(Hafoc) - hatched in Rochester, New York
Five Peregrine Falcon chicks hatched between May 12 and May 14 in the
nest box on the Kodak tower in Rochester, New York. On June 11,
2004, a satellite transmitter was placed on one of the young males, named
Hafoc (pronounced HAV-oc), after the Old English word for falcon or hawk,
dating back to a period between the 6th and 12th centuries. We
thank Mark Nash of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation for
contributing his expertise to the preparation and fitting of the
transmitter harness, and the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation for their support of this research.
transmitter is powered by solar energy, and should continue to broadcast
for two to three years. Data received will be summarized on this
page in reverse chronological order on a weekly basis, and at times more
frequently. Maps will be updated as Hafoc begins to travel further
away from Rochester, as frequently as necessary to illustrate his movements.
eastern Peregrine Falcon population has been increasing steadily in recent
years, but remains relatively small, and there is still very little known
about the survival and dispersal of juveniles in particular.
Satellite telemetry provides us a rare opportunity to track in detail the
movements of individual birds to gain insights into some of these
combined weight of the transmitter and harness is just over 20 grams,
which is less than 4% of a male peregrine falcon's average weight.
It is attached to the bird as a backpack, with the harness made of soft
and flexible neoprene. The harness has been sewn together with
biodegradable thread, which will allow the transmitter to fall off after
approximately two years. Previous studies suggest that even in the
meantime though, the transmitter is not expected to influence the bird's
behaviour in any way. For further information on the technical
aspects of satellite telemetry, check out our methods
section and the links contained therein.
or comments? Please e-mail MRF Research Director Marcel
recent (January - March 2005) locations:
movements around Rochester, June - December 2004:
movements outside the Rochester area, 2004-2005:
After more than two months of wondering about Hafoc's fate, we are
sorry to report that we have received confirmation of his death from
biologist Michael Allen of the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation. He reports that a homeowner in Rochester located
Hafoc's body in late May, lying beneath a white pine near a
roadside. Hafoc's condition suggests that he suffered a vehicle
collision, likely at the time that his transmitter suddenly fell silent in
track of Hafoc after less than a year was disappointing in itself, but we
had hoped that at least Hafoc might have survived. However, the
reality is that most raptors have a high first-year mortality rate, in
which fewer than half of those which fledge successfully reach
maturity. Our preliminary analysis of a small sample of urban
eastern Peregrine Falcons over the past decade actually indicates that
first-year survival is only around 35%. Low as this seems, it is
well within the range historically quoted for Peregrine Falcons. It
therefore isn't a concern for the fate of the population, but it does mean
that in research of this nature, the odds are 2:1 that the bird we pick
will not survive its first year - and unfortunately this time we didn't
beat those odds.
were eagerly looking forward to learning whether Hafoc would finally move
out of Rochester as the breeding season approached, but that mystery will
forever remain. While casual observers might believe that we learned
little from a bird that never even flew out of state, that's far from
true. Staying close to Rochester might not have been so exciting for
us to watch, but provided us with valuable data on the local dispersal
movements of a wild urban juvenile - patterns which remain largely
undocumented, but are potentially very significant in terms of
understanding the dynamics and long-term sustainability of the new urban
populations. Hafoc was just one individual and we can't generalize
to all Peregrine Falcons based on his behaviour, but it has given us a new
appreciation for the winter movements of a non-migratory juvenile.
this final update on Hafoc's page, we would like to take the opportunity
to again thank our partners in this project, Eastman Kodak, the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Genesee Valley Audubon
Society, and most importantly all of you who have provided moral and/or
financial support for this research, and have shown such an interest in
learning about the lives of Peregrine Falcons. Stay tuned for news
about other projects by checking the MRF news
page for updates on all of our research programs.
