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2012 Peregrine Nestbox News

Nestbox News is an account of activity at a nestbox atop Mack-Cali Realty Corporation's 101 Hudson St., Jersey City, by biologists in the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). Follow this chronicle of the nesting behavior and activity of peregrine falcons and their chicks.

We encourage viewers to help support the webcam and all the work of the ENSP through the Income Tax Check-off for Wildlife and Conserve Wildlife License Plates. We appreciate and value your support, as well as the support we've received from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and the Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and its staff at 101 Hudson - without their cooperation the nestbox and webcam would not be possible.


August 13, 2012 - More Sad News
We are sorry to report that another of the Jersey City falcons died recently. The young male, band 17/AM, was found by our friend David Defino near the entrance to 10 Exchange Place, just across the street from 101 Hudson St. building. David retrieved the ailing bird and drove him to The Raptor Trust on August 1st, where he died shortly after.

A post-mortem was done by Dr. Erica Miller at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, DE, and cause of death was probably aspergillosis, a respiratory infection that was probably worsened by stress and thin body condition. Additional testing should confirm this, as well as test for exposure to West Nile virus and contaminants.

This is a sad reminder that for young peregrine falcons, like all young raptors, survival to adulthood is filled with risks. About half do not make it through their first year. Happily, the survival rate after year one is usually well over 80%. An example of that side of the coin is the adult female who has called 101 Hudson St. home since (at least) 2005: we don't know her exact identity, but she is eleven years old at a minimum. Average age of breeding peregrines in NJ is eight years, with maximum age usually topping out at 16 to 17 years in the wild. This female continues to do well, maintaining her territory and raising young amidst the hazards of the city.

July 6, 2012 - Webcam Shutdown
Followers of the live feed and still images by now realize the webcam was shut down (a cost saving measure) on July 2. The birds were rarely if ever on camera at that point. Fortunately, dedicated WCC volunteers and falcon observers Mike Girone and Bonnie Talluto have kept us aprised of falcon activity in the vicinity of 101 Hudson. Two reports (June 22 and 26) follow below.

June 26, 2012 - Update from Mike Girone
Bonnie & I were downtown this morning from 7:30 - 10:00 a.m. After a 7:00 - 9:45 a.m. visit on Sunday yielded no falcon sightings, today definitely made up for it! We headed out to the pier upon arrival, and after maybe 15 minutes, spotted one of the adults flying around in front of 10 Exchange Place. It circled for a bit, then headed west over 101 Hudson. Right around 8 a.m., we saw both fledglings appear! They perched on 15 Exchange Place, which is just south of 10 Exchange. We walked to a spot almost right in front of 10 Exchange for a better look. One fledgling was on the north side, the other on the east side. The adult female dropped off a pigeon to the fledgling on the north side, then she began circling very low directly over us!! She gradually gained height, then headed west and turned north behind 10 Exchange over Hudson St.

We had lost track of the fledgling on the east side of 10 Exchange in the meantime, while the fledgling on the north side fed on the prey. Around 8:39 a.m., we spotted the 2nd fledgling back near 101 Hudson and much higher. He was doing his best to mimick how his parents face into the wind and hold themselves nearly motionless. Today's weather was September-like: temperature in the upper 50s when we arrived, with a mix of clouds and sun, and brisk winds out of the Northwest. Perfect flying weather! The 101 Hudson fledgling then practiced soaring and looked to be doing quite good! A notable set-up from Friday when they were still mainly flapping. He went around to the south side of 101 Hudson and out of view.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the adult female flew up to a parapet on the SE corner of 101 Hudson. A few minutes later, the adult male came in and landed on a ledge a few floors above her, and we heard some e-chupping between them. The adult male shifted to the opposite side of the parapet and out of our view. Not for long though! Shortly before 9:20 a.m., he re-appeared in the form of a steep stoop towards Hudson St.! We lost him behind the low buildings lining the river, but he quickly re-appeared, carrying a starling-size bird. He began soaring, with the adult female below him. He circled with the prey for quite a few minutes high over the river promenade, then flew around to the south side of the Goldman Sachs tower. The adult female, meanwhile, returned to her previous perch at 101 Hudson. She then took off again, heading toward the east end of 10 Exchange. The adult male appeared behind her, and they both hooked around the north side of the building and out of view.

