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Union Bank Fire Doesn't Ruffle Tenants' Feathers

July 21, 1988|LYNN SIMROSS | Times Staff Writer

Union Bank's most unusual tenants, a pair of peregrine falcons, were undisturbed by Monday night's fire in the high rise bank building, even though several floors below their nest on the ledge of the 39th floor were charred.

"They're fine," said Union chairman John Harrigan, who monitors the birds' nest on a TV set in his office a floor below. Harrigan explained that the falcons don't usually roost there at night, so they missed the fire.

"They might have been on top of the First Interstate (which burned May 4), or Arco or some other higher building or a high radio or television antenna. At night when they sleep, they feel safer in higher places."

Chief Bird Watcher

Harrigan became Union's chief bird watcher 6 years ago when a nest box--a wooden tray with three-inch deep gravel--was installed for the peregrines high atop the bank offices in an effort to re-establish the endangered species in the downtown Los Angeles area. The peregrines were brought to downtown by the successful breeding program run jointly by the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology and the national Peregrine Fund.

The pair of falcons already had raised their one offspring, a male, by the end of April, Harrigan noted, so they aren't nesting at Union Bank right now. "The nest box here is used during egg-raising season," he said. "The mating season starts around the first of the year and the eggs are laid around the first of March. The incubation period is about 23 or 24 days. Then, it is the end of April before the young can fly.

They 'Mate for Life'

"Peregrines mate for life, and they hunt together and fly together," Harrigan said. "The rest of the year they come to the nest box here every day, once or twice a day. They identify very much with this building. It is the center of their little universe. They came by yesterday (after the fire) and looked the place over. I don't know what they thought. They might have thought it was a little smoky."

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