History of The WoodmenLife Falcons


Learn about the conservation effort that brought them here in 1988 and how they've soared since.

woodmenlife falcon history

How Did They Get Here?

In the 1950s, the peregrine falcon population plummeted. The species was placed on the endangered list as scientists bred peregrines in captivity and released them into wild areas.

Some of these birds migrated to skyscrapers in eastern cities. As cliff dwellers, peregrine falcons flourished in urban settings, where tall buildings are plentiful. An abundance of pigeons and starlings supplied the falcons' diet.

Biologists recognized this adaptation to city buildings and began releasing them on urban rooftops. In 1988, the Nebraska Peregrine Falcon Project released a pair of peregrine falcons atop the WoodmenLife Tower, which was the tallest building in downtown Omaha at the time.

Early Milestones for the WoodmenLife Tower Falcons

1988: Seven falcons hatched atop WoodmenLife Tower. Five survive. None return the following year.

1989: Five falcons hatched. Two of the five, Woody and Sky King, return in later years to establish nests.

1992: Woody and mate, Windy, hatch three chicks – Aerial, Zenith and Skywalker. These chicks are the first to hatch in Nebraska in nearly a century.

Falcons develop a family tree as every year following, a nesting pair hatches chicks atop the WoodmenLife Tower.

Where Are They Now?

Willow, a female who hatched in 2009, was found nesting in Elgin, Ill. with an unbanded male. In 2011, she laid three eggs, but unfortunately, none hatched. Visit the Chicago Peregrine Falcon Blog to learn more about Willow and other peregrine falcons in the Chicago area.

Hope and Doorly have been nesting atop the Westar Energy building in Topeka, Kan., the past five years. Hope, a female who hatched to Zeus and Amelia in 2002, and Doorly, a male who hatched to Zeus and Winnie in 1999, were driven off this spring by a pair of peregrines from Lincoln, Neb., named Boreas and Nemaha. There are more than 800 videos of Hope and Doorly on YouTube.com. Search on Topeka Falcon Cam.

Zenith, who hatched in 1992, has nested in Cleveland, OH, since 1993. She is one of the top producers of chicks in the midwest. On March 28, 2002, Zenith was killed in a battle for territory by SW, a female falcon from Pittsburgh, PA.

Sky King, who was released in 1989, was sighted in Paracas, Peru, in South America in February 1995. Paracas is located 124 miles south of Lima, Peru. He is believed to be part of a nesting pair in Lincoln, NE.

Sokol, who hatched in 1994, was killed in Chicago, IL in 1999, in a battle for territory.

Goldie, who hatched in 1999, was nesting in Fargo, ND. She did not return in the spring of 2002 and presumably did not survive the winter.

Doorly, a male who hatched in 1999, and, Hope, a female hatched in 2002, are nesting in Topeka, KS.

Husker, a female who hatched in 1998, is nesting in Red Wing, MN Husker was originally thought to be a male until DNA tests on its blood proved it was, in fact, a female.

If you know the whereabouts of WoodmenLife Tower falcons, please e-mail us: service@woodmen.org

WoodmenLife Falcons Family Tree

Learn about the dozens of birds that ruled the Downtown Omaha skyline.

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WoodmenLife Falcons Timeline

Explore the highs and lows of each falcon season since 1988.

VIEW THE TIMELINE

Falcon Cameras Around the Country

Lincoln, NE WebCam at the Capital

Rochester, N.Y. Rfalconcam

Fort Wayne, Ind., Camera

Minnesota Power

Pennsylvania's Peregrine Falcon Page

Fargo Falcons, ND

Waukegan, Illinois EarthCam

Peregrine Falcon Information

Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery

The Raptor Center

The Peregrine Fund

National Audubon Society

Audubon Society of Omaha

All About Birds

The Raptor Center News Blog

Bird Watching Information

Bird Watching

Bird Watching for Couch Potatos