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2011 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.

September 27, 2011 - Prey Transfer
A new page of photos taken in July show a parent training its fledgling.

September 1, 2011 - Chick Update by Bonnie Talluto
Nestbox News reported in the May 17 entry that the third eyas was removed from the nestbox due to health reasons, but was to be hacked and released in New River Gorge National River in West Virginia (see the June 9 entry). Unfortunately, this has not been the case though the bird is doing well considering the initial bleak outlook. Fledgling in West Virginia

While under evaluation at the Three Rivers Avian Center in West Virginia prior to hacking, it was determined that tbe eyas was not suitable for release. The bird had lost its tail feathers and would have trouble flying. There also seemed to be another developmental problem. But a more important consideration was that the bird was not relating to the other peregrines and the other peregrines were treating the bird as different. It was learned later from Dr. Erica Miller that when the bird first came to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Delaware, that there was no other raptor available where the bird could be housed and learn appropriate behaviors.

Upon the eyas' return to Tri State, Mr. Phung Luu of Dover, Delaware, a world-renowned avian flight trainer and animal behavior specialist, agreed to take him. Fellow WCC volunteer Mike Girone and I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Luu and see his free-flight demonstration at a Tri-State benefit in Delaware in July. Mr. Luu and his assistant, Jackie, both said that the bird from 101 Hudson will be a fabulous educator bird.

We are planning to see the fledgling when he makes his first public appearance, after his flight feathers have grown in. Pictures show that he has turned into a magnificent looking peregrine. He should have a good, long life with Mr. Luu.

July, 2011 - Fledgling Watch
Visit the 2011 Jersey City Fledge-Watch page for accounts of this year's young taking to the skies above 101 Hudson Street and beyond.

June 20, 2011: Fledgling News
Peregrine observers Mike G. and Bonnie T. watched quite a lot of action by the new fledglings over the weekend. On Saturday both juveniles were perched on 101 Hudson about three floors from the top.

On Sunday, the juvenile male was seen flying within a 2-block radius of 101 Hudson Street, while the juvenile female remained mostly perched about one block away, high atop 10 Exchange Place. Mike also saw both adults nearby keeping close watch on their offspring, interspersed with the excitement of the young male trailing the adult male in short flights around the block. Mike sends us this photo of one of those flights.

It's great to see and know that the fledglings have success in their first days of flight. Each day they should get stronger in controlling their flying, and learn as they watch their parents for cues on soaring and how to catch things in mid-air.

Male fledgeling chases female
Male fledgling chases its female parent
Click to enlarge

June 16, 2011 - Empty Nest Syndrome
The peregrine nest box is mostly empty these days. The last day any young were seen was Sunday. This photo was taken on Saturday, late afternoon, and is the final nest shot this season.

Nestlings sleepingPeregrine Project volunteer Mike G. was watching from the streets on Tuesday and documented fledging by the juvenile female (06/AN), who was seen perched on Exchange Place, about one block away from 101 Hudson Street. Fledging at just 5 weeks of age is early for a female (females generally fledge at 6 to 7 weeks of age, while males fly at 5 to 6 weeks).she seemed very anxious to be out and about! The male (17/AC) was still near the nest ledge, probably not yet fledged. By this date it's likely he has also tested his wings.

With the young out of the nest box, and no rooftop camera operating, we will be shutting the webcam off. The Endangered and Nongame Species Program pays quite a high price for transmitting this webcam image, so turning off the signal means keeping money to be used elsewhere in endangered and threatened wildlife research and management!

We thank all the falcon-fans for their care and watching this season. We will provide updates here in Nestbox News of the fledglings when they are sighted by our dedicated street observers!

June 9, 2011 - Out and About!
Yesterday afternoon the female nestling made her way out of the nest box, but her brother remained inside all day. We were happy to see that both nestlings were inside the box last night.

Solitary chick This morning, the female youngster has been going in and out of the box using the ramp on the far left side, and about 9:50 this morning, the young male was observed walking down the ramp himself, for the first time. This is one of their first milestones in fledging, so they now have the larger roof area across which they will walk, run and flap and build up their muscles.

