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Peregrine Falcons make home on University of Michigan hospital roof

Rescued baby falcon presents naming opportunity for kids at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

A two-month-old peregrine falcon chick was recently reunited with her parents in their nest on the roof of University Hospital at the University of Michigan Health System.

She had been in the care of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after she attempted to fly and was unable to get back up to the nest.

The young falcon is one of three chicks that hatched in a nesting box built by a local Eagle Scout and U-M staff. Peregrines are protected as an endangered species under state law.

Although a breeding pair of peregrine falcons has nested on U-M’s campus for several years, these are the first known hatchlings.

To help honor and celebrate this achievement, U-M is offering children at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital the opportunity to name the baby falcon through an online contest. Please visit for contest updates.

Unlike their soon-to-be-named sister, who received an identification band after being rescued by the DNR, the other two chicks will remain without names at this time because University and DNR officials do not want to disturb the nest further.

DNR first spotted the baby peregrines on May 23 and estimated they were nine days old at the time.

“This is great example of the university’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability,” said Steve Benedict, director of U-M’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH) department. “The efforts by so many groups across U-M and the U-M Health System made this project happen, and it’s a great example of how the campus can function as a living and learning laboratory for our staff and the community at-large.”

“We are more than happy to share our rooftop space with this family of peregrine falcons.” added Tom Peterson, Associate Director of Operations and Support Services, UMHHC.

The adult pair of peregrines was first spotted at the Burton Memorial Tower in 2006. University officials ordered the bells and chimes to be silenced in an effort to prevent them from disturbing the falcons’ nesting season. Every year since, the falcons have returned to campus, where they have been spotted at Burton Tower, University Hospital and other tall buildings.

According to the DNR, it is common for peregrine falcons to use the same nest site for many years. In urban areas, peregrine pairs tend to nest on tall buildings or bridges, which simulate high cliffs, making the University Hospital rooftop a prime location.

In 2010, U-M officials sought guidance from the DNR and the U-M Museum of Zoology staff to help protect the state endangered falcons while Burton Memorial Tower underwent exterior repairs. Following recommendations from DNR, the university decided to delay repair work on the exterior of the tower until after the nesting season.

After nesting attempts at the tower continued to fail, two nesting boxes were installed for the falcons at University Hospital and at North Quad buildings in an effort to relocate them to a more suitable area. The UH nesting box was initially built and donated by a local Eagle Scout. Hospital staff modified the box to withstand higher wind speeds and other weather damage.

Peterson, the UMHHC operations director, credited the contributions of many staff members from UMHHC, Hospital Facilities & Maintenance, OSEH, North Quad, Burton Tower, Architecture Engineering & Construction Grounds, and the Museum of Zoology to the success of the nest boxes and the health of the falcons and their chicks.

U-M plans to build an access hatch that will allow DNR staff to band future chicks to better track their movements and monitor the falcon population.

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