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Falcon nesting box removed from Fargo tower; no plans for reinstallation

During the building renovation, the falcon platform was removed for safety reasons, a bank official said.

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Four falcon chicks nest on the former Bank of the West tower in downtown Fargo.
Special to The Forum
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FARGO — Peregrine falcons no longer have a nesting home on top of the old Bank of the West building in downtown Fargo, but the new owners hope the animal kingdom’s fastest creatures won’t be gone forever.

Starting in 2001, falcons made their home in a nesting box on the 122-foot tower at 520 Main Ave. Their lives were livestreamed to viewers across the world until about four years ago, through a program run by Audubon Dakota.

“We had our falcon cam up there, but we removed all the equipment because it was damaged by weather and it was too expensive to maintain,” said Sarah Hewitt, director of conservation for Audubon Dakota.

Falcons are cliff dwellers, and they're fast. While making a dive, peregrine falcons can reach speeds of more than 200 mph, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last year, Bell Bank bought the building, and extensive renovations to the interior and exterior began this year and will continue into 2023, said Karen Stensrud, Bell Bank's vice president for content marketing strategy.

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“Bell Bank has removed that nesting box, and if you look at the building you can tell, it was on the east side of the building. I am an amateur birdwatcher myself, and it was great for the community. There has been a lot of community interest,” Stensrud said.

Hewitt agreed. “People were really intrigued by it. Each year at least two to three baby falcons were raised there. It was quite the fan favorite,” Hewitt said.

During the building renovation, the falcon platform was removed for safety reasons, Stensrud said.

“It’s really an issue of safety for birds and the people,” Stensrud said, adding that Bell Bank does not have any plans to reinstall the nesting spot, but hopes that someone will take an interest in putting a nesting box somewhere else.

“We haven’t had success in connecting with an entity that is interested, but we’re still hopeful that there may be someone else who steps forward to host a nesting box. If there is a way that we can make that happen, we’d be open to that,” Stensrud said.

Because of the extensive changes planned for the building, which will become Bell Bank's new headquarters , there is no space to reinstall the falcon nesting platform, Stensrud said.

“I would love to help find a different space for them, and so far I have not been successful in making that happen,” Stensrud said.

A new nesting box for peregrine falcons must be placed at a high altitude.

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“A three-story building won’t work for them. The nesting spot would have to go up high enough so they can feel they can safely nest there, and be a base for them to start hunting from,” Hewitt said.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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