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2004 Peregrine Nestbox News



November 23, 2004
Peregrine falcon at nestboxAny viewers who checked out the web cam this morning were treated to the sight of both adult peregrines perched atop 101 Hudson Street. The female was sitting on the parapet over the nestbox, while the male was perched off to the right.

Peregrine falcons generally mate for life, or at least for the life of each bird. If either of the pair dies, the other will usually seek out another mate. In most cases, if the female is lost the male will hold on to his nesting territory and wait for another potential mate to appear. This can happen in as little as a few weeks. If it is the male who dies, the female will usually move from the territory and become a floater. Hopefully, she will eventually link up with a territorial male.

Even though courtship season is still a few months away, peregrines reaffirm their pair bonds all year long. We have been watching the pair on the Palisades hunting together and jointly driving off any migrant raptors who stray into their territory, including several hapless and much larger bald eagles. Although we cannot see them, the Jersey City peregrines are undoubtedly engaging in the same behavior. As nesting season gets closer, we will see more and more pair bond affirmation as the birds prepare to raise another brood.

October 5, 2004
DEP and Division of Fish and Wildlife Web experts Jeff Smith and Richard Hyjack have produced an amazing close up of a typical feeding time at 101 Hudson Street. This 3-minute tape was edited down from approximately 40 minutes of footage. On the day this footage was shot (May 18, 2004), the nestlings were almost three weeks old.

Shortly after the tape starts, we see an adult bird leave the nest ledge and return with prey, probably a rock dove, or pigeon. Remember that this tape was edited down, so it undoubtedly took longer to dispatch the prey than it would appear on tape. You might also notice that the adult peregrine has mostly plucked its catch, removing the feathers and inedible portions.

Several things to watch for while viewing the tape:

  • The amazing delicacy with which the adult peregrines approach and feed their young. The parent is breaking off really small pieces of the prey item and gently feeding the young birds. At this stage of their development, the chicks are quite actively reaching out for their food, as opposed to their first two weeks, when they gaped in the manner of songbirds.
  • As each chick is fed and you will see the crop (the muscular pouch near a bird's throat where food is temporarily stored prior to digestion) fill to the point where the little chicks are top-heavy.
  • Toward the end of the tape, one of the youngsters even excretes over the edge of the nestbox, the raptor method of nest sanitation!
  • Right after being sated, the chicks will lie down and nap, their food needs met for an hour or two.
This feeding activity is re-enacted multiple times each day, from early morning until almost dusk, and increases proportionately as the nestlings grow. In another week or two, the adults will just drop the prey at the nest and the young will feed themselves.

Three days after this footage was shot, the chicks of 101 Hudson Street were banded and were seen on the Channel 4 News and on the front page of The Record!!! (NOTE: You will need to register with the Record's Web site to view the article.)

September 7, 2004
There is always much to learn in the area of raptor behavior. The events which took place during this year's nesting season in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania will confirm this observation.

Pennsylvania DEP's offices are located in the Rachel Carson building in Harrisburg. Peregrine falcons have nested on a fifteenth floor ledge since 2000 and also have their own website. Interestingly enough, several birds from the Harrisburg site have ended up becoming Jersey residents. In fact, a female banded W/*G, the sole surviving nestling from the 2000 Rachel Carson nest, almost became the first nester on the New Jersey Palisades. Our two states have enjoyed a long and good relationship over the years of peregrine restoration.

On Memorial Day weekend, one of the four nestlings at Rachel Carson suddenly went missing. A thorough search of the area around the nest failed to turn up a the male nestling's carcass. At times such as these, viewers are invaluable. Pennsylvania biologists received many e-mails detailing what had occurred. There was much evidence that an intruder had been at the nest ledge. One person described the killing and carrying off of the missing nestling and many other reports confirmed this observation. Biologists believed from all the details that the intruder was a red-tailed hawk.

The next segment of this story occurred on August 9th, almost two months after the remaining three eyases had fledged. A territorial battle occurred at midday between one of the peregrines and a red-tailed hawk. The encounter was so fierce that it caught the attention of pedestrians in the area as well as the Harrisburg Patriot News, who contacted Pennsylvania DEP for an update.

The red-tail, much larger than a peregrine, was still no match for peregrine ferocity. The hawk was dazed and fell 16 stories to the sidewalk outside the building, where a passerby scooped it up and brought it in to the Environmental Education Center. The hawk quickly recovered and would not even sit still for a photograph before being released by Jack Farster, Environmental Education Director.

