2013 Nestbox News
Highlights from the 2013 nesting season at 101 Hudson St. in Jersey City, New Jersey as viewed from the Peregrine falcon webcam.
June 19, 2013: We have lift-off! Faithful watchers of the PeregrineCam have been witness to exciting times. The lone falcon chick has been exercising and catching some air over the last couple days. After the heavy rains yesterday, he was perched atop the parapet wall over the nest box. He spread his wings and felt the wind through his feathers. He flapped, then flapped some more, and lifted off. An inch or two, then more, lifting off the ledge with legs hanging! He kept at it for 10-15 minutes, flapping, jumping, and several times lifting off and hovering in place above the wall.
The female joined him shortly afterwards and seemed to be enticing him to join her in the sky. She took brief flights in front of him. She finally jumped down to the roof below, leaving him to perch and run along the ledge, looking down (presumably) toward her. This seemed like a lot of activity after an afternoon of heavy rains; perhaps they all had some pent-up energy to release!
June 7, 2013: Earlier this week, Biologists with CWF and the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program traveled to 101 Hudson Street to band the lone chick and give it a check-up.
Outfitted with an umbrella and feather duster, Ben Wurst and Kathy Clark, headed onto the roof to collect the chick. They were met by 2 protective parents, who defended their nest and only chick. The chick, a male, was found to be in excellent condition. He was given some medication to prevent Trichomoniasis, a pigeon-borne disease and banded with both a federal leg band and a state color leg band "44/AM".
The leg band acts like a birth certificate telling us when the bird was born and where it came from. We can learn about peregrines survival rates, longevity, age at breeding, and distances (and locations) traveled during migration. The adult male at this nest was banded ten years ago as a chick at Riverside Church in New York City, and we know this from his color band 2/6. He has been a resident at 101 Hudson Street since 2006. The adult females origins remain unknown, as she is banded with only a federal band whose numbers cannot be easily read from a distance. But we know that she has been at this nest location since approximately 2002, when she would have been at least 3 years old. Falcons banded as chicks in Jersey City have been resighted elsewhere, nesting in nearby Elizabeth (notably, the Union County court house), and in Binghamton, Brooklyn and NYC, and one on a cliff in New Haven, CT.
The next milestone will be the first attempts at flight, anticipated in another two to three weeks. However, it's likely the youngster will soon make his move to leave the nest box - once on the roof he will have a lot of space to run and flap - necessary exercise prior to that all-important first flight. Keep watching!
May 29, 2013: The foster chick from the Sea Isle City nest is thriving, getting plenty to eat and receiving much care from both parents. It is developing well and biologists expect to band it sometime next week. Its next set of feathers are beginning to develop, they are darker and can be found along the tips of its wings.
Sadly, after transfer to The Raptor Trust, the original chick was humanely euthanized due to its abnormalities, both physical and behavioral. Unhealthy offspring is just another obstacle that wildlife must overcome from time to time. With rare wildlife, such as peregrine falcons, biologists may intervene when possible in the interest of helping a species recover. The chick swap that occurred 2 weeks ago, benefits both the Jersey City nest by keeping it active and the Sea Isle pair who now have one less mouth to feed.
May 21, 2013: CWF and ENSP biologists were successful in replacing the ailing chick and unhatched eggs with a foster chick. Both adults are caring for the chick as their own. They are staying close to the nestbox, brooding the chick when necessary, and providing plenty of food. Once we get an update about the sick chick, we will post another update.
Hopefully the drama of the past week is behind us, and we can watch the new chick grow and develop. Banding is anticipated for the first week of June - hopefully we won't have to visit before then.
May 20, 2013: Staff, along with division volunteers and dedicated falcon observers Mike Girone and Bonnie Talluto, have been closely monitoring the webcam since the chick swap on Friday afternoon. While the chick transported to The Raptor Trust did not appear healthy, the Sea Isle City chick is behaving normally, feeding well and most importantly, has been accepted by the adults. Both adults are staying close to the nestbox, brooding the chick during the cool damp weekend and providing plenty of food. We're waiting for an update on the condition of the original chick, but it does appear to have some serious issues.
Hopefully the drama of the past week is behind us as we watch the new chick grow. We'll determine its sex the first week of June when biologists return to Jersey City to examine and band it. Meanwhile, we'll keep watching.
May 17, 2013: Biologists with the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program (NJENSP) have been carefully watching the chick that hatched on Tuesday morning, and have concluded that the hatchling is not well.