From March 2 through March 5, Hafoc was fairly consistently in a small
area on the north side of Rochester, in the area of Hwy 104 and the
Genesee River. This is the same location he has visited previously
on January 30 and February 18. Unfortunately, we have not received
any reports from Hafoc's transmitter since the afternoon of March 5.
are many possible explanations for this. Of course the worst-case
scenario is that the transmitter has been damaged/destroyed while still
being worn Hafoc. For an urban bird (especially one that has been
observed feeding on the ground in recent months) the possibility of
vehicle collisions certainly exists. However, there are many other
plausible explanations. The transmitter harness was designed to fall
off eventually, and it could be that it did so much sooner than
intended. If the transmitter falls off and lands in a place where
the solar panels can't be recharged, there would be silence like we are
experiencing. Alternatively, the transmitter may have suffered a
premature failure, as sometimes happens without warning. Given the
multiple information relays involved, it is also possible that the
transmitter continues to function, but the message is being lost somewhere
else along the way - we are checking into this.
this point, we have no evidence supporting any of these scenarios, but are
investigating all possibilities. For those in the area, please keep
an eye out for Hafoc, and report
any possible sightings to us. Since it is possible other immature
peregrines are in the area (either siblings of Hafoc from last summer, or
unrelated birds now moving through the area on migration), try to look for
leg bands, and note as much detail as possible. Thank you for your
assistance; we will provide updates as they become available.
As spring approaches, Hafoc remains around Rochester. Most of
his recent locations have been between the city and Lake Ontario, ranging
from Greece in the west to a bit beyond Irondequoit in the east. He
returned to the Cobb's Hill area southeast of Rochester yesterday, but
today was back to the north again.
The most recent report from Hafoc came in late on February 18, from
the same location he was at on January 30, roughly 5 kilometres north of
Rochester, and a bit east of the Genesee River. This report is the
strongest we have received in a while, indicating both a high precision
regarding this location, and a general recharging of the batteries as the
days get longer and the solar panels receive more exposure to the sun
As mid-February approaches, Hafoc continues to move restlessly around
the perimeter of Rochester. Over the past two weeks, he has ranged
in most directions - north on the 1st, south on the 4th, central on the
5th, northwest on the 7th, southwest on the 8th, northeast on the 12th,
and finally southeast today! During this period Hafoc has also been
seen on the ground with prey near Greece on February 7, and 'heard' in the
Brighton area earlier today by Dick Holbert, listening for Hafoc's signal
with his radio receiver.
Southwest Rochester, NY.
Over the past week, reports have from Hafoc have started to come in
for frequently again, presumably a reflection of the gradually lengthening
days and especially the greater number of sunny days experienced
recently. Not surprisingly though, the data have only reinforced
what we already know, that Hafoc is hanging around Rochester, moving
around the perimeter of the city with little clear preference for any one
spot. As of this afternoon, he was again on the north side, but a
couple of days ago he was off to the southwest in the direction of the
airport, and the day before that, off to the northwest again.
South Rochester, NY.
On January 14, Hafoc returned to virtually the same spot south of
Rochester where he was roughly two months earlier, on November 12.
The following day he was back on the northeast side of the city, close to
his August 27 position. Two more recent positions have been
received, from the southwest side of Rochester, but both were of very poor
quality, so it may be that Hafoc isn't bouncing around the perimeter quite
than half a year has passed, and aside from a couple of brief and
relatively (for a peregrine) short side trips to other parts of New York
state, Hafoc has remained remarkably faithful to Rochester. It's
unlikely that he will make any substantial move in the midst of winter, so
we are likely to see similar patterns for at least another month or
two. At that point, we will watch with particular interest to see
whether Hafoc continues to remain near home, or strikes off in search of a
territory and mate.
it would have been fascinating to track Hafoc to a series of exotic (and
warm!) locales in the Caribbean and beyond, learning about his local
movements over the course of his first year is equally valuable.
Although Hafoc is just one bird, and we must be cautious in the
conclusions we draw from his behaviour, it seems unlikely that he is
entirely unique in his decision not to migrate. Rather, it suggests
that both in Rochester and elsewhere, at least a portion of the young
produced do not disperse far within their first year. To our
knowledge, there have been no sightings of Hafoc since mid-summer in which
his band numbers were confirmed, thus satellite telemetry has been
critical in allowing us to determine his residency. It may seem like
a small detail to know that a young peregrine has remained close to home
for 8 months, but such information is still very rare, and allows us to
consider various theories about population structure and size, as well as
resource availability. We hope that Hafoc will continue to provide
us tidbits of insight into peregrine biology in the months to come.