We spoke to Mr. Farster recently, and he commented that he had heard of red-tails knocking eyases off of ledges, but never before had encountered this sort of attack.

The area around 101 Hudson St. is probably not conducive to much red-tailed hawk activity. The only raptor we have seen in the area outside of migration periods is the American kestrel. While watching the cliff-nesting peregrines on the Palisades, we have had a different experience. The red-tails that dwell on the cliffs give a wide berth to the resident falcons, who waste no time in running them out of the area. What is even more interesting to watch, is the fact that this female nester is far more aggressive toward the resident turkey vultures, who do not even pose a menace to the peregrines.

As we said, there is still much to learn about raptor behavior. Thanks to Jack Farster for letting us use this story on our website.

August 17, 2004
Just before dark last night we checked the Webcam and were rewarded with two peregrines on camera. One was sitting on the parapet above the nestbox, and appeared to be the adult female. The other was on the ledge next to the box and had its back to the camera. A slightly better look just as darkness was closing in made us think it was a juvenile.

If any of our viewers have been worrying about L/*S due to the almost relentlessly rainy weather since her release, we hope to put your mind at ease. Of all the birds of prey, peregrine falcons are probably the most comfortable in wild weather. We have seen them flying in rain and snow, and high winds, and at the risk of anthropomorphizing (attributing human characteristics to an animal), they seem to glory in the elements. We once watched the pair on the George Washington Bridge do a spectacular flight display in near gale-force winds. So there is no reason to believe that L/*S is not doing just fine!

August 13, 2004
L/*S has finally returned to Jersey City! Mike Valent picked her up at The Raptor Trust, where a second set of x-rays had found the wing injury responsible for her labored flight. It took some time, but she has finally healed and is flying well.

Unlike 3/*3, the young female was a little reluctant at first to leave the security of her carrier. When she did finally take off, her flight was strong and she headed toward the Hudson River. As soon as she cleared the building, an adult, which was probably perched on one of the setbacks below the roof, joined her, and they flew together toward the river, the juvenile following the adult and calling loudly. Several minutes later the two birds returned and almost landed on the roof.

The behavior shown is a very good sign. Even after the long absence of the juvenile bird, there is obviously familial recognition.

Once again, we thank the Raptor Trust for their great work!

August 6, 2004
It is now almost eight weeks since the Hudson Street falcons have fledged. L/*S continues her rehabilitation at the Raptor Trust, but as far as we can determine, her brothers and sister remain in the vicinity of Jersey City. At this stage of their development they are moving around more and more, perfecting their flight skills and most importantly, honing their hunting proficiency.

The young birds are now catching most of their own food, although they are certainly not above cadging a meal from their parents if possible. The adult birds will be less and less willing to provide food, although we have read reports of young birds still occasionally being fed two months after leaving the nest.

Learning to catch their own food is probably the most crucial ability the young falcons will have to learn, as their very survival is dependent upon this. A bird who cannot hunt will not last very long in the wild.

August 3, 2004
Our viewers may have noticed that the webcam is up and operating again, thanks to Jeff Smith, the division's resident computer whiz. Paul Tarlowe, who is responsible for the content of the Division of Fish & Wildlife's Web site, was tuned in early today and saw one of the falcons perched on a roof parapet. While the birds will not be in camera range most of the time, they do continue to visit the roof at 101 Hudson Street. Viewers who are in the right place at the right time may in fact catch a glimpse. Probably the most productive times for watching for them would be early morning and just before dusk.

Viewers may also notice the new "mascot" at the bottom of the peregrine cam homepage. This six-inch plush falcon is authentically marked and makes a genuine peregrine "cacking" sound, courtesy of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Anyone who has ever been on the roof of 101 Hudson during nesting season will recognize this awesome sound immediately! We hope that all the viewers who watch the "real" falcons will order one of these little guys (the holidays are fast approaching) and in so doing, continue to help our New Jersey falcons. Click on the link "Learn how" for details. And know how much we all appreciate your support. Our NJ peregrines would not be thriving as they are without you!

July 22, 2004
Sometimes we get the most interesting sightings from the most unusual sources.

