Conserve Wildlife Blog

Three healthy peregrine falcon eyases in Elizabeth!

May 7th, 2022

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Another season of growth and new life is here! As many species are beginning their annual life cycle to reproduce, some peregrine falcon pairs already have young. The eyases (young falcons) at the Union County Falcon Cam are a prime example. They are now a little over a week old and have been examined and treated for a pigeon borne disease, called trichomoniasis, which adult falcons can transfer to their young. If young falcons would get trich., then they could perish. Kathy Clark, NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Supervisory Zoologist, UC staff and colleague Cathy Malok, w/ The Raptor Trust visited the site to ensure the survival of this brood.

Many watched live as the adult female left the nestbox to defend her nest, which falcons do by flying and calling — often while dive bombing intruders, hence the umbrella in hand! They put the young falcons in a box so they can be easily handled, examined and medicated before being returned to their nest. The disturbance was only for a short time and is nothing that would deter the adults from returning to care for their young afterwards.

Nest sites like this, on buildings in urban areas, have played a key role in the successful recovery of falcons in New Jersey. Once successful nesting occurred on old hacking towers (that were used to re-establish falcons here), it didn’t take long for falcons to find buildings in urban areas, since they mimic cliffs, one of their historic nesting areas. Urban sites often hold plentiful prey, another key component for successful nesting by falcons.

At this site in Union County, staff first saw a pair of falcons on the County Courthouse in Elizabeth in 2005. They did not do very well, so staff reached out to Kathy Clark for guidance. Being the “mother of all falcons in NJ,” Kathy recommended that a nestbox (Dogloo) be placed atop the building. This would give them protection from the elements and safety for their young. The nesting pair was finally productive.

>> Learn more about the history of the Union County Falcon Nest

Fast forward a decade and with guidance from CWF, a couple live streaming network cameras were installed atop the roof to give biologists, building managers and the public a glimpse of their annual life cycle. The live streaming cameras allow us to build appreciation for falcons (and other raptors) in urban areas, who play a crucial role as an indicator species. As top tier predators, they are very vulnerable to contaminants in the food chain, which bioaccumulate in their prey (small birds). Heavy metals like mercury and lead, DDE (a derivative of DDT), PCBs, and brominated flame retardants, can be found in unhatched falcon eggs, so if and when an egg does not hatch, it will be collected for future contaminant studies.

CWF is thrilled to partner with Union County to help stream the Union County Falcon Cam on the world wide interweb! If you have not checked out the live stream yet, then you should! In another week, the young will start to move around the nestbox even more, especially when temperatures warm up.

>> Watch the Union County Falcon Cam!

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One Response to “Three healthy peregrine falcon eyases in Elizabeth!”

  1. Barb McKee says:

    So happy to see three new eyases at this site!! Let’s hope for healthy fledglings later on!