Winter's reduced hours of daylight continue to limit the quantity and
quality of reports from Hafoc. Some data with very questionable
accuracy came from the Cobb's Hill area east of Rochester on January 4,
and yesterday afternoon a more reliable transmission came in from a couple
of kilometres southeast of Hilton, on the northwest side of
South Rochester, NY.
As the year draws toward a close, Hafoc remains around
Rochester. Yesterday afternoon he was a couple of kilometres
southwest of the city centre along Highway 33; on Christmas Eve he was
about the same distance away, but south along the Genesee River. The
only more significant movement we've seen recently was an apparent flight
northwest to the Lake Ontario shoreline around Kendall on December
20. However, the data that day were flagged as being of low
accuracy, so it may be that Hafoc wasn't in fact that far away from
Rochester after all.
South Rochester, NY.
A bit of sunshine the past couple of days brought Hafoc's transmitter back toward full
strength, and allowed us to get a series of reports indicating that he's
back in the Cobb's Hill
area southeast of Rochester again. Of course we have no idea where
he has been on other days recently, but given that it has been a while
since he was anywhere but near Rochester, it's probably a safe bet that
his current location is fairly typical.
Very little in the way of news from Hafoc over the past week. In
fact, the only relatively clear location identified was on December 4,
along the Genesee River, just 100 metres north of the High Falls bridge
near Kodak. This would be the closest Hafoc has been to home in over
two months, but given the statistical uncertainty involved with this
report, it's possible he actually wasn't as close as that.
at the voltage readings in the data, it appears that the dreary weather
and short daylight hours have combined to limit the transmitter's ability
to generate power from the solar cells. As a result, the few
locations that have come through have been of limited accuracy, and most
days the voltage has been insufficient for the signal to reach the
satellite at all. Hopefully whenever the sun returns, Hafoc will sit
in the open for a while to allow the batteries to fully recharge!
West Rochester, NY.
No rest for Hafoc! After writing the update on November 30, we
got the update from him that evening, only to learn he had returned to the
Cobb's Hill area southeast of Rochester once more. Then on December
2 he was back out on the west side of the city again, near the junction of
highways 390 and 490. As of this afternoon though, he was as close
to 'home' as he has been in a long time, just 1.5 kilometres to the north
of the nest box on the Kodak tower.
West Rochester, NY.
On Sunday, Hafoc reported to us again from the east side of Rochester,
then the next day he was back within a couple of kilometres of the Lake
Ontario shoreline, a bit west of Webster. Interestingly, we just
received word from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation
that the last time he was in that area a month ago, he was spotted flying
along the shoreline by an observer at Durand Eastman Beach on October 25,
and the fact that he was wearing a transmitter and antenna was noticed and
West Rochester, NY.
Not much to report this week. On November 21, Hafoc had switched
back to the west side of Rochester, along highway 390, roughly midway
between highways 31 and 104. Since then, the only signals that have
come through have been fuzzy and inaccurate. Unfortunately, one of
the limitations of solar-powered satellite transmitters is that in our
climate their effectiveness is compromised in winter both by the shorter
daylight hours and the increased cloud cover. Had Hafoc headed
south, odds are we would still be getting more regular reports from him;
as it is, we may be in for somewhat sporadic results until the days start
getting appreciably longer again. Of course, he could still migrate
and save us the wait...
Back to familiar ground (or skies) again - as of today, Hafoc has
returned to the Cobb's Hill area on the east side of Rochester (see the
Nov 1-5 dot on the map ... things are getting a bit crowded and we may
have to revamp the map more drastically soon if Hafoc doesn't start moving
further afield!). Since the last update, Hafoc has also spent at
least a couple of days on the west side of Rochester, as close as 2
kilometres to the nest site at Kodak on the 17th, and a bit further out
toward Elmgrove Road and Highway 31 the day before.
No sooner does Hafoc settle into a pattern than he breaks it
again! The latest report places him now on the north side of
Rochester, just a bit west of central Irondequoit.
South Rochester, NY.
It seems that for now at least, Hafoc is staying on the south side of
Rochester. He has shifted a couple of kilometres southeast from his
last position, closer to Henrietta.
South Rochester, NY.
