Conserve Wildlife Blog

Three Little Chicks!

May 14th, 2010

Monitoring Peregrine falcons in New Jersey

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Three peregrine falcon nestlings that are approximately 2 1/2 weeks old. © Ben Wurst

On May 13th, I got the chance to visit a peregrine nest site to perform a “nest check.” The purpose of the visit was to count the number of young, determine age and sex, and check for any other issues (like infestations of a wingless parasitic fly).Over the past few years, the wingless flies have caused nests to fail to produce young. Over the winter, we treated gravel at nest sites to help get the parasites in check. I only observed 3 parasites on the nestlings.

There were three nestlings at the nest site. They are approximately 17 – 20 days old. Age can be determined by the size and feather development of the young. Sex can be determined by the size of the nestlings and the length of the culmen (upper mandible or bill). It looked like there were two males and one female.

Most peregrines nesting in New Jersey are resident birds that remain near the nest site throughout the entire year. Peregrine nests, known as an aerie, have a simple depression in a gravel substrate, called a scrape. Peregrines nest in urban areas on buildings, under bridges and on old “hacking” towers along the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey.

An old "hacking" tower is home to a pair of peregrines along the coast of New Jersey. © Ben Wurst

The young are totally dependent upon their parents until they are ready to fly in approximately seven weeks after hatching. Upon fledging, or leaving the nest, the young remain dependent, to a degree, on the adults until they master their flight and hunting skills.

You can view the live interactions of a pair of peregrines at a nest site in Jersey City by tuning into our Peregrine Cam. Check it out today!

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