Around 9:45 a.m., one of the fledglings (perhaps the one that had been at the building with the pigeon) was seen circling over 15 Exchange Place and areas just south. The adult female joined him, and together they circled and gained altitude, then headed towards the SE side of 101 Hudson. The adult female briefly landed on her previous parapet perch, but the fledgling came in and got her back in the air! He then chased her around to the north side of 101 Hudson, then back to 10 Exchange Place. The fledgling landed somewhere on the upper floors of the building out of our view, while the adult female returned to 101 Hudson's SE corner, where she remained until we left at 10 a.m.

We were able to get great views and photo opportunities of the entire falcon family during these 2 visits. Photos can be seen on Bonnie's blog: www.bonnietalluto.com as well as my Flickr gallery at www.flickr.com/photos/80696806@N06/sets/72157630302071694/.

June 22, 2012 - Report of Two Fledglings from Mike Girone
Bonnie & I were downtown today from about 2:30 - 5:00 p.m., and had quite an exciting time! It began with us arriving in JC at the same time as a thunderstorm, and we witnessed quite a lightning show! The storm ended fairly soon after we arrived though, and the weather had improved alot (still humid, but much cooler and breezy).

We initially saw a fledgling on one of the lower ledges on the south side of 10 Exchange Place. We moved to the waterfront but it was gone. We had quick glimpses of a falcon(s) swinging out from behind the west side of 10 Exchange and disappearing back. So we moved west to the corner of Hudson & Montgomery St. (near the front entrance of 101 Hudson).

After not seeing any birds for a bit, I noticed a dark shape on a lower building across the street above the Lite-Rail station, which turned out to be the adult male. He had some company in the form of a starling that was not at all happy to see him! The falcon paid little attention to his noisy neighbor, and after some stretching, took off heading north over Hudson St. He started soaring over Columbus Ave. just NW of 10 Exchange. He then began making some low passes over the various roof areas on the west side of the building (not aggressive, more like trying to coax someone to fly), then returned to 101 Hudson.

Shortly afterward, 1, then 2 falcons came off the west side of 10 Exchange, and began chasing each other and playing talon-tag! After watching with binoculars and reviewing photos, we saw that the falcons were the 2 surviving fledglings!

They showed some nice agility and ability to stay airborne for good amounts of time. They made multiple landings on the upper ledges of 10 Exchange, and one of them even landed atop the high spire on the east side of the building! They also made a few flights out along the shoreline of the river and over the Hyatt hotel that sticks out into the river, as well as a few passes near 101 Hudson. Both were on the southeast area of 10 Exchange when we left at 5 p.m.

I've posted photos of the day's activity in my Flickr gallery at www.flickr.com/photos/80696806@N06/sets/72157630250521340/.

June 20, 2012 - Sad News from Jersey City
Volunteer observers Mike Girone and Bonnie Talluto were beginning to get concerned about only seeing two chicks, and then only one on Sunday, and we've now confired that at least one has not survived the difficult fledging process. Engineers for CBRE management at 10 Exchange Place contacted us reporting they recovered a young falcon which apparently flew into the building. Its leg band confirmed it was one of the three nestlings from 101 Hudson St.

Since Mike and Bonnie only saw one chick Sunday it's quite possible that two have been lost. Followers of Nestbox News over the years know the difficulties an urban setting presents to these fast flying birds. We remain hopefull the remaining chick(s) continues to improve her flying skills and grows to be a reproducing adult in New Jersey or nearby state.

Regardless of how many fledglings remain, they are in good "hands" with expert hunters for parents (see Mike's Flickr gallery of Sunday's successful hunt by the adult female).

June 18, 2012 - Fledgling Watch (Mike Girone and Bonnie Talluto)
On Saturday, we did most of our observing from the corner of Greene St. & Pearl (2 blocks north of 101 Hudson), from about 8:50-11:00 a.m. We're pretty sure we saw the female do an almost complete "360" around 101 Hudson (not a continuous flight; those parapets sure come in handy for the young birds!). That flight took place near the end of our visit.

Yesterday (Sunday) we were back on the corner of Greene & Pearl, from just after 8 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. We had just the female fledgling in view, but think the males were also at 101 Hudson somewhere & just out of view. While we didn't see the young female do any flying this time, we did get quite a thrill around 9:30 a.m.

