The 2006 peregrine falcon nesting season is underway at Buckeye and SW's home sweet home located on the 12th floor ledge of a skyscraper called "Tower City" in downtown Cleveland, Ohio (the red circle shows the nestbox location).
Longer daylight hours (photo sensitivity) and warmer days are triggering the birds into courtship, and SW and Buckeye have now begun their annual nesting life-cycle. As you watch the FalconCam you will see they are spending more time at the nest. Here's a good idea for young scientists from SaraJean Peters, of the Ohio Division of Wildlife (retired):
"The FalconCam "hour review" of images provides an interesting way for kids to practice "sampling" techniques used by wildlife researchers. One would assume that, as the pair extends its courtship, the birds would be seen more and more frequently at the nest tray. By counting the number of frames that contain a view of a peregrine and dividing by 60, the students can calculate the percentage of time spent at the site during the sample period. They could choose several sample periods during the day and see if visitation varies by time of day... How does it change when the chicks are 12 days old...."
This is a still taken from the FalconCam.
Throughout most of their natural history, peregrine falcons have nested on high, remote cliff ledges that are difficult to reach. The nestsite or "eyrie" (also spelled "aerie") really is not a nest but a shallow depression, or "scrape," in the rocks and soil. The following photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows what a peregrine nestsite looks like on a rocky cliff.
As humans began to build skyscrapers in the 20th century, peregrines adapted to the cliff-like buildings and found cities to their liking. At first, peregrines would lay their eggs on a skyscraper ledge and the eggs would often roll off the building during bad weather. Humans have helped nesting peregrines in cities by building nestboxes to avoid this problem. As you watch the FalconCam, you will notice Buckeye and SW scrape an indentation in their nestbox gravel just as they would on a rocky cliff in the wild. In the following picture you can see Buckeye showing off the “scrape” that he made in the gravel in their nestbox on the 12th floor ledge of their skyscraper home.
During February, work was done on Buckeye and SW's skyscraper home and on the FalconCams. Mr. Scott Wright, our penpal and volunteer peregrine falcon nest monitor at this nest-site for 15 years, is seen here cleaning the lens of a FalconCam.
Buckeye guarded his territory from the humans who dared lean out the window.
In February, nearby windows were washed and the falcons kept an eye on the window washers dangling on the skyscraper. Peregrines are fierce predators and sometimes fight, if they must, to protect their nest. Several times over the years, Buckeye and SW have dive-bombed a human window washer who came too close. Last year, the window washers arrived after the eggs were laid, and one of the window washers was attacked by an angry parent and required medical attention on his hand. This year, Mr. Wright asked the window washers to avoid cleaning windows close to the nest after the first week of March.
To see the "hour review" each day, go to the live FalconCam at http://falconcam.apk.net/ Under each of the 3 pictures of the nest on the front page there is a link that will take you to the archives. The live FalconCam takes a picture each minute of every hour. There are 60 pictures for each hour each day. Looking at the archives will give you a quick review of all the day's activities. As you observe the nest every day, why not take Ms. Peterson's suggestion and record how much of the time the falcons are at the nest in one hour and what their activities are? Sampling the nest every day will give you some interesting information about falcon behavior.
Our thanks to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for sponsoring the FalconCams and for the FalconCam stills.
The photo of the Tower City skyscraper is courtesy of Tony Rinicella, who works in a nearby building. Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the picture of a peregrine nestsite on a rocky cliff. Other photos are courtesy of Scott Wright. They can be used in any non-commercial publication, electronic or print, but please give photo credit.