It's official: For the first time ever, Rockford has its own city bird. Mayor Tom McNamara announced Friday that the peregrine falcon shall represent the city.
The initiative itself was led by 15-year-old Jackie Kuroda. She is a youth board member for Sinnissippi Audubon Society and a member of Illinois Young Birders. A little more than a year ago, she wrote a letter to the mayor and started a petition. She said she led the efforts to designate the bird because of its ability to adapt and overcome.
"Peregrine falcons were once on the threatened and endangered species list," she said. "They can now be found in Rockford for the first time due to conservation efforts." In her letter to the mayor, she wrote that the falcons' comeback is a conservation success story that "makes it the perfect bird to represent the comeback that Rockford has been making too."
Peregrine falcons established a nest site atop the Rockford Register Star news tower in 2018. Since then, mother Louise has successfully hatched and fledged seven young falcons. The Sinnissippi Audubon Society continues to play a critical role in maintaining the site and they regularly provide the public with updates, video footage and photos of the birds.
The nest site is actually in a drainage ditch. Jennifer Kuroda is Jackie's mother and the president of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society. She expressed appreciation for the Rockford Register Star's cooperation.
"They have been wonderful to partner with," she said. "They let us put a camera up there, allowing the community to see these birds.
But the building is currently for sale and Kuroda is concerned.
"I don't know the future of the building or how long we'll be allowed to have our cameras up there," Jennifer Kuroda said. "But I hope whoever the new owner is -- that they'll welcome these birds just as much as the community has."
Rockford is an urban environment that has a lot of glass, concrete and blacktop. But even with all the industry and infrastructure, countless birds use the area during the spring and fall migration. Jennifer Kuroda said, "Having stops and feeding stations for these birds to stop is very important."
To learn more about peregrine falcons, Jackie Kuroda said there will be a "community Zoom" on Tuesday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. called Get To Know Your City Bird. Check the Sinnissippi Audubon Society website for the link to the event. Until then, Jennifer Kuroda said, "The birder community is very welcoming, and it's also a great time to go out by yourself in any of our forest preserves and spend time in nature."