After we released 3/*3 last Thursday, we walked the area around 101 Hudson, hoping for another glimpse of the young falcon. On the northeast corner of the building there was a hot dog vendor, and that sighting, plus the aroma of hot dogs cooking, reminded us that it was well after the lunch hour and we had not yet eaten.

As we approached the cart, the gentleman who owned it (and we apologize for not asking his name), noticed the binoculars on our shoulders. He inquired what we were watching and when we mentioned the falcons, and that one of the young males had just been returned to the building, he proceeded to entertain us with peregrine sightings. His recounting of events was lyrical as well as very accurate in depicting peregrine behavior. His location gives him a perfect observation post, and he has obviously been attentive. We might also add that his hot dogs were very good!

The most interesting story involved something he had seen a few days before. As he was standing on the corner, he looked up in time to see a pigeon flying by, low and between two buildings to the east of 101. As he was watching, a peregrine came out of nowhere and grabbed the hapless rock dove. Unfortunately, the falcon somehow lost its grip on the bird. At that point, according to the account, another falcon came at the pigeon from below, re-caught it and held on tightly. This falcon was followed by still another. Three birds were in sight at one time.

At this point, the young falcons have been out of the nest for over a month, and should be starting to hunt on their own, although it will be awhile before they are really proficient at securing their own prey. They will still continue to cadge food from the adults as often as they can.

It is quite possible that the pigeon was snared by a young bird, who did not have a good grip on it; when the falcon let go, it was quite possibly an adult saving the meal. At least we know that on that particular day in Jersey City three peregrines were in sight at 101 Hudson Street. It is also good to know that the local citizenry is aware of their movements.

We also got a glimpse of this interest in the falcons while waiting in the lobby for Bob Barth to meet us. The security guards were asking questions and telling of things they had observed from their most well-known residents. Tenants passing through the lobby heard the conversation and stopped to chat also.

As we have often said, the 101 Hudson birds have been very much a joint effort and this becomes more apparent with each passing year.

July 15, 2004
Today there was major excitement at 101 Hudson, as 3/*3 returned to the skies of Jersey City.

His journey began this morning, when Mike Valent picked him up at the Raptor Trust, and safely ensconced in a wooden carrier specially built for him by Len Soucy, he arrived in Jersey City not long after noon. Bob Barth from LCOR accompanied us to the roof, 45 stories in the air.
As we came out the roof door, the adult female came cruising right in on us. Mike placed the carrier against the wall, stepped back, and before we could say "live long and prosper," 3/*3 made a hasty exit. As he took to the air, his mother came in to meet him, and both birds treated us to a beautiful and touching flight. The last we saw of them they were soaring out toward the river.

An hour later, a juvenile peregrine who we hope was 3/*3 was seen on one of the high setbacks at the front of 101 Hudson. An adult bird was sitting around the corner. The young bird seemed to be picking at something; we are hoping he was fed.

Mike Valent watched 3/*3 take flight
Biologist Mike Valent watched 3/*3 take flight

The juvenile female, L/*S, is not yet so fortunate. We were hoping to bring her home today with her brother, but she is still not flying well. Previous x-rays showed no sign of a break, so it is somewhat of a mystery why her flight is still labored. The bird will be x-rayed again this week; hopefully, she will soon join the others back in Jersey City.

Viewers should not yet give up on the webcam. Yesterday, we saw one and possibly two birds on camera, and while we were on the roof today, Bob Barth zoomed the camera out a little to provide a wider view. Hopefully, 3/*3 will remain close for his first few days.

July 7, 2004
The Raptor Trust is now temporarily home to two of the 101 Hudson Street peregrines. One of the females, L/*S, has joined her brother at the rehab center. She was found on the ground and brought to the Trust. Fortunately, the thrush that infected her brother has not gotten her; unfortunately, she has been x-rayed and nothing seems amiss, but she is not flying well.

Both peregrines are now in a 100' flight cage. The male, 3/*3, has had his thrush infection surgically removed and is now eating well and gaining strength.

Hopefully, we will soon be able to report that both birds have been released together at 101 Hudson Street.

We see little of the other two birds at this point, although one was on camera over the 4th of July weekend. They probably remain in the vicinity, where the adult birds are teaching them the hunting skills they will need to survive.