There is good news from Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research. The J.C. nestling that was removed from the nest on May 14 because of its small size and inability to stand was treated successfully! He was deemed healthy and was sent to West Virginia yesterday with a group of 11 other peregrine nestlings. (Click for photo)

The WV Dept. of Natural Resources and Three Rivers Avian Center are partners in a peregrine hacking program in the New River Gorge National River. Peregrines donated from New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia are set for release into the cliff and mountain region, where it's hoped they will return when they are old enough to nest. More details on the hacking project are available at www.tracwv.org/restoration.html (not yet updated with 2011 information). We in New Jersey are happy to have enough peregrine nestlings to help with the peregrine's restoration into the southern Appalachian Mountains. Most of the NJ nestlings came from bridge nests where fledging success is usually suboptimal.

We are very grateful to Dr. Erica Miller and Tri-State for the great work they do, and in particular for the creative and successful treatment of the little peregrine who needed a little help.

June 7, 2011 - Growing Fast
The young peregrines are growing up quickly now. Their appearance has changed a lot in the last week, from mostly white down feathers to mostly brown body and flight feathers. At 32 days of age they are quickly changing into near-fledglings. It is a little surprising they haven't yet left the nest box, but that will happen any time now.

Viewers will note how much they perch on the front rim of the box. This evening, they each took turns pulling at the remains of a prey carcass, learning how to feed themselves. They also spent time vocalizing in the direction of a parent, apparently begging for a food delivery. They're not quite ready to give up room service!

The male is slightly more brown than the female; with his slightly smaller body size, his feathers will be full grown a little sooner than his sister. It's likely he will want to venture out of the box first, but that remains to be seen.

Once they leave the nest box, we will lose sight of them. Even when the outside camera was working, the chicks were within camera range only irregularly. They walk all over the roof, and will run and flap as they exercise their wings and get the feel of the lift they produce. The flapping exercise is important for muscle development that will help make their first flight successful. That will happen sometime in the next week or two.

June 1, 2011 - Banding Report
The Jersey City nestlings were banded yesterday morning. ENSP biologist Kathy Clark was assisted by Wildlife Conservation Corps volunteer Mike Girone. The 15-foot walk to the nest box was treacherous, as both adult falcons dive-bombed as Kathy and Mike kept cover under a large golf umbrella.

Chicks in box for banding
Awaiting banding and medication
Click to enlarge
Chicks back in nestbox
After banding
Click to enlarge
The chicks were taken inside where it was determined that there is one of each, female and male. The female was banded with black/green color band 06/AN, and the male with black/green 17/AC.

(Thanks to Mike for allowing use of his photos, above, and for posting more at Flickr.)

Both chicks looked perfectly healthy and in great body condition. They were given a follow-up antibiotic treatment as a precaution against Trichomoniasis, since they have a lot of pigeon in their diet.

The work went quickly and the chicks were returned to the nestbox under watchful peregrine eyes. Before leaving, the 2x6 board that serves as a ramp was placed for the chicks to get back in the box, should they need to, after they hop out and onto the building roof. It's likely they will do so in the next week or so, as they get anxious to move about more.

Today's visit should be the last this season; once the nestlings start hopping about, it's not safe for anyone to be in the nest area lest a young one get spooked and try to leave before they're able to fly. In just two to three short weeks, they will be testing their wings for real.

The third nestling from this nest, which was removed on May 14th due to a problem with its legs, is doing very well at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research. The extra attention and some treatment to support his legs seem to be working, and he is a candidate for release into the wild pending additional work and evaluation. Many thanks to the medical staff at Tri-State for putting him on the right road, or flyway!

May 31, 2011 - Banding Day
Viewers tuning in later this morning may see an empty box - or, if their timing is just right, see biologist Kathy Clark's hands removing the two chicks for banding or returning them. We'll post a report tomorrow about the condition, gender and other information we gather about the two young falcons.

May 19, 2011 - Jersey City Alumnus SightedBrooklyn peregrine on ledge
A peregrine that fledged from 101 Hudson Street nest in 2004 has been spotted (again) at a nest in Brooklyn.

