In spite of multiple devastating hard drive failures over the years, I was very happy to find this weekend that I somehow managed to hang on to the original file of one of my favorite-ever photos, my Peregrine falcon friend on a window ledge of one of the highest floors of Detroit’s abandoned Whittier Hotel in 2013.
I was rather startled by a thump on the window behind me while I was setting up a different shot of the beautiful Renaissance hotel, which once hosted the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Mae West, and other celebrities visiting and performing in Detroit. I was even more surprised to turn around and find one of the falcons only feet away, on the other side of a thin, weather-beaten pane of glass. I had never been so close to one before, and was pretty nervous about the number of nearby windows that were broken out, compounded with the fact that she was known to dive-bomb scrappers picking at the antique architecture.
Thankfully, she wasn’t interested in coming inside, instead preferring to stare me down through the one window, flapping her wings threateningly and hopping around while I took pictures with both my camera and my phone. Her mate sailed around the building, screeching an intruder alert.
I took a few quick moments to get my pictures before heading out to leave the growing family in peace, never to return since they clearly did not enjoy visitors. The DNR was well aware of their presence at the old hotel, where falcons have been nesting since 1987. Back then, five birds were released into the city to try to help rebuild their endangered population, ultimately with great success.
Once concerns about the impact of vandals and metal scrappers disrupting their nest circulated through local media, the property was properly sealed up. These days, they’re enjoying a much quieter lifestyle on the roof of the old Whittier.
(I’m not a falcon expert, so there is a chance I’m mistaken and this is Dad, not Mom. Falcon pros, correct me if I’m wrong.)