June 15, 2004
Good news from the The Raptor Trust! Falcon 3/3 had his throat swabbed yesterday and the frounce is all dead. He is also eating "real food" again. He will probably have to submit to x-rays at the end of the week, to make sure nothing was damaged in his rough landing, and then we will get the word on when we may pick him up and return him to 101 Hudson Street.

We have had some viewer questions about the health of the other birds and why we are not trying to trap and treat them.

At this point, the other male seems to have fledged, and quite probably the females, too. Both females have been seen on the ledge early in the morning, but whether that indicates they are still resident on the 101 Hudson roof or merely returning to roost or feed, remains to be seen. If they have not fledged, an attempt to get anywhere near them would undoubtedly be a disaster.

In other words, if any of the other birds contract frounce, our only chance would be if they were to be found on the ground. Fortunately, as we have just seen, the birds seem to be well-known residents of Jersey City, and hopefully we would be contacted.

The other good news is that there seems to be an immune system component attached to trichomoniasis. Not all birds that ingest an infected host end up with the disease. Also, the infected bird might not have been shared by all the falcons. So far all the other birds seem to be fine. We will, of course, be observing them as closely as possible.

As we have mentioned before, viewers should not be alarmed if the birds seem to be lying around. Young falcons will continue to lie down even after leaving the nest and in this hot and humid weather they will appear to be quite lethargic. Normal conditions for their stage of development and weather conditions.

June 14, 2004
Those who have been involved with peregrine falcon restoration in New Jersey have always believed that it is truly a cooperative venture, encompassing not just professional biologists, but people from all walks of life who share a love for these magnificent birds of prey. The events that occurred on Thursday in Jersey City will more than prove this theory to be true.

It all started at about 4:45 Thursday afternoon, when Abby Elidrissi stepped outside the restaurant where he works at 67 Greene Street, about a block southwest of 101 Hudson. Mr. Elidrissi arrived just in time to see a little brown raptor tumble to the ground on the restaurant steps. He did not know at the time that the bird was a peregrine falcon, which probably had just fledged. He did, however, realize that the bird was something rare and very, very beautiful, and that he had to try to help it. Mr. Elidrissi had the presence of mind to do two things that played a large part in saving the falcon's life: he got a plastic crate and placed it over the stunned bird, which kept the young falcon from further injury, and also afforded some protection from the neighborhood dogs. Then he called the Jersey City Police Department.

The male peregrine fledgling, banded with the color band "3/3" at 101 Hudson Street just three weeks ago, received his next lucky break when the police arrived. The police officers who responded to Mr. Elidrissi's call were aware of the nest at 101 Hudson. Officer Brian McGovern placed a call to Kathy Clark, principal zoologist at the Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and then walked to 101 Hudson Street to see if he could find anyone who would know what to do next.

The little falcon scored another big break in that Tom Reid, building manager at 101 Hudson, was still in his office. Mr. Reid also called Kathy Clark, and then accompanied PO McGovern back to Greene Street.

Police officer Mark Shaw had remained behind with the grounded falcon, another stroke of luck. PO Shaw's regular beat encompasses 101 Hudson. When he first was assigned to this patrol several years ago, he was not sure if there was a serial killer in the making residing in the neighborhood, or if his beat perhaps encompassed some strange religious cult. Officer Shaw kept finding pigeon heads on the ground. Lots and lots of pigeon heads. Eventually someone informed him of the 101 Hudson eyrie, and he has watched its falcons and been a fan ever since.

Approximately twenty miles to the north, Linn Pierson, Nestbox News author, was sitting in her office in a state park, gleefully contemplating actually leaving work on time for once. About to turn off her computer, some strange compulsion made her e-mail Kathy Clark instead. She mentioned two things that had been on her mind all day. It is fledging time, and she wanted to be sure that LCOR had her phone numbers, since she lived closest to 101. She also bemoaned the fact that we did not know if any of the birds had actually fledged, and was trying to think of something to write about for Nestbox News.

Giving life to the old saying about "be careful what you wish for," before she could hit the send button, the phone rang. Grudgingly, she answered, only to find Kathy Clark on the other end.

Luckily for 3/3, Kathy is also a workaholic and was involved in another raptor crisis that kept her in her office in Tuckahoe, at the southern end of New Jersey. Thus she was there to take the calls from Jersey City, and she asked Linn to go and pick up the peregrine. Within five minutes, Linn was on the road, a forty-minute journey that would end up taking slightly more than an hour and a half, due to rush hour traffic and several accidents that tied up traffic even more. Tom Reid and Officer Shaw stood guard over 3/3 the entire time, as storm clouds threatened and light rain finally began to fall. The men got wet and were probably hungry. But 3/3 now also had the benefit of a cardboard box over his crate to keep him warm and dry.