The young female was on the 41st floor ledge, a few parapets east of the nestbox, and the adult female was atop a parapet directly above her at the very top of the building. At 9:30, the adult female stooped off 101 Hudson, and came rocketing up Greene St. directly toward our position! She covered the 2 blocks in what seemed like just a few seconds! She passed very close, and grabbed a pigeon off the 7th or 8th deck of Plaza 5's parking garage across the road, then circled around with the still-live prey, and delivered the kill-bite no more then 30 or 40 feet over us!!! She then carried the pigeon east over Pearl, circled near a building on Hudson St. just north of Columbus Ave., flew south and landed on a ledge at 10 Exchange Place to defeather the bird. She didn't gain much altitude on the way there, and was really pumping her wings. Afterward, she delivered the prey to the waiting female fledgling on the 41st floor ledge. They had a brief tug-of-war, and both dropped down to the roof. The adult female then flew to the top of 10 Exchange Place.

Not long after, the adult male flew in from the north with some prey, and brought it to the 37th floor ledge/roof on the NW corner of 101 Hudson. He left shortly after, flying north over Plaza 5, while the adult female went to the spot he'd left the prey. She went to the roof, then back onto the ledge, and ate some of it. She dropped to the roof once more, then perched atop the ledge's lone parapet, and remained there until we left around 11:20. We're wondering if one of the young males could have been on that roof area too.

View Bonnie's photos on her blog at www.bonnietalluto.com.

June 12, 2012 - First Flight?
Volunteer Mike Girone received a report from a husband/wife team of falcon watchers that on Sunday (June 10) both adults were observed flying around between 101 Hudson and nearby 10 Exchange Place.

At one point they witnessed a 3rd falcon flying, its tail spread wide and flapping continuously. They described the flight as awkward/non-adult. The adult male came in and flew just below the falcon, and the size difference indicated the "flappy" falcon was female! The flight was brief, and both birds flew back over 101 Hudson. They didn't re-sight the 3rd falcon before they left. So apparently the young female, probably unintentionally, took a brief flight!!

Mike reports he did see two chicks return to the box area in the evening. We therefore believe at least one has taken its first flight.

Three chicks and adult on roof June 11, 2012 - Time to Fledge
How quickly things have changed on our webcam view! A photo from Thursday evening reveals all three nestlings out and about, with mom watching over from the nest box perch.

On Friday viewers could catch glimpses of two of the young on the roof. On Friday night, however, only two of the three roosted inside the nest box for the night. Nest watchers Mike and Bonnie took up watch from street level on Sunday morning, and confirmed that one of the near-fledglings was on a high perch, while two perched on the nest-level ledges. So we are happy to report that all three are doing well and thinking seriously about testing their wings.

To view Bonnie's photos, visit her blog at www.bonnietalluto.com.

June 6, 2012 - Growing, Exploring Chicks
With warmer, and at times drier, weather the past few days, the chicks are spending more time outside the nestbox. At times there are none on camera as they explore the rooftop, at others they are back in the shelter and security of the box. Viewers may catch a glimpse of them exercising their wings as the time of fledging grows closer.

The success of nestboxes for peregrine falcons is widely recognized and they are now found in several locations throughout their historic range. One such box is in Harrisburg, PA, and while the Jersey City birds have had a relatively "routine" season so far with no drama, that hasn't been the case for in Harrisburg. Read about the drama in this Philly.com article.

Chicks in box and on roof May 31, 2012 - Out of the Box
The nestlings are now 28 days old, and their brown flight feathers and body feathers (especially around the eyes) are getting more prominent. They have also gotten a lot more curious about the world around them in just the past few days. One of them explored a bit too far this afternoon and half-stepped, half-fell, out of the nest box. He seems just fine with this turn of events, though, and has been using his limited walking skills under and around the nest box. Not to worry, he will continue to get full care from the adults. Also, he may learn how to use the ramp to return to the box when he sees food deliveries and the related commotion there.

In the coming week the chicks will develop quickly, and it won’t be long before they all make their way out to run and exercise across the roof.

May 30, 2012 - Banding Video
Star-Ledger videographer Andre Malok accompanied zoologist Kathy Clark on Banding Day in Jersey City as well as to a nestbox atop the Union County Courthouse in nearby Elizabeth. The combined footage from both locations provides viewers with great shots of the birds in their urban habitat.

The falcons (and othe birds) are banded as a means to gather data about the birds not only at the time of banding, but also when spotted or recovered in the future. In this case, it allowed us to identify the adult female in Elizabeth as one which fledged from 101 Hudson Street in 2003!

To view the video, go to http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2012/05/peregrine_falcons_continue_a_s.html on the Star-Ledger Videos: NJ.com website.