Hafoc again remained around the Cobb's Hill area for several days,
with a clear signal on November 5, and another appearance there this
afternoon. Later on though, he flew southwest a bit, ending up a few kilometres south of the Rochester
International Airport, near the junction of highways 15 and
East Rochester, NY.
More than anywhere else, it is the area east of Rochester along
highway I-490 that Hafoc has been frequenting over the past month,
especially within a small radius around Cobb's Hill. Yesterday he
was again just on the west side of this small area, a day after another
short foray to the west, which took him to just a few kilometres east of
Hafoc continues to move around, but is now at the point where he is
returning to spots he has visited previously. The last two reports
from him have come from the Lake Ontario shoreline north of Webster, the
same area where he was on September 20.
For most of the past week, Hafoc has avoided Rochester itself, at
least during the periods when his transmitter was active. From
Pittsford, he moved back the next day to the area northeast of Rochester
where he has been a few times previously. Over the next three days we
received no clear signals; one day would have been skipped due to the
pre-programmed cycle of the transmitter, and the others may have been
unsuccessful due to atmospheric or other interference. At any rate,
yesterday we got a couple of clear readings from north of Rochester,
roughly midway between Greece and Irondequoit. By early this morning
(and likely in fact, by last night) he was over 70 kilometres to the west,
along the Lake Ontario shoreline near Barker. This is the furthest
west that we have documented Hafoc to date.
Hafoc has now been on the southeast side of Rochester for a full
week. His latest location is a couple of kilometres west of
Pittsford, but for the most part he has been staying close to I-490, often
near Cobb's Hill, but ranging as far west as the Highway 31 / Monroe
Avenue interchange with I-490.
East Rochester, NY.
No report from Hafoc tonight, but we have news from the past few days
to share. On October 11, he moved back up to near the Lake Ontario
shoreline, just north of where he was on September 28. He didn't
linger there for long though, returning the next day to the spot along
East Avenue where he was from October 8 through October 10.
Yesterday he shifted just a bit south from there to a spot right along
I-490 near Cobb's Hill, roughly midway between Monroe Avenue (Hwy 31) and
East Rochester, NY.
Following his travels to the south and west over the past week, Hafoc
has returned to the Rochester area again. For the past three days,
he has been staying in a relatively small area north of East Avenue (Hwy
96), only about
3-4 km east/southeast of the Kodak building nest site.
7, 2004: (updated)
No sooner did I lament Hafoc's lack of movement than he took off on
his longest journey to date! Early yesterday morning, he reported in
from around Elmira, New York, just a few kilometres from the Pennsylvania
border, and over 140 kilometres southeast of Rochester. We continued
to receive updates from Hafoc's transmitter through to early afternoon, by
which time he had moved more than halfway back north to Rochester, a bit
west of Seneca Lake, near Gorham. Then today he was west of
Rochester near Bergen, roughly 10 kilometres northeast of Batavia. We are very curious to see whether
these represent the start of further movements by Hafoc, or just an
occasional side trip interrupting his residency in Rochester.
North Rochester, NY.
I've put off the update for a couple of days, hoping to have some more
news to convey. However, the fact is that for another week Hafoc has
remained quite stationary in the area north of Rochester. Two days
ago he was over toward Hwy 390, but most days he has been closer to Lake
Avenue, usually just a bit south of Hwy 104. It's too early to say
that he has settled into an area, especially with the peak of peregrine
migration only approaching now, but it is interesting to see that he has
been roaming much less widely since mid-September.
State Parkway, NY. Hafoc has remained in a fairly small area
over the past week, with almost all reports coming from between Rochester
and the Lake Ontario shoreline, and in all but the latest case within 3
kilometres of the Genesee River. From September 22 through 26, he
stayed just south of Highway 104, shifting a bit back and forth to the
east and west. Yesterday was one of the designated "off"
days in his transmitter's duty cycle, and today we again had a full range
of signals, with the strongest placing him along the Lake Ontario State
Parkway near Hwy 390, within a couple of kilometres of the Lake Ontario
North Rochester, NY.
Early this morning, we got a very strong signal from Hafoc in the area
west of Lake Avenue, a bit south of Hwy 104. This location is only a bit
over 3 km from the nest site, but nonetheless far enough away to indicate
clearly that he wasn't right at home last night. Map update to
follow with the next report in a few days.
