Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Further Information on Indiana Peregrine in Costa Rica

We hope you enjoyed the posting on March 21 of the peregrine falcon hatched and banded in Indiana, who then made her way to Costa Rica.  Pablo Camacho provided photos and identification of the bird, along with recording her activities.  He sent a post to our Facebook page, with further information in Spanish.

Dr. Luis Cruz, former TRC clinical resident from Costa Rica, has kindly translated that post into English, and collected some photos to send along to TRC friends. 

We thank everyone for sharing in this story.  We also ask that if anyone spots the peregrine if she heads back to the US, please let us know!

Inmaculada. The Indiana Peregrine Falcon wintering in Costa Rica

Pablo Camacho (
Translation: Dr. Luis Cruz-Martinez
So many centuries, so many worlds, so much space… and to coincide…Just like Alberto Escobar’s famous song: that’s the feeling when “you find the needle in the haystack”. 

 Just imagine our luck: finding here in our own city and town, a banded peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) from the thousands of falcons that migrate through America. In North America, peregrine falcons are banded for monitoring and research purposes. Each band is different and it works like their ID. This particular bird allowed us to get close enough to identify its band numbers. Usually, these birds perch high up in towers or skyscrapers which make their identification challenging.
On January 31st at 7:18 am, I witnessed a young Peregrine falcon hunting a Rock dove (Columba livia) in the west side of the Immaculate Conception Church, in Cubujuquí, Heredia, Costa Rica. To my surprise I noticed a purple band on its right leg and a black (78) over red band (D) on its left leg. Here is when my true fascination began.
“Immaculada” photographed in the southeastern side of the Immaculate Conception Church in Heredia, Costa Rica on January 31st 2013.

I then went to the Midwest Peregrine Falcon database ( to track down its band number (b/r  78/D FWS 1687-30263) and found out that this female falcon hatched on May 1st 2012 in Whiting Lake, Indiana, over 2200 miles from this costarican town. It is so exciting to think about the ordeals and the mysteries surrounding this young bird’s journey. This is something that I’m passionate about!
Digging further into her story, both of her parents hatched in Illinois. “Hughes” (7-yr old; FWS band # 2206-49471) and Nancy (11-yrs old; FWS Nº 1807-77797) are “siblings” from different years (2006 and 2002 respectively). “Immaculate” has a sister of which her whereabouts are unknown. 
 “Immaculate’s” life history (
On March 14th around 2:53 pm we were being interviewed by a local TV news channel regarding her sighting a few months ago when she suddenly and unexpectedly appeared before us! There she was after 43 days since I first saw her, she perched in the same spot and this time the people really started to notice her. In fact some people started to call her the “Inmaculada” la peregrina (Immaculate Peregrine).
“Immaculada Peregrine”  has captivated the attention of many people that walk by the park every day.

Before the observations from March 14th, we observed, almost on a daily basis, a young peregrine falcon flying and hunting doves in Heredia’s Central Park and Los Angeles Park. While it was probably her, only on 4 occasions we were able to see her leg bands. In one occasion, she hunted 3 doves in a single day! 

Another interesting fact about her, is that my friend Jerry Jourdan recorded when she first started her journey towards her wintering grounds on August 28th 2012 in Pointe Mouillee, Monroe, Michigan (, about 220 miles east from the nest she hatched from. 

I’m not a fan of naming wild animals but in this case it was necessary to give her a name because of the great acceptance and reaction among the inhabitants of Heredia. This has been a wonderful educational tool to connect with people and to raise awareness about the marvelous but hidden phenomenon of raptor migration that occurs in Costa Rica ever year. In the northern slopes of Costa Rica, in the Talamanca Mountain ranges, we can observe the second largest concentration of migratory raptors in the world! ( 

Her name has nothing to do with her physical appearance because immaculate means spotless, clean, or free of stains and the plumage pattern of young peregrine falcons are full of “stains”. Her name has no religious connotations either. It is derived from the geographical location where she was first spotted, Heredia city, Heredia, Costa Rica. This city was founded in 1763 from a village named Immaculate Conception of Cubujuquí and also because of the bird’s preferences of eating doves in the city’s churches. 

It is noteworthy to mention that peregrine falcons have a high fidelity for their migratory route and therefore, as long as she lives, she will probably keep coming back here to eat a few more doves and I’m sure the inhabitants of Heredia will anxiously wait for
her returns. 

I now ask our Central and North American brothers and sisters to be on the look for Immaculate’s passing and movements so we can keep putting together the amazing puzzle of her migratory journey.


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