May 24, 2012 - Banding Day
Zoologist Kathy Clark of the Endangered & Nongame Species Program, along with others from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, converged on 101 Hudson to band the three nestlings today. At 21 days, they were a good age and size for banding, their legs full grown but still young enough to be handled easily. The challenge, as always, was the short trek to the nest box to bring them inside. While the tiercel remained perched just feet from us on the parapet wall, the female flew continuously. Fortunately she was put off by the umbrella over our heads and no people or falcons were harmed in the least.

The nestlings checked out great. Of the three, one is female and two are males. They were banded with bicolor black-over-green bands on the left leg, with the codes 29/AN on the female, and 17/AM and 18/AM on the males. (See Wildlife Conservation Corps Volunteer Mike Girone's photos on Flickr.

After banding, we opened the door with the box of chicks in hand to return to the nest, only to find a rainy downpour complete with lightning and thunder. We waited a few minutes and were able to quickly return the nestlings back to their home in just a light rain.

As planned, we changed the camera feeds so that the streaming video is from the outside camera that is mounted on the building's wall, approximately 15 feet from the nest box. The view from the small camera mounted inside the nest box is available on the page of still photos that refreshes every 3 minutes. With the outside camera that is now streaming, we have control over the view and will be able to zoom and pan around to see the action as it develops in the next few weeks.

We thank the folks at 101 Hudson Street for their help and support, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ (www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org) for their sponsorship.

May 18, 2012 - Growth Spurt
The three nestlings are just two weeks old, and as they enter their third week they are entering a big growth spurt. They have gotten quite a bit larger in the last week, so that they can really jump at the adult's face at feeding time. Their flight feathers are starting to emerge from the feather sheaths, although this isn't readily visible in the camera view. In the coming week their feathering will start to show in their faces and slowly across their bodies. They will be growing in overall size as well as feathering out.

Endangered & Nongame Species Program biologists will be visiting the nest on Thursday to band the chicks, and at that time we'll change the camera views so we'll have the larger camera view available prior to the chicks moving around the nest and, eventually, the rooftop.

May 14, 2012 - Feeding and Growing
Things appear to be progressing well at the nestbox. With milder temperatures and at almost two weeks of age the adults are taking longer breaks from brooding the chicks, which do tend to remain huddled closely together. We've pulled the "outside" still image camera back so viewers can see the adults when perched nearby or atop the nest box.

May 9, 2012 - A Visit to the Nestbox
Viewers tuning in between 9:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. this morning saw an empty nestbox - but had no need for concern! Zoologist Kathy Clark temporarily took the chicks indoors for a quick exam. She also administered a dose of medication to protect the chicks from Trichomoniasis, a pigeon-borne disease. The unhatched eggs were removed for examination.

The feed also went blank for a period as we switched cameras and performed other operations on the system.

Bottom line? We have three healthy chicks. The next milestone will be "banding day" in about two weeks.

May 7, 2012 - Weekend Report
Faithful peregrinecam monitor Mike Girone reports that on Saturday morning he glimpsed a third chick, and screenshots he's provided verify a third egg hatched. We'll watch closely today to see if either of the remaining two eggs hatch, though at this point the likelihood of that is diminishing.

May 4, 2012 - Only Two Chicks?
Staff checking the webcam observed a feeding at 9:00 a.m. this morning. As the heading of this entry indicates, only two chicks were evident. Both were up and feeding enthusiastically, the adult gingerly and delicately feeding each in turn until they would tip over from a full crop. During two other feedings staff observed later in the day there were still only the two chicks - which seem to be doing fine.

Whether the three remaining eggs hatch remains to be seen, but it is known that with a clutch of five eggs it would be remarkable for all five to hatch, and even more so for five to successfully fledge. We'll keep watching.

Feeding two chicks

May 3, 2012 - Hatch Day!
The long wait for hatching appears over - early this morning (6:30am) and again at 9:30am, staff got very quick glimpses of a chick when the female repositioned herself. Then, just before noon during a "shift change" we captured this screen shot of the chick and remaining eggs.

With older females a clutch of five eggs is sometimes observed. While the larger clutch has the potential for a larger brood, it makes incubation more difficult, and of course there will be more mouths to feed should all five hatch. It will be very interesting to see how this season progresses for the falcons at 101 Hudson Street.

Two chicks, three eggs

April 24, 2012
With about a week remaining before the hatch webcam viewing becomes more fraught with tension. Unfortunately, the much-needed weekend rainfall resulted in condensation in the "inside" camera lens, obscuring the view of the incubating adults. However, the zoomed in view from the "outside" camera continues to provide wonderfully crisp close-up images which can be viewed on the Still Images page. We're also hopeful the condensation will clear over the next few days.

