy so he’s still learning. We’re well within the range to do this. I think the next week will be very telling.”

Mate No. 4?

For those keeping score, Lambeth said Marv will be Terminator’s fourth mate if their union transpires.

Terminator, who returned to the UND water tower April 6, was hatched in Brandon, Man., and first showed up in Grand Forks in 2008 as a 2-year-old. Including Marv, three of her suitors were from Fargo, Lambeth said; last year’s male wasn’t banded so his origin isn’t known.

If they don’t mate, neither Lambeth nor Driscoll could say whether Terminator will stay or fly the coop.

“She might stick around for awhile, but that’s just a guess,” Lambeth said. “I don’t know.”

Peregrines have been on the rebound since the 1980s after pesticides decimated their populations. Grand Forks and Fargo have the only known nesting peregrines in North Dakota, while Minnesota has more than 50 nest sites across the state.