Best Place to Watch Peregrine Falcons

Critics' Picks

Uptown Theater

4816 N. Broadway

Thanks in large part to a successful reintroduction program in the 80s and 90s, the peregrine falcon is the official bird of Chicago, doing its best to keep the pigeon population manageable. But who’s actually ever seen one in the “wild” in the city? Peregrines are still seen from time to time perched atop the Metropolitan Correctional Center and other buildings in the South Loop area, but the Field Museum’s Stephanie Ware reports on her Chicago Peregrine Falcon Blog that the “prison pair” hasn’t nested at the MCC for a couple of years.

There are an estimated 20 nesting pairs in the city, and Mary Hennen, who heads the Field’s Peregrine Project, recommends the Uptown Theater, where a couple of peregrines have been nesting for years. One recent Sunday morning I drove by and spotted a frenzy of activity: one falcon had apparently brought home a kill and was in the process of feeding two chicks recently banded by Hennen. Evidently the birds, known for favoring cliff-dwelling nests, have taken to the barren backside of the abandoned theater. That’s just one more reason for the preservation of the glorious old building—as if we needed another. For point-and-click birders, one surefire place to see peregrines is on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Peregrine Falcon Nest cam, affixed atop University Hall: tiny.cc/peregrines.