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Posted on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

4 falcon chicks hatched atop University of Michigan hospital named Maize, Blue, Howard and Woodson

By Kellie Woodhouse

Football is king at the University of Michigan.


The Ann Arbor school has named four peregrine falcon chicks that recently hatched in a nesting box atop the University Hospital. The names include: Maize; Blue; Howard, after famous Wolverine wide receiver.

Woodson and Howard are the latest two Heisman Trophy winners at U-M. Desmond Howard; and Woodson, after the former U-M player Charles Woodson.


One of the four falcon chicks that recently hatched atop the U-M hospital.

Courtesy photo by Barb Baldinger

It's the second year in a row falcon chicks hatched at U-M have been given football-related names.

The chicks hatched around April 29. This is the third straight year a pair of peregrine falcons has successfully nested on the roof of University Hospital.

To name the birds, U-M launched a contest on its Facebook page. Ann, Angell and Mary Sue were all contenders for the names of the two female birds, but Maize and Blue ended up winning. The names Brady and Denard 'Shoelace' Robinson were runners up for the two male falcons.

It's been a bit of a bumpy ride for the birds. Late last week, three of the young falcons attempted to fly and were unable to get back up to the nest. They have been taken to a rehabilitator, who will work with the chicks to strengthen their flight muscles before being released back to the nest site.

The chicks join a growing family of peregrine falcons hatched in Ann Arbor.

Last year the four chicks that hatched atop the hospital were named Bo, Fritz, Lloyd and Yost, the names referencing former head football coaches Bo Schembechler, Herbert "Fritz" Crisler, Lloyd Carr and Fielding Yost.


The mother falcon, which nests atop U-M's hospital and one of the school's dormitories.

Courtesy photo by Barb Baldinger

Peregrine falcons are endangered in Michigan. U-M's campus has been home to two grown peregrines since 2006. In spring 2010 the falcons successfully hatched a trio of chicks. Another nesting box has been installed on North Quad.

In urban areas, Falcons tend to nest on tall buildings or bridges because of their similarity to high cliffs and ledges. When officials realized the pair wasn't successfully nesting on U-M's 192-foot tall Burton Memorial Tower, their nesting place of choice, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources helped set up a nesting box atop University Hospital.

Peregrine falcons often use the same nest site for many years, so it's possible that U-M's campus could be the birth spot for more chicks in future years.

The chicks are banded so they can be tracked by the Department of Natural Resources.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

How did the parents know where the new nest box had been put or even that there was one in the area?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Great story! Hopefully there is a happy reunion in the future when they are returned to the nest!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

This is cruelty to animals! The Mary-Sue branding machine has struck again! Poor little birds--humans who think a university is defined by a silly game have taken them over. Birds know better- they like to eat round things, not silly leather things that look like ,,,,


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6 p.m.

"They have been taken to a rehabilitator, who will work with the chicks to strengthen their flight muscles before being released back to the nest site." Have to wonder how this will be done or if it's even a good idea at all? I'd assume this separates them from their mother? Kind of defeats the purpose of natural selection. Also, if these birds are to be left to survive in their habitat, any human interaction is likely to further hurt their chances of success.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Just to reassure you: if such rehab hasn't been successful, then there would be no rehabilitators. The motivation is pretty obvious: rehabbing wildlife takes a hopeless "naturally occurring" situation and provides a chance of survival. As for natural selection: peregrines are a threatened species - meaning threatened by manmade conditions in this case. So saving peregrines actually helps them where natural nesting sites are rare. The original nesting choice of the parent falcons was for Burton Tower, which proved unsuitable. All that was done was to provide them with a safer choice (which they apparently made themselves) at U of M Hospital.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

Is it just me or does the falcon chick in the picture look like it didn't what to be photographed? Actually it might even look a little scared.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

Probably true: such chicks as these and Barn Owl Chicks instinctively react to camera lenses as if they were a staring eye. Staring in wild animals (and in dogs) is often interpreted by the animal as a predator presence or 'threat.'


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

How can you tell which of these almost identical balls of feathers are which - which is Maize, which is Howard? - short of reading the numbers on the band (or in the embedded chip)?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

They will be taught to answer to their names, of course. Not.

Kellie Woodhouse

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Howard will be the one striking the Heisman pose.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Wonderful...and these birds of prey are keeping downtown critter nuisance free!


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Do they eat squirrels??!!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

Correct: both the peregrines and our own "Urban" Red Tailed Hawks feed on the plentiful pigeons and squirrels in town. The pigeons know it too - sometimes you see a patrolling peregrine being harassed by a flock of pigeons far above the downtown rooftops. One of the most amazing sights I've seen in town is when a peregrine falcon chased a pigeon northbound over the tops of cars on Fifth Ave. The two birds were doing 60, easy. And when the pigeon got to Huron, it made an astounding right bank and back up over the roof of the building which occupies the hotel and sport bar and came back down to street level going back the way it had come. The pigeon completely outmaneuvered the hawk with that trick. Mostly though, the only evidence of this aerial combat are the pieces of pigeons laying on sidewalks and lawns in that area.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

81 - that is great news! It will keep the pigeon population in check!:)


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Peregrines mostly eat medium sized birds. But fortunately, this includes pigeons which are in abundance around town.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Does that include our good Mayor and the City Council? lol :) Sorry, could not help myself.........:)


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Any information on the fate of the chicks from 2010, or last years chicks? Since they are banded, it should be able to be determined if they survived, and where they are currently living. Since this article only references Ann Arbor to being home to 2 adult falcons, am I to assume that the other chicks have left the area or did not survive?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

A2brooksie, the young peregrines will eventually go their separate ways and move on to territories of their own. It's quite possible that those are the only two adults in this immediate area for that reason.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

This is a great story and I hope and pray these birds make a come back with the nesting boxes at the U of M Hospital.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

Hi Judy- These birds have been around the hospital the past few years: 2011: 2012: