Peregrine falcon spotted in downtown Honolulu

(Photo: First Hawaiian Bank)

The picturesque First Hawaiian Bank Building stands high above the rest of its peers in downtown Honolulu. At just under 430 feet tall, it offers breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. It’s also the perfect home to one of nature’s most feared birds of prey, a Peregrine falcon.

“It’s been coming back for years, so it’s fascinating,” said Bob Fujioka, First Hawaiian Bank vice chairman and chief lending officer. “Maybe like the swallows returning to Capistrano, this is its home.”

Experts believe the falcon is female, due to its large size. It’s often seen resting on the ledge off First Hawaiian Bank’s board room, located on the 30th floor, overlooking Iolani Palace below.

“In cities and residential areas, they try to get up really high on tall buildings,” said Linda Santos, Honolulu Zoo bird curator. “Mainly they find populations of pigeons.”

Fujioka remembers the morning the falcon landed outside his office window. “It’s very regal looking the way it kind of carries itself and it was unperturbed by anything,” he said. “It had its own presence and its own command and that was really impressive.”

The first recorded sighting of a Peregrine falcon was on the Big Island in 1961. Since then, there have been more than 100 sightings across the state. In 2009, an injured Peregrine falcon was captured near the Kahe Power Plant. It was missing a part of its beak.

Experts believe the birds fly here from Canada or the West coast during the winter.

“They don’t breed here,” Santos said. “They just come here to stay warm and get pigeons… (It’s) not something commonly seen, but they do come to Hawaii and are now considered a winter visitor.”

And, at least at the First Hawaiian Bank, a frequent winter visitor.

The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources says Peregrine falcons do come to our islands every once in a while, sometimes by strong winds. They are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws, and were also once listed as an endangered species.

Officials say since this is just one bird, they’re not concerned about its impact.

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