On September 18, Hafoc shifted a bit north along the Genesee
River. Our next report from him came yesterday, when he was along
the Lake Ontario shoreline, directly north of Webster. Early this
morning, he was back in Rochester in the area of the Kodak building.
For over two weeks now, Hafoc has been on a cycle which sees him 'at home'
roughly every fourth day, and exploring off in a variety of directions in
between. We'll hopefully see tomorrow whether he resumes his
Hafoc has returned to being a relative homebody in recent days.
Both today and on the 13th he was near downtown Rochester, while on
September 14 and 15 we received no clear signals, likely due to widespread
atmospheric disturbances present at the time. The only more distant
report since the last update is from yesterday, when Hafoc put in an
appearance at the mouth of the Genesee River. To help make Hafoc's
most recent location easier to locate on the map, we will be marking it
with a red dot from now on.
Hwy 19 &
Lake Ontario, NY. Yesterday we got two good locations for Hafoc.
In the early afternoon Dick Holbert reported picking up his signal with a
radio receiver in Brighton NY, southeast of Rochester, then in the evening
the satellite report gave us a clear reading from the countryside along
Hwy 19 a bit south of Lake Ontario. These locations are roughly 35
km apart, but that's not far as the peregrine flies, and we have seen
recently from his brief visit to Oswego that Hafoc seems to be inclined to
make rapid forays away from his home base.
After his big movement a few days ago, Hafoc is now happy spending his
time close to the nest site. He showed up 5km northeast of the nest
site on Sept 8. He was located 5km east of Rochester yesterday, and
less than 2km south of the nest site today.
On Sept 3, Hafoc was once again located in the Rochester area.
The following day, he showed up near Fairport, approximately 18km
southeast of his nest site. Today he moved almost 80km northeast of
his previous location, to an area just south of Oswego. This is his
biggest movement so far!
Yesterday Hafoc was located approximately 30km southeast of the nest
site, between Macedon and Palmyra. Today he showed up approximately
27km northeast of the nest site, between Webster and Williamson, only a
few short kilometers from the shore of Lake Ontario. It seems he has
become quite the explorer!
The past few days Hafoc has been wandering away from Rochester a bit
again. He moved a bit to the east on August 27, then switched to the
west side the next day, reporting from a bit past Spencerport.
However, these movements remain very local, and there have continued to be
sightings of him in Rochester too, indicating that the nest site may at
least loosely be remaining as a home base for Hafoc as he starts exploring
the areas outside the city.
NY. Not much change to report over the past few days. The
latest signal from Hafoc came in the middle of last night, and was again
in the area of the Kodak headquarters, northwest of downtown
Rochester. Perhaps Hafoc is waiting for another cold front to move
through the area before thinking about moving on again.
The familiarity of home appears to still be a strong lure for Hafoc.
After making it as far south as Henrietta on August 15, he started heading
back north the next day, passing by the Rochester Airport in the early
afternoon. The next report arrived on August 18, from just east of
the Kodak building, and all of the strong signals in the days since have
been from the area of the nest. Most significantly, a series of
signals last night placed Hafoc on average within 100 metres of the nest
box. Now we await his second departure, and are curious to see
whether he will strike out on his own more definitively next time.
Hafoc has continued to make short movements in the area
north of Rochester. On August 12 he moved east along the Lake
Ontario shoreline to a bit north of Irondequoit. Late the next day,
the first signal from the subsequent broadcast period indicated that he
had shifted to southwest of Irondequoit. Yesterday was a day which
fell entirely within an 'off' cycle for the transmitter - it is programmed
to transmit for 10 hours, then rest for 24 hours. While it would be
great to have around-the-clock coverage, the cost for data processing
associated with such heavy satellite usage would be unaffordable.
The broadcast cycle being used provides a compromise between cost and
coverage, still providing us with locations almost every day.
back on for most of the first half of the day. The strongest of the reports positioned Hafoc just southwest of Henrietta, New York, a
bit over 10 kilometres south of Rochester.