The ultimate lucky break was that in the hour it took to drive west to a little town called Millington, on the fringe of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, we were able to reach a somewhat irascible angel named Len Soucy, who runs one of the finest rehabilitation facilities for birds of prey anywhere in the country, The Raptor Trust. Visitors to our site over the past few years are well aware of the extraordinary work done at this wonderful facility. Dr. Soucy was waiting for 3/3's arrival, despite having been up since 4:00 a.m. working on the many orphaned, ill or injured birds that come in at this time of year.

We wish the story could end right here with a happily ever after, but 3/3 needs a lot more luck. When Dr. Soucy examined the little falcon, he found throat lesions that indicate frounce, a form of avian trichomoniasis. This nasty condition is caused by Trichomonas gallinae, a single-celled protozoan that occurs in pigeons and doves. Raptors contract it by ingesting infected birds. Frounce causes plaque-like lesions in the mouth and esophagus. If left untreated, the infected bird will either die from suffocation or be unable to swallow any food due to the blockage, thus dying of starvation. In fact, 3/3's keel, or breastbone, was very sharp, indicating that he had been starving.

While the prognosis is still uncertain, we did receive a somewhat optimistic report from The Raptor Trust on Friday. The bird is on a high dose of medication, and is currently being tube fed, since he is still unable to eat solid food. The workers at the Raptor Trust are hopeful, however, that with his feisty personality and continued improvement, he may be eating within several days.

Right now 3/3 is in the best place he could be, receiving the best treatment. Last Thursday the lives of a restaurant worker, several police officers, a building manager, the naturalist-author, the zoologist and the rehabilitator, all intersected, as they all took time out of busy lives to care about one little bird. Without all of them, the end could have been entirely different. We thank them, and ask all our viewers to cross their fingers that 3/3 lives to fly again over Jersey City.

We will of course keep you updated.

June 8, 2004
At 6:45 this morning, all four peregrine chicks were on camera. At one point, all four were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the ledge. One of the females, however, still seems to harbor a fondness for the nestbox. Several times she launched herself back into the box with a mighty hop. She also left to explore the rooftop, and could be seen hopping back to the other chicks.

Today promises to be scorchingly hot and humid and viewers should not worry if the birds seem very lethargic. They will also sit with beaks open and wings open and drooping. These are not signs of illness. Birds have no sweat glands per se, and these actions are their way of trying to keep cool. The birds also may not appear very often on camera, as they will undoubtedly be searching out shady areas on the roof.

The two males are doing a great deal of wing flapping and should be fledging at any time now.

June 7, 2004
Our viewers have probably noticed that the 101 Hudson Street falcons have flown the coop, so to speak. Friday evening at about 5 o'clock one of the males jumped out of the nestbox, and the second male looked as if he were about to follow. The first male managed to get back into the box, probably by hopping onto the ledge. Obviously, he left again, and the other birds soon followed. As of this morning, all four birds are out of camera range.

This is not cause for concern, as the falcons are doing exactly what they should be doing at this point in their development. We will try to adjust the camera angle for a better view, but the roof at 101 Hudson St. encompasses a large area.

While we may not be able to see the birds, the adults will continue to bring in food for them. The young birds will now have a large area to explore, and if we are able to see them, we will probably notice a great deal of wing flapping. This is their way of strengthening their wings in preparation of their first flight.

Fledging may well occur this week, at least for the males. The females will take a little longer, only because their larger size means slightly slower development. After fledging we will see very little of the birds. However, the adult birds will continue to feed them for several weeks after they fledge, and the adults will be nearby.

During this time LCOR employees are extremely careful about going out on the roof. The young birds are very aware of humans at this stage, and frightening them could result in a premature fledge.

We will keep you posted as we get additional information.

June 2, 2004
At four and a half weeks, the nestlings are developing rapidly. Their wing and tail feathers are easy to see, and brown feathers are appearing on their breasts and backs. Preening now becomes a major pastime for the young birds.

You may also notice that the nestlings are no longer shuffling, but are now walking on their feet. They are also doing much flapping. This activity will continue to increase until fledging, and serves to strengthen the birds' wings for flight.

