Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Raptors’ Category

Union County Falcon Cam Female “Frida” Lays First Eggs Of The Season

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

Union County Falcon Cam female, “Frida,” stands over her clutch.

Last Friday, Union County Department of Parks & Recreation Environmental Specialist Betty Ann Kelly sent us an exciting update on the Union County Falcon Cam.

It looks like our famous peregrine pair are officially expecting!

Great news! 

As some of you know, the rooftop of the Union County Courthouse has been home since 2006 to a pair of peregrine falcons, a threatened bird of prey species. Our female, nicknamed “Frida” because of her large “unibrow” between her eyes (reminding us of the South American artist) has laid her first egg of the season on March 19th, 2021 at 9:45 a.m.! 

We can expect possibly two or three more eggs over the course of the next few days with hatching occurring sometime in late April. 

Go to ucnj.org/falcon to catch a glimpse of the falcons and possibly the egg on our falcon cam!

We will keep you posted!

Betty Ann Kelly

Just two days later, this past Sunday, we received even more good news!

Today at around 2:20 p.m. after what seemed like considerable effort, our female peregrine falcon laid egg # 2. 

All is well. 

We expect another egg or two in the next few days. When the last egg is hatched, both male and female falcons will consistently incubate. 

By the way, this egg only looks bigger because of the camera’s wide angle lens. 

Go to ucnj.org/falcon to see! 

Betty Ann Kelly

And like clockwork on Wednesday, March 24th, even more good news came down the line!

At around 7:03 this morning, our female falcon laid a 3rd egg. 

She seems to be incubating a little more consistently, so this may be it, but it is possible that she will lay a 4th egg. 

Stay tuned! 

Betty Ann Kelly

Will there be a fourth egg? Stay tuned!

Keep an eye out on the Union County Falcon cam page to watch our falcon friends and maybe catch a glimpse of another egg arrival!

Also remember to check out CWF’s Falcon Cam page to join the Disqus conversation and see screenshots and updates posted by the webcam’s loyal viewers.

Duke Farms Bald Eagles Hatch Two of Three Eggs

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

by Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist

The two Duke Farms bald eagle chicks peek out from under their parent to catch some sun.

It looks like the Duke Farm’s nest will only have two chicks this season.

One egg remains in the nest bowl and is still being incubated, but based on when the second chick hatched, March 1st, it should have hatched by now. We won’t know for certain why the egg didn’t hatch, but one theory is that it was the first egg laid.

There had been intruder eagles at the nest and fights between the adults and intruders. At one point both adults were off the nest for 20 minutes while an immature was in the nest. Perhaps something happened to the egg during these incidents.

The egg will eventually get buried in the nest or shoved to the side. The adults are busy bringing food to the nest for feedings and both chicks are getting plenty of food.

Watch the LIVE Duke Farms Eagle Cam by clicking here.

Read more about the New Jersey Eagle Project by clicking here.


Monitoring New Jersey Ospreys During a Global Pandemic

Friday, February 5th, 2021
For every dark day there was always hope for a brighter future. Results from the 2020 New Jersey Osprey Project.

Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

This was likely one of the most challenging, at least in recent years, in the history of the New Jersey Osprey Monitoring Project. From social distancing and working from home (with children) to severe wind events and dealing with the impacts of humans on ospreys, 2020 turned out to be quite the year. Overall, our work was largely unaffected by the global covid-19 pandemic. Most of our work is conducted outdoors and away from mass gatherings of people. It was important for us to ensure the safety of our volunteers and the general public safe.

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“Dukes” Homecoming

Friday, January 29th, 2021

by Barbara McKee, NJ Eagle Project volunteer

As a volunteer nest observer working for New Jersey’s Bald Eagle Project under the guidance of Kathy Clark and Larissa Smith, I watch and report on six nests in central and northern NJ. When the Duke Farms eagle cam first went online in 2008, I loved watching the adult pair and their nestlings whenever I was at home on my computer! Web cams give us an intimate look into the lives of eagles. By observing close up, so much can be learned about eagle behavior, and this nest was only five miles from my home in Hillsborough. These were my eagle neighbors! In May of 2019, during the annual banding of the two eaglets at the Duke Farms nest, the younger male (banded E/88), was outfitted with a satellite transmitter and became part of the research program “Eagle Trax” to discover where fledglings go when they leave the nest.

