Detroit: The Whittier Falcon

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.)

12 thoughts on “Detroit: The Whittier Falcon

  1. What outstanding photos, and I’m so happy for you that you found them!

    I’m borderline paranoid about a hard-drive failure wiping out my photos. I have an external hard drive and software that shadows my main hard drive to it. I’d also love to find a viable cloud storage solution.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was a rather heartbreaking way to learn a lesson. I got an external drive as well, but I use Google Drive for storage. So far, it’s worked for me really well, and it makes it easy to send links to folders for freelance projects. Also, the free office suite is pretty irresistible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Magnificent photos — so glad they survived your multiple hard-drive crashes! I like the second one, especially, in which the bird appears to be seriously irritated. Sorry I’m of no help in determining whether it’s an irritated boy-falcon or an irritated girl-falcon, though. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What great photos! I’ve never seen one up close like that before, although they do come annually and nest way up on the old Hotel Utah (now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Office Building). They’re magnificent birds! I’d love to see your shots of the Whitter Hotel too…did you do a spread on those somewhere?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I haven’t done a post on the Whittier yet, I’m still trying to accumulate the few photos I managed to post around the internet before my hard drive crashed for good, but there are a handful out there. It was a gorgeous hotel with super cool penthouses where the performers used to stay, so I’ll be sure to go into further detail 🙂


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