Fans have reported the possibility of a new male in the downtown Columbus territory and concern over the lack of sightings of the resident male, Spark. The lack of observations of Spark are not necessarily cause for concern at this time of the year. Courtship and nesting occur in late winter into spring and outside of this time frame some peregrines do migrate (remember that the Latin name for peregrine means “wanderer”).
So it is possible that Spark has migrated out of the area and in his absence another male is investigating the territory. There are any number of falcons out there (called “floaters”) that do investigate territories as they can, especially during migration. These floaters can be unmated falcons or falcons with a territory that just happen to be migrating (perhaps Spark is investigating another territory wherever he may be?).
It is also possible that the other male came into the territory and battled Spark for it. In that case, the lack of sightings of Spark would indicate that the new male was the victor. However, most territorial battles occur between females and the lack of this other male’s assertiveness in accessing the ledge (and lack of witnesses downtown of such an altercation) would imply that a territorial battle did not occur.
Peregrines maintain the same mate from year to year but quickly find a replacement when/if something happens to one of the pair. Therefore, the current situation may just be a case of when the cat’s away (Spark), the mice (Durand and the new male) will play-so to speak!! The birds have no loyalty to a mate if the mate is not present. Having the cameras running even in the “off season” definitely helps us see more of what goes on. But don’t forget, the downtown territory is large and the cameras only show about 25 feet of ledge space. Therefore, a lot of the daily action and interactions of the peregrines can and does go on outside of our view.
Our role is to watch and learn and note what players we have when nesting season comes around again early 2017. Any photos confirming leg bands on a peregrine that is not Durand (or a peregrine lacking leg bands) will be helpful in tracking which male(s) are confirmed in the territory.
To review, Durand's leg bands are: right: silver USGS band; left: black/black 32/X
Spark's leg bands are: right: purple USGS band; left: black/red 32/B
Only time will tell if Spark or the mysterious visitor--or another male altogether--will be the resident male next year. As information becomes available, it will be shared here.