The female with black-over-red band M/*S had been sighted in Brooklyn in 2009, but last week was sighted at a recently found nest on the Brooklyn Detention Complex, in one of the recessed windows on the building. She may have nested there last year as well, and it's likely she has nested in Brooklyn since becoming mature (approximately 2007). It appears she has a very secure nest site, as the partial grate over the window provides some additional protection; it also creates the appearance of "chicks behind bars" as local observers have joked!

We thank Barbara Saunders of NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation for providing this resighting and photo.

May 17, 2011 - Chick Update
The third nestling was removed from the nest on Saturday because we judged it to be significantly behind, developmentally, from its siblings, and it exhibited a problem with its legs. The chick was evaluated by Dr. Erica Miller at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, DE.

Dr. Miller says that it does have splayed legs that are keeping it from standing properly, but she has begun treating it to attempt to improve the function of the chick's legs. The bird is also on a calcium supplement. There does not seem to be any other deformity. With a lot of luck, this bird may recover. We will have to see if he becomes well enough to make it out in the wild.

May 16, 2011 - Nest Check
Viewers will probably notice there are two chicks in the nest. Biologist Kathy Clark checked the nest Saturday and found that the smallest of the three nestlings was not well, and she removed it to get special care for it.

The smallest chick was showing some problem with its legs such that it could not stand and therefore was not getting its share at feeding time. The chick will be evaluated to see if it can be treated successfully, but it probably cannot be returned to the Jersey City nest because it is too far behind developmentally.

The good news is the remaining two chicks looked very strong and healthy, and they got an extra boost by the medicine provided today to ward against Trichomoniasis, a pigeon-borne disease to which urban peregrines can be vulnerable. There was no sign of the fourth chicks suspected to have hatched and died quickly; some viewers reported seeing the adult remove it from the nest last week.

The adults were at their most defensive Saturday, making it a real challenge to get to and from the nest. The female will continue to brood them closely for the next week, when the chicks have more down feathers to keep themselves warm; then the adults will need to spend more time hunting to provide for the very fast-growing, hungry chicks.

May 11, 2011 - Just Three Chicks
Yesterday staff and viewers became concerned that we were only able to positively identify three chicks. Due to their small size and limited time on camera, it is sometimes hard to distinguish the individual chicks. However, a viewer via e-mail at 5:03pm on May 9th that she had seen what looked like a dead chick being removed by the female but couldn't be certain.

Today, during a feeding which began at 9:40am, it was clear that only three chicks are in the nestbox. During that feeding one chick was "pinned" by one of its siblings and unable to sit erect to receive any food. However, during a subsequent feeding it was sitting up alot and getting fed.

We will monitor the video throughout the day to ensure the third chick was just unlucky during the 9:40 feeding or if it too is at risk. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of biologists and the chicks' parents, not all hatchlings survive to fledge.

Four peregrine chicks May 8, 2011 - Four Healthy Chicks
Alert viewers were finally able to confirm the fourth chick had joined its siblings. Both adults are attentive parents and so far things are going well for the newest additions to New Jersey's recovering peregrine falcon population.

May 7, 2011 - Three Chicks Confirmed
As of late morning there was still one unhatched egg, but three chicks were observed activley feeding and under close care by the female. Both adults cooperate to ensure enough food is provided while maintaining close the nestbox to protect thier young.

A regular viewer in The Netherlands (Dutch Eagle Fan) captured the first feeding of the first chick. She shared it with the world by posting on Bird Cams Around the World; it can also be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=59UuLqO4K2k. We thank her for making this unique and incredible video available to everyone.

We'll keep watching and hope we have the fourth chick soon.

May 6, 2011 - HATCHING!
3:08 p.m. Update: There are 2 chicks (that just got fed by the female), and while she left them to dispose of the prey, it looked like another egg was in the process of hatching! Should be an exciting weekend!

8:10 a.m.: Staff taking a break from usual duties were lucky enough to see the female move and tuck a newly hatched chick back underneath her. What appeared to be an unhatched egg was also glimpsed. Hopefully there will be a full healthy clutch of four chicks by tonight!