Their response to food is also becoming more and more pronounced. Early this morning, one of the adults dropped off a small prey item, and one of the female falcons grabbed it and proceeded to eat. While she only had moderate success in keeping her prize, she did fight for her food, a response we will see more and more as the birds get ready to leave their nest.

Viewers may also notice that the young birds have become much more vocal. They are now easily able to see the adults approaching with food, and will call quite loudly to be fed.

May 24, 2004
Here's some more information regarding Friday's banding at 101 Hudson St.

Around 10:00 a.m., Kathleen Clark, Principal Zoologist for the Endangered & Nongame Species Program, removed the little falcons from their nestbox and brought them inside to be fitted for the bands they will wear for the rest of their lives.

Since the peregrine restoration project began in 1975, thousands of peregrine falcons have been banded in north America. Although band returns for peregrines are less than 10%, each bird recovered or seen subsequent to banding offers biologists a wealth of potential knowledge on their migration habits, distribution and longevity.

In New Jersey, we try to band all of our young falcon nestlings each year. In addition, passage birds, or peregrines migrating through places such as Cape May in the fall, are often trapped and banded as adults. Birds that are rehabbed at facilities such as The Raptor Trust, are also banded before release. It is very thrilling to hear that a bird that was banded as a youngster in New Jersey is now part of a nesting pair, sometimes hundreds of miles away from its birthplace.

Those who have been concerned about whether the adult birds are around would have had their fears allayed the very moment the door to the roof opens - both parents began a vigorous defense of their young. As Kathy removed the youngsters from the nest and placed them in a box to transport them indoors, another bander kept busy trying to keep the adults from getting too close. Anyone who has ever participated in peregrine banding gets a pretty good idea of just how it feels to be a prey item!

The birds were examined for overall health as well as visually inspected for external parasites (quite common in young birds of prey due to nest sanitation, or lack thereof). Bands were applied to both legs. On their left leg is now a US Fish & Wildlife Service band, and on the right, an alpha-numeric band that will identify them as Jersey birds! The bands do not bother the birds at all and will remain on them for life.

When this was done the nestlings were placed back in their nestbox, again accompanied by more cacking and attack flying on the part of the adults.

May 21, 2004
This morning's banding went exactly as planned. The four chicks were removed from the nest as the adults dive-bombed Kathleen and Bob Barth, an employee with LCOR (building management) in protest, and brought inside a maintenance room atop the roof. Inside, two bands were placed on each leg of each chick so their identity can be determined if the bird is captured or recovered at some future date. The clutch is evenly divided, two males, two females. After all were banded, they were placed back in the nestbox and life for the rooftop peregrines returned to normal.

May 20, 2004
The young falcons of 101 Hudson are as yet unaware, but tomorrow will be their first close encounter with our species. Somewhere between 9:45 and 10:00 a.m., a banding team led by Kathleen Clark, Principal Zoologist for the Endangered & Nongame Species Program, will remove the little falcons from their nestbox and bring them inside to be fitted for the bands they will wear for the rest of their lives.

Since the peregrine restoration project began in 1975, thousands of peregrine falcons have been banded in North America. Although band returns are only about 7% of the birds banded, each bird recovered or seen subsequent to banding offers biologists a wealth of potential knowledge on peregrine numbers, their migration habits and longevity.

In New Jersey, we try to band all of our young falcons at their nests each year. In addition, passage birds, or peregrines migrating through places such as Cape May in the fall, are often trapped and banded as adults. Birds that are rehabbed at facilities such as The Raptor Trust, are also banded before release. It is very thrilling to hear that a bird that was banded as a youngster in New Jersey is now part of a nesting pair, sometimes hundreds of miles away from its birthplace. Tune in early tomorrow and we will describe the banding process and what our viewers may expect to see.

May 18, 2004
Several viewers have expressed concern over the past few days because they are not seeing very much of the adult birds.

We would like to assure everyone that things in the nest are progressing just as they should. The chicks are now almost three weeks old and the weather is warm, so they no longer need to be brooded. The female will now spend increasing amounts of time away from the nest, but one of the adults will remain in the immediate area, even if out of camera range. The chicks all appear to be normal in size and well fed. Their parents are just spending more time off camera.

