C Cleveland

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today, I want to dedicate this post to the memory of Buckeye, a 14 year old peregrine falcon that had been nesting on a ledge of the Terminal Tower building in downtown Cleveland for 12 years.

Peregrine falcons didn't historically nest in Ohio but beginning in 1988, they started setting up home on makeshift "cliffs" on downtown skyscrapers. They are part of the raptor (bird of prey) species and are known for their flight speed in pursuit of prey. They attack by swooping at speeds that can exceed 200mph and kill their prey upon impact. It's likely that awesome speed that led to Buckeye's demise.

Here's the article by James F. McCarty from Cleveland.com:

Buckeye, believed to be one of the country's oldest and most prolific peregrine falcons, died last week after apparently striking a building near its urban nest on the Terminal Tower.

A woman walking at the intersection of West Third Street and Huron Avenue discovered the injured male on the sidewalk and called Harvey Webster, director of wildlife resources at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Webster said the unidentified woman managed to scoop up the bird and rush it to the museum. But Buckeye was dead by the time she arrived, said Webster, the overseer of the falcons' nesting box 12 floors above Public Square.

"He had a heck of a life and an incredible run during his 12 years on the Terminal Tower," Webster said.

Buckeye was 14 years old, having hatched in 1996 atop the Rhodes Office Tower in downtown Columbus. Officers with Ohio's Division of Natural Resources attached an identifying leg band on the chick before he left the nest.

As an adult, he flew north and spent two years on the Case Western Reserve University campus before pairing up with a female, Zenith, on the downtown Cleveland skyscraper.

In 2001, a second female, hatched in Pittsburgh and identified only as S/W, arrived in Cleveland and killed Zenith. She then joined Buckeye at the nest.

Between the two females, Buckeye sired 34 peregrine chicks, an amazing accomplishment for a species that was endangered for decades, Webster said.
Buckeye was getting old, but he hadn't missed a beat incubating the eggs or providing food for his chicks, Webster said.

Webster speculated that Buckeye's fatal collision might have come during an aerial battle with another male. The falcons can dive at up to 200 mph.

The males may have been battling for S/W's affections. The past weekend, downtown falcon watchers had observed S/W in the company of a new male. He has a leg band, but no one has been able to read its identification numbers yet.

Webster said Cleveland's falcon enthusiasts aren't as willing as S/W to adopt the interloper. They had become attached to Buckeye over the years, and have been mourning, he said.

The Museum of Natural History set up a webcam and these are some of the pictures from over the years.

Young peregrines exploring the ledge

Mama and babies

Big, brown bat for dinner again?

Rare to see both male and female at feeding time. And yes, the female is the larger bird.

Peregrine falcon chicks on Terminal Tower

Banding the chicks

Rest in Peace, Buckeye.


  1. Hey Chrissy, this was a total unknown to me. What a strange, adaptive, evolved life these birds have. And it's amazing that there was a conservation effort going on to supprt them right in the middle of a city! Thanks for sharing this one, Indigo

  2. What a great story! Hailing from Pittsburgh, I sure hope our falcon chick isn't the cause of Buckeye's demise. Thanks for the wonderful post this morning!

  3. R.I.P. Buckeye! (What a guy, meeting his demise while fighting over a chick.) We have Peregrin falcons nesting in downtown Rochester as well, complete with webcam. Pretty amazing creatures!

  4. Incredible story, Chrissy!

    GREAT photos. Loved the ones of the little babies.

    I found the whole thing fascinating. I also got a little teary-eyed. I can't help it...I love animals. What a royal face he had.

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Buckeye!

  5. Oh my gosh! I love this story! It was emotional and National Geographic-ey - all rolled up into one fantastic post.

    Great pictures, too.

  6. What a neat story! First time commenter, love your blog, I have been stopping by periodically. :)

  7. I do remember Buckeye stories:)

    I love your C Cleveland posts.

  8. Lovely tribute! I think...
    I stopped reading after it was evident that Buckeye had bit it. I'm in insufferable animaniac. (Yes, life is hard for those of us afflicted with this ridiculous psychosis.) The photos are fantastic, though!

  9. Aw. Beautiful bird.

    Fabulous story!

    A glimpse into your neck of the woods...

  10. "They attack by swooping at speeds that can exceed 200mph and kill their prey upon impact. It's likely that awesome speed that led to Buckeye's demise."

    Once again the dangers of exceeding the speed limit rear their ugly heads! Poor Buckeye.

  11. Great story! I'm chagrined, as a Pittsburgh area person about the speculated reason for Buckeye's demise. As if our football rivalries over the years weren't enough, now we have a falcon love triangle and suspected second degree peregrine falcon murder mystery to fuel those fires!


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