Peregrine falcons were first introduced into downtown Cincinnati in 1990 as part of the Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project. Other cities in Ohio such as Columbus, Akron, and Dayton participated as well, releasing juvenile falcons each spring until 1992. The falcons were banded so that they could be tracked and monitored. Peregrine falcon numbers had plummeted in the 1960s due to the use of pesticides like DDT. The 27th floor of the Fourth and Vine Tower was selected as the site to build a nesting platform because the skyscraper could simulate the high cliffs that the peregrines prefer.
In 1993, Cincinnati had its first successful nest at Fourth and Vine. The female was a falcon that had been released in Pictured Rocks, Michigan, as part of the recovery program, while the male, Falcor, had been released in Cincinnati. Together they produced just four chicks from 1993 to 1999, with several failed nesting attempts.
In the spring of 2000, Falcor teamed up with a new female named Princess, who hatched in Wisconsin two years earlier. Over the next three years, Falcor and Princess successfully fledged seven young. In 2003, Falcor must have encountered some difficulty as he disappeared from the area and there was no nesting attempt. Luckily, Princess stayed in the area, found a new mate, and has successfully raised chicks every year since. In fact, she has added 28 young to her “chick count” since 2004. Most recently, two males named Skyline and Red Legs were hatched and banded in the spring of 2012. With a success record like that, she truly is the “princess” of the Queen City!
In 2010, while learning to fly, one of Princess’ young, a female named Flo, crashed into the window of a nearby skyscraper and fell to the street below. It is not unusual for the young birds to have encounters with glass as it is hard for them to see. Rescued by concerned citizens, Flo was taken to RAPTOR, Inc., a rehabilitation center for birds of prey. There she was nursed back to health on a diet primarily of quail. After demonstrating that she could fly and bank for turns in a large flight cage, Flo was taken to the observation deck of the Carew Tower and released. She made it back to the Fourth and Vine Tower, where she was successfully reunited with her family and became the inspiration for Harriett’s story.
In Cincinnati, the ODNR Division of Wildlife monitors the falcon nest at the Fourth and Vine Tower via live streaming video and audio. You can view this video and get updates on the birds' activities by going to www.raptorinc.org and clicking on "view live cam".