Well, at last we've
got some clear movement developing! On the evening of August 9,
Hafoc's transmitter beamed a nice clear signal in from just east of
Greece. While this is still less than ten kilometres from his point
of origin in Rochester, it's the first strong evidence we've had of him
wandering this far. Today he has continued his progress a bit
further north still, approaching Lake Ontario. In the days prior to
Hafoc starting to shift north, he was still being seen regularly around
and on the Kodak building, and on at least one occasion was seen making a
kill. That's a good sign
that he has reached the point of independence, and while we wouldn't be
surprised to see him return to Rochester again before striking out for
more distant destinations, it appears he is now on his own and no longer
needs the support of his parents.
Hafoc is certainly
taking his time with respect to leaving home. Again over the past
week, all of the most accurate reports have been from within a 3 km radius
of the nest site. In fact, the strong signal from the middle of last
night placed Hafoc only a few hundred metres west of it. Observers
also continue to report sightings of him in the area, frequently in
association with one of his siblings.
Last night's report
from Hafoc was one of the clearest signals received from his transmitter
to date, and it placed him roughly half a kilometres southwest of the nest
box at Kodak. Even with such an accurate reading there is some error
involved, nonetheless, the distance away from the box is great enough that
we can be reasonably certain he was at least some distance from home last
night. A couple of daytime reports in recent days have put him in
the area of Irondequoit, suggesting that he is starting to explore to the
north a bit. We expect to see more such movements in the near
Hafoc is taking his
time in expanding his horizons. Again this week he has been seen
near the Kodak building on multiple occasions, and most telemetry
locations have come from within a couple of kilometres of the nest
site. When will he start to become more adventurous?
Of the many
telemetry locations transmitted for Hafoc over the past week, all of those
flagged as high quality data have continued to originate from within 4
kilometres of the Kodak tower. On a couple of days, the strongest
signal came from a distance of 10 - 25 kilometres from downtown Rochester,
once to the northwest, and another time to the southeast. However,
in both cases the signal was relatively weak. Given that all of the
stronger reports showed Hafoc still staying close to home, we suspect that
the more distant readings may at least in part be reflecting some error in
resolving Hafoc's location, and that he was in fact still closer to
Rochester on those occasions. However, Hafoc has now been flying for
a full month, and we expect that it won't be long before he actually does
start exploring more distant areas.
reports from Hafoc have not yet shown much change. Signals received
during the night tend to locate him at or near the Kodak tower; those from
during the day originate from a somewhat larger radius around the nest,
reflecting some exploratory flights which appear to be taking him 5 - 10
kilometres away at times. Overall though, Hafoc has not yet made any
significant movements, and local observers are continuing to see him near
Kodak or the nearby Genesee River gorge at various times of day.
continue to spot Hafoc daily within sight of the nest box. However,
there are now periods when not all four of the siblings are in view,
suggesting that they are beginning to explore a slightly larger
range. We are continuing to monitor the telemetry data daily, and
also welcome the continued reports of observers on the ground who can
confirm Hafoc's location directly.
after just a week and a half out of the nest, Hafoc is still being seen
regularly near home by many local observers. While a couple of his
siblings have been grounded and rescued, Hafoc has remained out of
trouble. If his good fortune continues, we expect him to gradually
begin taking longer flights, and exploring areas increasingly far from the
Kodak building. We will be monitoring the data closely as reports
from the transmitter come in, and will post updates as soon as there is
any news of a change in location.
Hafoc has become
the first of the five young peregrines in the Rochester nest to leave the
nest box, and around 8:30 am took his first real flight, soaring briefly
out to the south before returning to land on the roof of the nest
box. Later in the day he made some additional flights, and by all
accounts is doing very well. He will likely remain very close to
home for the next couple of weeks at least, but an update will be posted
in early July on his activities in any case.
Hafoc is now just
over 30 days old, and will likely not take his first flight for at least
another 7 to 10 days. However, during this period he will be
exercising his wings with ever-increasing vigor, strengthening his muscles
by the day. He appears to have quickly adjusted to wearing the
harness and transmitter, and by the time he flies away from the nest box
for the first time will no doubt be completely used to it.
it is unlikely that Hafoc will fly any distance from home during his first
week or so in the air, we will begin providing regular updates on his
activities in early July. In the meantime, Hafoc and his siblings
can be viewed on the Kodak