I’m often asked, “Do you know what has become of any of the Peregrine Falcon nestlings that have been banded in Providence?” – and now I can say “Yes, I do.”
For a few years I had heard rumors of Peregrine Falcons spotted at the Cranston Street Armory and I assumed it must be the pair that lives downtown, visiting the West Side of Providence for a meal. But this spring I received a few messages via my Facebook page about daily sightings of two falcons at the armory, so I went to check it out…
The first few times I visited, all I saw were pigeons — and plenty of them — nesting in empty spaces all over the building.
But one day, amongst the pigeons, I finally spotted a falcon. It was a bizarre scene — like a fox living in a chicken coop. Below you can see a falcon on the left and 4 pigeons lined up on the right.
One day the falcon was only about 4 stories from the ground so I was able to photograph its foot band ID numbers.
I submitted the sighting to reportband.gov and learned that “25/AB” was a male hatched and banded in downtown Providence in 2010. And since I photographed the downtown banding in 2010, I had pictures of the nestlings — this could be “25/AB”:
Knowing that 60% of young falcons perish during their first year, it was great to see that “25/AB” made it to 4 years of age and was living just 1.5 miles from where he was hatched.
On rare occasions I was able to photograph an active hunt — it’s interesting to note the falcon is not much larger than the pigeon.
On various visits, I witnessed a falcon leap down into one of the castle-like spires. It was April, so I suspected they must be incubating eggs up there.
I was extremely grateful to be granted a brief glimpse through a window to see what was happening… and amazingly, there was a falcon! (It took a moment to realize the object to the left is weather-proofing material that had fallen off the building.)
On the right you can see the fluffy head of one nestling – it was heartwarming to witness. I was unsure if this was the male or female and of how many eggs were being incubated.
What a beauty!
Three weeks later I was allowed one more brief glimpse through the window and saw one adorable nestling peering back at me.
Unfortunately I was never able to photograph the female’s ankle band to determine where she came from. She may not even be banded at all.
By June I knew the nestling would be ready fledge from the nest and wondered if it would successfully leap to the roof, or tragically fall to the ground. After a few visits seeing nothing at all, I was relieved to locate the fledgling stretching its wings on the roof — he made it!
Lastly, I want to mention that the Cranston Street Armory has an uncertain future — it’s falling apart and needs immediate renovations. Without the necessary funds, the building may soon face demolition.
The armory is one of the amazing pieces of architecture that makes the West Side of Providence a special place.
The West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) is working to sustain funding for the armory. If you’d like to help, you can purchase this cool t-shirt from their website for just $20 — click here and select “Block Party T-shirt” from the Member Level drop-down menu.
I assume the artist meant for the two birds to represent pigeons, but for me they are the peregrine falcons.