As in past years, on "banding day" (about three weeks after hatching) we'll switch the camera feeds and use the new outside camera to stream the live video. A feature of the new camera is the ability to make adjustments its zoom and aim remotely. We're all looking forward to the upcoming excitement.

April 13, 2012 - Incubation - Changing of the Guard
Regular visitors to the webcam pages have probably noticed that the new outside camera has been zoomed in on the incubating female. However, the task of incubation is not hers alone, and reliable peregrine monitor Mike Girone glimpsed an incubation shift-change around 1:30 today. He provided this screen-shot from the Still Images page of the male was waiting for the female to relinquish the incubation to him.

Click the photo for an enlarged image.

Incubation shift change

April 5, 2012 - Waiting For the HatchFemale and five eggs
We're now in the period of monitoring the nestbox, making sure incubation continues uneventfully. Viewers may tune in and be lucky enought to see the adult turning the eggs, feeding or some other activity, but at times there is so little movement it seems the stream has frozen.

During the March 30 visit volunteer Mike Girone accompanied staff with the assignment of photographing the leg bands to positively identify both adults. His presence just outside the roof door sent both birds aloft - this gave us our view of the five eggs, and provided Mike with some great photo opportunities. While he could confirm it is the same female as in the past few years, we still are unable to positively identify her and therefore know her history. The male's identity is known: *2/*6 was banded in 2003 at New York City's Riverside Church, and he's been at 101 Hudson since 2006.

Mike has been good enough to grant permission for the public to view some of the photos he snapped that day. You can view them on his Flickr page.

March 30, 2012 - Incubation...of Five Eggs!
Staff paid a visit to Jersey City today to activate the "outside" camera which is now broadcasting an image viewable on the Still Image Page. A quick visit to the roof to try to verify the band numbers on both adults sent the adults on the defensive and left the eggs uncovered for several minutes. To our surprise revealed why incubation didn't start immediately after the fourth egg was laid - she wasn't done! We now know a fifth egg was laid, possibly late yesterday afternoon.

While 3-4 eggs is typical, five eggs has been documented at other nests. It is thought that older birds are more prone to laying five, and it may indicate the female is nearing the end of her productive years. Whether all five hatch with healthy chicks, and how many successfully fledge, will be very interesting for all of us to observe. Incubation is typically about a month in duration, so we can expect hatching to begin around April 30. Stay tuned!

March 28, 2012 - A Clutch Complete
At some time in mid/late-afternoon yesterday a fourth egg was spotted by Mike Girone. In all likelihood this will complete this year's clutch of eggs. Although early views this morning (7-7:30am) show the eggs unattended, the adults are surely just outside the box and incubation should begin in earnest today.

March 26, 2012 - Three Eggs and Counting...
Faithful peregrine observer Mike Girone reports that a 3rd egg was visible yesterday (Sunday) morning. We surmise is was laid Saturday evening. If things follow the pattern of the past several year a fourth egg should be visible Tuesday morning with incubation commencing in earnest at that time. Even now the female is spending time atop the eggs.

March 21, 2012 - Welcome! We Have Our First Egg!
We welcome returning and first-time visitors to the 2012 edition of Nestbox News - the 2012 nesting season is already under way! When staff made their initial visit yesterday to get the webcam system up and running they were mildly surprised to find the first egg had already been laid. This is the earliest we've documented this event, but with the unseasonably warm weather of late after the mild, snow-free winter it is not surprising - the peregrines nesting on a ledge outside a Hilton Casino penthouse suite in Atlantic City laid eggs more than a week ago and many signs of spring are evident early.

Three eggs
First egg of 2012 While we await the completion of a new "outside camera" system we can monitor the activity inside the box via the Still Image Page. Eggs are usually laid every other day, so we can expect incubation to begin in about a week.

This is sure to be another exciting year observing the peregrine falcons using the nestbox maintained by the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program. The first nestbox was installed in 2001 and has fostered the successful fledging of young every year since (see About the Peregrine Project for a history of the project).

We do want to remind the viewing public that funding for projects such as this remains hard to obtain - the Peregrine Project, like other projects conducted by the ENSP, is funded entirely by grants and donations. Please help this project continue by making a direct donation to the ENSP, or by "checking-off" for wildlife on your state income tax return. By becoming a partner in the work of ENSP you can proudly feel you are doing your part in protecting our endangered and threatened species.

We hope you enjoy following the Jersey City peregrines this season; it's sure to be as exciting - and hopefully as successful! - as it has in past years.

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Last Updated: August 13, 2012