April 29, 2011 - Video Stream Down
We are aware that there is an issue with the live stream from the webcam and apologize for the disruption. Staff will restore the video as soon as possible; the still images are still being generated which allows us, and the public, to continue to monitor the nestbox. To view the images, which refresh about every three minutes, visit  www.njfishandwildlife.com/peregrinecam/jcp-still.htm.

April 21, 2011 - Incubation Continues
Happy Earth Day! (a day early). Incubation continues atop 101 Hudson Street in Jersey City. Viewers get a glimpse of the four eggs only when the adults get up to exchange duties or to stretch, but these peregrines are the essence of diligence during the 32-33 days of required incubation, very focused on their duties. We are projecting hatching to occur around May 5-6.

The ENSP staff and volunteers are monitoring peregrine nesting at about 20 other sites around the state. The recent rain and wind storms may have caused problems at some sites that are more vulnerable to easterly winds. In many cases all we can do is document the outcome of those nests. (See the annual reports at www.njfishandwildlife.com/ensp/raptor_info.htm#peregrine for details.)

The Jersey City peregrines have been very successful over the years. During a nest check visit in March, we determined the adults are the same birds that have nested here since at least 2005 (the female) and 2006 (the male, banded *2/*6). The female has not been identified except that she wears a silver federal band and no color band. The male was banded in 2003 at Riverside Church in NY, making him 8 years old this year. (The male first appeared in the August 22, 2003 Nestbox News entry when, as an immature bird, it landed and was photographed on an apartment terrace in Edgewater!) Both are fiercely defensive of their nest and have been good parents over the years.

Keep watching this great natural show! We look forward to more action shots soon!

Male perched showing bands
Male peregrine guards his territory; note identifying bands.
Click to enlarge
Diligent observer Mike Girone reports there are 4 eggs now! As of late yesterday morning there were still 3; for the rest of the day he wasn't able to check the webcam often enough to glimpse the eggs when the adults were off them and we received no other reports. However, keeping an eye on the webcam this morning he was rewarded when, at 11:30, the female got off the eggs, and he saw all 4 of them!

Incubation has now begun in earnest. Since the incubation period is typically 32-33 days we can anticipate hatching around the first week of May. Hopefully it will be an uneventful month until hatching.

April 1, 2011 - The Third Egg
Although true incubation doesn't begin until all eggs are laid, both parents are spending time keeping the eggs warm, and therefore viable, as the unseasonable cold weather continues. Around 11:40 this morning Mike glimpsed a third egg when the adults traded positions. He also reported that the last still image he saw yesterday evening showed 2 eggs, so #3 apparently arrived during the night or very early this morning.

March 30, 2011 - Egg Laying Continues
Dedicated viewer Mike Girone reports that sometime between 1:40 and 5:30 yesterday a second egg was laid. He also observed the "changing of the guard" as the male and female exchanged places in the nestbox. A screen shot from yesterday afternoon can be viewed on Mike's Flickr site.

First egg of 2011 March 28, 2011 - The First Egg
The 2011 nesting season is truly under way - when staff first viewed the webcam at 8:00 a.m. this morning the female was sitting over the scrape. At 8:15, when staff again checked the camera, she was perched on the lip of the box and a single egg was seen! After checking with other reliable viewers we learned that the egg had actually been laid on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Michael Girone.)

Eggs are usually laid every other day, and with 3-4 eggs being the norm we can expect incubation to begin in earnest the week of April 3; hatching will occur approximately a month after that. We will be updating Nestbox News periodically during that period. Enjoy your viewing!

March 23, 2011
Welcome to the 2011 edition of Nestbox News!

After overcoming some technical difficulties, the webcam atop 101 Hudson Street has begun streaming live and still images over the Internet!

Staff has observed both adults on the roof and there is a scrape in the nestbox awaiting a clutch of eggs. Since egg laying typically occurs between late March and the end of April we can anticipate it at any time. Incubation begins only after all the eggs (usually 3-4) have been laid and lasts 32 to 33 days.

The new box installed last year weathered the intense winter storms well, but the "outside" camera housing didn't fare as well, so for the time being we will only have one still image (captured from the live "inside" camera) available. We hope to have the second camera repaired and sending images soon.

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).

As the economy slowly recovers 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: September 27, 2011