Mother’s Day was particularly memorable this year for our pair of downtown peregrine falcons, Murray and Harriet. The three eggs Harriet laid hatched that day and we finally got a good look at them earlier this afternoon.
In this clip from the YouTube live stream, you get a good view of three teeny little floofs and two unhatched eggs. Murray was in the nest box keeping the babies warm when Harriet flew in to give him a break. She still had some lunch stuck to her foot.
The YouTube community has dubbed the three eyasses (falcon chicks), Dash, Ruston, and Cliff. They’ll be growing quickly for the next few weeks as Murray and Harriet stuff them with pigeons and any other small birds they can get their talons on. The chicks will be big enough to get their adult-sized ankle bands in about a month.
The parents take turns hunting and brooding throughout the day. One of them is often perched just outside the camera’s view.
The easiest way to tell the difference between Murray and Harriet is to look at their feet. Murray has bands on his ankles from 2004 when he was born on the Murray Morgan Bridge. He’s also missing a toe on his left foot. You can see photos from the 2018 banding and learn more about the parents here.
Harriet is slightly larger but it’s hard to tell unless they’re right next to each other. She was never banded so no one knows exactly how old she is or where she was born. Murray will be 17 this year, putting him close to the record of the oldest falcon. According to the Cornell Lab, the oldest known peregrine falcon lived to be 19 years and 9 months old.
In this other clip, you can see Murray come back a while later with what looks like a headless featherless pigeon.
We’ve been lucky to have these birds downtown for a few years now, especially considering they were nearly wiped out from Washington State in the 1980s due to the use of DDT.
As resilient as they may be, though, they’re also very sensitive animals. Installation of the webcam in 2019 during nesting season caused the pair to skip a year in downtown Tacoma.
If you go to check them out in person, please do so from the ground or neighboring buildings. Flying drones anywhere around the building will cause them a lot of undue stress. Falcons are also very territorial and fully capable of destroying a drone so don’t tempt fate.