Yesterday, the chick was not sitting up, which is necessary for it to be fed. The parents tried to feed it, but on Thursday the chick seemed worse, spending most of its time lying down and even apparently stuck on its back. This is not normal for a chick that is two days old. The other three eggs have not hatched and we don't expect them to hatch at this point. The adults are still trying to incubate them, which is also distracting them from the chick.
We may be seeing the lower nest success that is characteristic of older peregrine falcons. While our female remains an excellent caregiver, her eggs have lower viability, and the chick may suffer from a genetic abnormality. The eggs could also be carrying accumulated toxins that are interfering with hatching and normal chick development.
In the interest of keeping this pair active at the nest site, biologists with NJ ENSP will be providing them with a foster chick this afternoon. The chick will be transferred from a 4-chick nest in Sea Isle City. Biologist Mick Valent will put the chick in and remove the eggs and the sick hatchling. He will deliver the hatchling to The Raptor Trust, where we hope to get a clue as to what is wrong. The eggs will be valuable samples for future analysis.
Fostering chicks into nests is a proven technique and we fully expect the Jersey City adults will quickly adopt the new nestling. By doing this, we will allow the birds to fulfill their nesting cycle, giving full attention to raising one chick. The donor nest also benefits, because the adults will have a little less work raising their three remaining chicks. At both sites, we raise the chances of ultimate survival for all the young.
May 16, 2103: Life is hard for wildlife and as we continue to watch the PeregrineCam, we can see that unfolding before our eyes. The first chick hatched 2 days ago and does not seem to be thriving. The adults are providing food for the chick but it does not seem capable of feeding.
The other 3 eggs should have hatched by now. Peregrines tend to be synchronous hatchers - since incubation doesn't begin until a full clutch of eggs is laid, the eggs hatch at roughly the same time. This trait gives the entire brood an equal start in life. Since it's now been at least 30 hours since the chick was observed, there is an increasing possibility that the other eggs are infertile and won't hatch.
May 14, 2013: HATCHING! An egg hatched earlier this morning at the Jersey City Nest. The other three eggs should hatch shortly - keep watching for a glimpse of the new chicks.
May 10, 2013: We have a LIVE Video! Finally, after many frustrating weeks, IT professionals were able to get the live stream working. And its just in time for hatching, which we expect to happen on Monday or Tuesday next week.
Peregrine chicks possess something called an egg tooth, a horny protuberance on their beaks which helps them break free from their shells. (We find it interesting that the one mammal which hatches from an egg, the duck-billed platypus, also has an egg tooth.) The young birds also can be heard peeping as they near their entry to the world, sometimes as much as 72 hours prior to hatching.
The first part of hatching, known as interior pipping, begins as the hatchling makes a pip (or hole) in the interior air sac and draws its first breath. This takes a long time, and the hatching bird spends much time resting. In the next phase of hatching, exterior pipping, the chick starts to turn counterclockwise in its shell as it makes a series of pips around the shell's circumference, pushing with the egg tooth. The youngster continues to turn, pip, vocalize, and rest, until finally popping free, wet and totally exhausted.
Peregrines tend to be synchronous hatchers, which means that the eggs hatch at roughly the same time, giving the entire brood an equal start in life.
Some signs to watch for that indicate hatching is underway include the adults seeming a little restless while brooding and looking down under themselves. Generally, once the chicks have hatched, the adults will seem to be sitting a little higher on the nest.
It is an exciting time--we hope you will be watching with us.
April 23, 2013: Quiet Time - Incubation is in full swing since the 4th egg was seen on April 11th. With that day as the start of incubation, we can expect hatching around May 13th or 14th. With incubation fully underway, it is a quiet time at the nest with not much activity in the box. The larger female is doing a majority of the incubation. The male is busy though - catching and delivering prey for his mate but larger out of sight of the camera. The eggs are not left alone for more than a couple of minutes.
We are working on getting the video running and hope to have that available soon.
April 11, 2013: The female laid one more egg yesterday for a total of 4 eggs in the nest. Does this complete the clutch or will she lay 1 more like she did in 2012? Keep watching to find out!
April 9, 2013: We believe the first egg was laid almost 1 week ago, on April 3rd. Peregrine females generally lay an egg every other day and begin true incubation once the last egg is laid. A full clutch can be anywhere from 3 to 5 eggs. This female laid 5 eggs last year, a sign that she is increasing in age.
Technical issues are preventing the live video from streaming - so while the kinks are worked out, check out the latest still images on the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife webpage.
Will the female lay more eggs? Stay tuned in to find out!
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