Our viewers will be able to witness this on banding day*. When the door to the roof opens, one or both adults will appear immediately to defend their young vociferously and aggressively!

Those who have been watching since the young falcons hatched may also perceive changes in the way the youngsters feed. For the first weeks of their lives, they gape for food, just as a robin or blue jay would. More and more now, they will be reaching out to receive their food. Within a week, we should be able to see the young falcons grabbing at their meals, rather than just waiting to be fed. At that point, mealtime at 101 Hudson becomes a very lively affair!

* To view a video of the 2003 banding procedure see http://media3.state.nj.us/dep/peregrine02.wmv - requires the Windows Media Player.

May 11, 2004
The falcon chicks are now approximately ten days old, and even in this short time there have been tremendous changes.

As our viewers can see, their growth, combined with the hot and dry weather, have made them suddenly very visible. Brooding will continue for at least another week, especially when cool and/or wet, but will not be constant.

Today all the chicks were on camera as they were being fed by the adult female. The female will continue to do most of the feeding for a while longer. When they are closer to the time of leaving the nest, the male will start to do more and more of the feeding.

While they are still shuffling around on their tarsi, the youngsters are now capable of holding themselves upright, and their response to meal arrival is getting stronger.

May 7, 2004 - UPDATE!
At 3:45pm we were able to observe the parent feeding four chicks! At this point everything seems to be going quite well for our Jersey City Peregrines.

May 7, 2004, 10:45am
We now know for certain that there are at least two peregrine chicks at 101 Hudson Street, as several of us got a fleeting glimpse of them around 10:30 this morning, while the parent was away from the nest.

Peregrine chicks make a lot of progress in their first week. While they are still being closely brooded, and pass most of their time sleeping, huddled together if there is more than one chick, they are steadily growing stronger. Their birth weight has more than doubled. Their eyesight has become strong enough for them to see the adult birds land at the nest and coupled with this, their food cries are becoming stronger.

Sometime around the 8th day, nestlings begin to perform actions that will be part of their daily routine for the rest of their lives, such as preening and wing stretching. By their tenth day, they will be growing their second coat of down. Once this happens, they will be brooded less and will become more and more active.

May 3, 2004
We are anxiously awaiting a look at the 101 Hudson St. chicks, which hatched between Friday and Saturday. We will probably be kept in suspense for several days, however, as the adults closely brood the young for the next several days, especially if the weather is cool or rainy.

Most of the brooding is done by the female, although the male occasionally takes over for a short turn. Watch for the adults changing places and observe how carefully these large birds very gently settle themselves over the hatchlings. The adult birds are extremely careful with their feet when coming and going from the nest.

Viewers may also see the female gently pull back any chick that attempts to move out of the nest. Brooding will start to decrease after about the eighth day.

If we could see the hatchlings, it may strain the imagination somewhat to picture them as mighty peregrine falcons. Their down is very light and somewhat matted, and their eyes are generally closed, except when they are begging for food. The chicks are very feeble at this stage, but will almost double their size in the next few days.

April 30, 2004
The female's behavior indicates that eggs are hatching or have hatched! We'll need to wait for them to move into the camera's view to be sure, and to see how many. Stay tuned!!!

April 29, 2004
We are hoping to see hatching at any time now, but while we wait, we will discuss some of what our viewers may have noticed while the falcons incubate their eggs.

Both adults share incubation duties, although the female does most of the sitting. During the time when the female is on the eggs, the male does the bulk of the hunting. When the male flies in with prey, the female will take the prey away from the nest ledge to eat, and the male will take over incubation duties.

At other times, the male will fly in and indicate his willingness to take over sitting on the eggs by flying to the nest and giving the "echup" call and usually bowing before the female. There is then a "changing of the guard," where the female flies off, generally not very far, to preen or occasionally to hunt on her own, while the male guards the eggs.

Either bird, when settling in to incubate, moves gingerly when over the eggs. The falcons are careful to keep their feet bunched up in order to avoid inflicting damage to the eggs with their sharp talons. The birds also periodically roll the eggs with their beaks, in order to incubate them evenly.

Peregrine chicks generally start cheeping even before they begin to emerge from the shell, and become progressively louder once the actual hatch begins. The chicks start to pip about 72 hours before the hatch. You may notice the adults at this time looking down and seeming very focused. The are obviously aware of the sounds and motion of the hatching eggs. Peregrines are born with an "egg tooth," and once this begins to cut through the shell, things usually progress rapidly.