Duke first went online Sept 17, 2019, after he had left the nest area, beginning his journey to adulthood as an independent eagle. Although Duke has made short trips over to PA and even a couple times returned briefly to NJ, to his natal nest area, he spent most of his time in Maryland on the lower Susquehanna River and upper Chesapeake Bay.

Then, early last November, I got an email from Kathy Clark. Duke had once again returned to NJ and was in Hillsborough, very close to our home on the Millstone River. I hustled right out with my scope and camera to see if I could spot him. If I was ever going to see Duke “in the wild” it would be now, with no foliage to block the views, while he was just a few miles away! As I searched the small patch of woods that corresponded to the last tracker location, I realized how challenging it would be to find this “eagle in the hay-stack”! Even with experience in spotting eagles, and having some ideas about the behavior of juveniles, where they might perch and what sorts of terrain they might be attracted to, actually seeing Duke would take a lot of patience and persistence, but most of all luck! To find him with good light in a spot where photos are possible, would take even more luck—what were the odds? Although through his transmitter he is being tracked, the data downloads only once every 24 hours, so I only knew where he had been, not where he was in real time!

“Duke” and an immature female feeding on a deer carcass 11/24/20 @ Barb McKee

I have been blessed to have seen Duke about a dozen times in the last eleven weeks. There have been many other times when I was probably looking right at him without seeing him and this is supported by the information from the tracker! A human playing “hide and seek” with an eagle is definitely at a visual disadvantage! I have learned that young eagles prefer wooded cover, small valleys with tiny streams where they might find a rodent or reptile. They tend to perch near water, not large rivers, but rather small creeks in narrow gorges or beside farm ponds. In winter, the best find for a hungry young eagle is a road-killed deer or other animal in a farm field that is fresh, but already immobile. A find like this keeps Duke perched and roosting close by until the food is consumed. I have seen many competitors for this precious winter commodity: vultures, other eagles, pesky crows, and at one site, even a coyote!

I also realized early on that Duke is just as likely to perch low and be almost invisible as he is to perch in a high tree top silhouetted against a light sky. Twice I flushed him off his perch because I was looking up not down. I learned that Duke has a favorite roosting spot where he has spent almost half of the nights he has been in central Jersey, but also discovered that he spent two nights within 100 yards of his natal nest in a small wooded area at Duke Farms!

I have taken hundreds of photos of Duke. The light isn’t always the best, and Duke is usually quite far away, but my photos and videos have shown a healthy and thriving almost-two-year-old who has learned to hunt and to defend his prey! He has also learned to be patient and careful, and to wait his turn, most notably when “sharing” a meal with much larger and thus more assertive young female juveniles!
I have seen him scatter and chase the competition off his food on fields. I saw him try to “steal” something from a hawk in the air. I have seen him in flight, a sight I never tire of! I even saw him perched over the Millstone River in my own back yard, probably searching for fish! That was truly memorable!

“Duke” in flight 1/19/21 @ Barb McKee

Will Duke decide to stay here in central NJ? Will he eventually mate, build a nest, and have nestlings of his own here? I hope so! Evidence suggests that eagles do return to an area not that far from the area where they fledged and began the challenging journey from fledging to maturity. I hope to share Duke’s adventures for many years to come.

Duke Farms Alumni: D/99

Monday, January 25th, 2021

by: Larissa Smith, wildlife biologist

D/99 January 17th 2021 @ Kristen Branchizio

It is always exciting to receive a report of a New Jersey banded eagle, especially when it is from Duke Farms eagle cam. D/99 was resighted two years ago during the winter of 2019. The blog post Duke Farms Alumni D/99: All Grown Up, has all the details of those sightings.

D/99, January 2021 @ Kristen Branchizio

D/99 has been sighted again, this time in Freehold, Monmouth County. He was seen for several days feeding on a deer carcass along with a few other eagles.

D/99 was the youngest of three chicks in the 2014 Duke Farms nest. It’s amazing to see the “before” and “after” photos. The little fuzzy wobbling chick is now a full grown majestic adult.

D/99 and siblings, April 2nd, 2014

D/99 is now seven years old and could possibly have a mate and be nesting in the area. We hope to get more resightings of D/99 in the future to know that he is doing well and raising his own family.