The Evanston Public Library is about to have some new inhabitants. A nest located in one of the building’s towers is home to four eggs, and with spring just around the corner, the chicks are almost ready to make their appearance. However, this is not the first time these feathery friends have made a home in Evanston.
For the past 8 years, the Evanston Public library has been home to more than just books; it has been the preferred nesting place for multiple families of peregrine falcons. According to Lesley Williams, head of adult services at the Evanston Public Library, the falcons first started nesting at the library in 2004.
“We don’t really know how they discovered the library as a nesting area,” said Williams. “It was just a miracle of nature, I guess.”
This year the Evanston falcons have chosen a pillar on the south side of the library to build their nest. Once the eggs hatch, it takes about a month for the birds to fledge.
“When they’re getting ready to fledge it’s like showtime,” explained Neal Ney, the library director from 1992-2007. “They’re standing upon the ledge flapping their wings and the babies are screaming bloody murder.”
As the falcons continue to return to the Library year after year, residents become more interested in them. Deborah Cohen, a Loyola University employee and avid bird watcher, started a Yahoo! group in 2009 for the falcon fans to keep in touch.
“For years I just thought wouldn’t it be nice if there was just a place where people could go on their own initiative and just post whenever they wanted to,” Cohen explained.
Cohen and other falcon lovers can keep track of the nest on the Falcon Cam, a 24/7 webcam that overlooks the falcon nest. They can also visit a personalized Facebook page. Rumor has it that Nona the female may even have her own Twitter feed soon.
But once the eggs hatch, she’ll have her wings busy with the chicks. Every year staff from the Field Museum in Chicago come to tag the young peregrines before they learn to fly. The event has grown in popularity since 2004; Ney explained that the library publicizes it much more today than they did the first few years.
“I think they’ve been getting 300-400 people for the banding,” Ney said. “There have been school groups that take the day and come to the library for the banding.”
Be sure to keep an eye out around the Evanston skies for the new arrivals. The birds are expected to hatch within the next couple of weeks.