Tuesday, March 10, 2020 by Jerry Quijano, KUT

Tower Girl, UT’s resident falcon, has laid eggs again. Will one hatch this year?

Tower Girl, the peregrine falcon who has made the UT tower home for a few years, has laid three eggs in her nest as of Sunday.

This is the fifth time the falcon has laid eggs in the tower, but none has hatched so far. David Hillis, a professor of integrative biology at UT Austin, says the lack of success isn’t likely to deter Tower Girl from trying again. He said her nesting instinct is a “genetic response that’s hardwired into the bird.”

Birds lay eggs in what’s known as clutches, and falcons generally produce three or four eggs per clutch. The incubation period lasts around 30 days after the bird drops the last egg of the clutch. Hillis says it’s not uncommon for birds to lay unfertilized eggs.

“That can happen because they don’t have appropriate mating with a male. It also could happen potentially because of infertility of the female,” he said. “In the case of Tower Girl, we just don’t know which of those is more likely to be true.”

The nest was built atop the tower a few years ago. A camera was added in 2018 so people could keep up with the falcon.

Hillis said he’s delighted to see so much interest in the happenings of Tower Girl.

“It’s important for people to see there’s lots of interesting wild species that live right in and around Austin,” he said. “And certainly, the peregrine falcons are an example of that.”

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo: UT Falcon Cam screengrab.

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