South Bend’s peregrine falcon, Maltese, spotted with new beau

SOUTH BEND — The falcon community is abuzz this morning over reports that Maltese has dumped longtime beau Zeus in favor of a mystery man.Not only that, but the notoriously camera-shy bird was reportedly spotted nesting Wednesday atop the County-City Building.If true, this would be the 4-year-old peregrine falcon’s second brood in as many years — and with two different partners!Maltese’s publicist would not confirm the rumors Thursday, saying in a statement that she “does not comment on gossip.”“As a reality star, Maltese lives her life in the public eye,” the statement read. “But that does not excuse the spread of unsubstantiated rumors about her private life.”Still, observers have reportedly spotted the pair out and about in recent days, buzzing the Tower Building and dining on raw pigeon atop the former Chase Tower.Witnesses have described the couple as “very affectionate,” with the new male brazenly wooing the typically reserved mum with a NSFW aerial courtship display.The young feathered male is rumored to be Peace, a 2-year-old from Macomb County, Mich., near Detroit on the shore of Lake St. Clair.A paparazzo reportedly identified the apex predator from a metal band on its leg.As for Zeus, he appears to be hiding from the spotlight.“I don’t know what happened there,” said Carol Riewe, who previously followed the couple. “He could have just wandered off to some other place, or he could have been booted out. This guy could have come along and they could have tussled for territory.”“I miss Zeus,” Riewe, a local raptor rehabilitator, added. “He was a darn good parent.”To the delight of longtime fans, the couple first started dating in early 2015, shortly after the death of Scarlet, Zeus’ former mate, in a tragic hunting accident.In fact, three of Zeus’ mates died while hunting during a five-month period at the beginning of 2014, leading some to suspect fowl play.Zeus’ publicist seemed to confirm the split Thursday, asking for privacy for his client during this “emotionally difficult time.”The couple have seven chicks together, including a nearly 1-year-old female who was recently spotted in Ontario, Riewe said.“When you see something like that, it tells you that that bird obviously became a good hunter because it was surviving months after leaving here,” Riewe said.Maltese is reportedly sitting atop one egg at the moment, with two to three more expected to follow in the coming days.If true, the new chicks should arrive early next month.“We have got somebody at least,” Riewe said of Peace. “I was beginning to think we wouldn’t have any birds this year.”