The peregrine falcons staying in the high-rise nest box on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City are now carefully minding four eggs.
Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said he expects four will be the final number of eggs and that they will hatch in mid-May.
"I’d be surprised if another one pops out," Walters said. "They have been pretty consistent at four eggs for quite a few years."
Using a general rule of hatching, Walters says the best estimate is 30-32 days after the third egg is laid. That puts a breaking of shells at May 15 or 16.
The falcons of 2013 laid four eggs but only one hatched. That bird, named Solo, crashed into a building while learning to fly on July 3 and eventually died from its injuries.
The female from last year has returned, but she has a new male with her. Observers of the webcam site managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources say the new male seems to be showing more interest in incubating than his predecessor.
"People watching the live webcam are saying the female has had to chase the male off the eggs; that he is reluctant to leave his duties," Walters said. "That is an encouraging sign."
Walters hypothesizes that the new male could be the same falcon that showed up last year; soon afterward the male from 2013 was found injured with a dislocated shoulder.
"It is possible that the injury could have happened during an aggression battle for territory and that this could be the bird that did it," Walters said. "It is hard to tell."
The male from last year was eventually euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.
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