Once one egg begins to hatch, the others will rapidly follow, with no more than a day or two from beginning to end of the clutch. Life then begins in earnest.

April 20, 2004
In the March 24th update we discussed the aerial courtship displays of the peregrine falcon. Now we will take a look at "ceremonies" that occur at the nest site. Most of these ceremonies have names and are readily recognizable.

The pair greeting ceremony occurs early in the courtship cycle. One bird, calling on the ledge, is joined by its mate, and both birds call together while holding their heads low. This is known as the "head low bow" display and occurs frequently throughout the breeding cycle. It is performed by both sexes, but mostly by the male, especially when his mate approaches. The bird leans forward, bill pointed toward the ground in an exaggerated bow, and this is accompanied by a lot of creaking and wailing.

The male frequently approaches the nest in this head low posture, doing an exaggerated high step. He may then settle in the nest and make scraping motions, all the while calling to his mate. The female may also make scraping motions, but this usually occurs only a few days before egg laying.

Courtship feeding of the female by the male begins around the same time as the ledge ceremonies. Courtship feeding in peregrines is far from a mere symbolic ceremony. In fact, almost all the female's energy requirements for much of the breeding period are supplied by her mate.

When courtship feeding occurs at the nest, it typically involves the male flying to the female with prey. As he lands before her, he transfers this prey from his talons to his beak, and bows to her, sometimes walking on tip-toe. The female accepts the food from her mate, frequently flying to another perch to eat. For a period of about two weeks before egg laying, the female may assume a begging pose much like a juvenile bird, squatting and calling for a meal.

If our viewers observe that these courtship displays involve some very obsequious behavior on the part of the male, they are correct in that assumption. Female peregrines are a third again as large as the male; thus, the origin of the term "tiercel" for the male. The female is indeed the dominant one of the pair, and her potential for inflicting damage to her mate accounts for the evolution of these courtship rituals.

April 19, 2004
The Peregrine cam is now fully functional, and we are waiting to see if we can get a look at how many eggs are in the nest.

All we know for certain is that the first egg was laid on March 25. In most cases, peregrine falcon clutches consist of three or four eggs laid approximately two days apart. Peregrines are what are known as synchronous hatchers, which simply means that all the eggs hatch at about the same time. Because of this, peregrines do not start to incubate until what is known as the penultimate egg is laid. This is the third, or sometimes the fourth egg.

Peregrines incubate their eggs for approximately 32 days. For the Jersey City birds, this should result in a hatch date in early May.

We will talk more about life in the nestbox in our next update.

April 2, 2004
The incubation of eggs has begun! The still images on the Webcam page are current, updating every three minutes. We expect to have live video on Monday or Tuesday.

March 24, 2004
The 101 Hudson Street peregrines have remained Jersey City residents and should be on eggs by the beginning of April. Peregrine falcons retain their pair bonds over the winter and tend to remain near their nest ledge, as long as there is sufficient prey. With the pigeon population of Jersey City, this would tend to not be a problem.

We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties with the peregrine cam but hope it will be up and running in the very near future so our viewers will be able to watch the eggs being incubated.

For now, we ask you to use your imagination as we take a look at courtship in the world of the peregrine falcon. Courtship activities take several forms, both in the air and on the nest ledge. The following discusses aerial courtship displays.

Aerial courtship is very closely related to territoriality, and in most cases these rituals are performed by the male. It is his way of attempting to keep the female bonded to him, and at the same time, warn potential competitors that this turf has already been taken. Some of the flight displays executed by the male include high circling, undulating flight and aerial figure eights. There is also a breathtaking flight in which the male goes into a steep dive followed by a rapid pulling up. (Think of the letter “V”.)

In other flight rituals the two birds reaffirm their pair bond simultaneously, with one bird diving on the other and occasionally “barrel-rolling” with or without talons being presented or locked. There is also a display that involves symbolic food passing, as the male attempts to show that he is indeed a good provider. All of this is accompanied by much loud calling between the pair.

The female also has her own display, known in ornithological circles as the “begging flight.” In this mode, the female flies with her tail fanned and held low, all the while uttering a harsh wailing sound. This display is similar to what we see when the young first fledge and fly after their parents, begging for food.

In our next update, we will discuss about the courtship displays performed on or near the nest ledge.

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