(Photography by Tom Rossiter)

Bird brain

Peregrine falcons think UChicago’s buildings make excellent cliff substitutes.

While shooting images for a book on University architecture last year, freelancer Tom Rossiter was photobombed by this peregrine falcon.

Peregrine eggs were first discovered in a Cobb Hall rain gutter in 2005. (The cliff-dwelling peregrines are not choosy about whether the cliffs originated in the Anthropocene.) Unfortuately, eggs laid in gutters usually wash away. In 2006, Barry O’Quinn of Facilities Services built and installed falcon boxes on the Administration Building and Pick Hall; no eggs have hatched successfully yet.

Now off the endangered species list, peregrines are still considered threatened in Illinois. The two on campus form one of about 20 breeding pairs in the Chicago area.