Like other woodpeckers, the red-headed woodpecker has zygodactyl feet, in which two toes point forward and two point backward, enabling it to cling vertically to trees.
Union County Falcon Cam
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ has partnered with Union County to stream this falcon nest live from the roof of the County Courthouse in downtown Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Buildings and their owners/managers have played an important role in the successful recovery of Peregrine falcons in New Jersey. After a pair attempted to nest (and were unsuccessful) here in 2005, building managers took action to give these birds a second chance. Since windy conditions made nesting on the roof impossible, Union County staff, as directed by state wildlife zoologist Kathy Clark, installed a Dogloo, also referred to as a "Peregloo" to provide a more suitable nest site. After installing the Peregloo, the nesting pair was productive! Since then the site has been occupied by falcons. In 2016, there was a turnover at the nest and the female was replaced with a young adult. Then in 2019, the current female (who is unbanded), named "Frida" replaced the previous female.
Important update on the Courthouse Falcons!This brood of four female falcons were officially fledging age (that is, 6 weeks old) on June 9th. They disappeared on that date and haven't been on camera since then. But they didn't go far: for a couple of days, their heads and/or wings could be seen occasionally as they flapped on the ledge that is just one level below the gutter, where the cameras cannot view.This isn't unusual and happens every season. What's unusual, however, is they didn't just "pop" back up to nest level within days! Union County Parks staff went out to observe from the ground, and saw all four fledglings -- flying! As a group, they have been exploring other areas of the courthouse and nearby buildings. The adults bring food wherever the youngsters are, so all that action has been away from the usual nest-level roof. I know we're all anxious to see them and the fun flight-learning antics that come with new flyers. We hope they will find their way back to the highest point in the city and back on camera! -Kathy Clark/ENSP
Well, time flies and soon so will these young falcons! They're now exploring the entire roof of the Union County Courthouse. As you may notice if you tune in and don't see them on the main camera. Now they are more frequently observed on the Rooftop View camera, which is on the opposite side of the buidling. We added this stream to the page and replaced the inside view, which is obscured by fecal matter.. You can still find that view on our YouTube channel if you want to look at a blurry video feed. :)
Otherwise, young are now starting to "branch out" which is a term meant more for raptors who nest in trees, but it is where they start to explore more of their direct surrounding while strengthening their wing/flight muscles by flapping. They will do this more as their flight feathers come in more fully. When they reach 7 weeks old (another couple weeks) then they will start to fledge. It is important for us to have volunteers in place to help watch for young that wind up on the ground after fledging, so if there is anyone reading this who lives in or near Elizabeth and would like to volunteer, then please reach out!
Yesterday afternoon the four 3-4 week old eyases were banded for future tracking. Kathy Clark, Acting Chief of the NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Union County staff and a few guests ventured onto the roof of the Union County Courthouse, bagged young and brought them inside to stay cool and calm for banding. Everything that happened outside was streamed live.
All young were determined to be female, which is the same as last year! They were all banded with both federal and state auxiliary bands, which allow biolgists, photographers and birders to be able to identify them in the field (when alive). Their band are: BN/23, BN/24, BN/25 & BN/26. All were healthy with blood samples taken for lead analysis. Every day they are dropping more white downy plumage which is showing their brown body and flight feathers. Soon they will be venturing further and further from the nestbox as they start to strengthen their wing muscles for their first flight.
Thank you to all who support the UC Falcon Cam!
The four eyases are now approaching three weeks old and after they are 21 days old we will start to see more of their body and flight feathers come in. These brown juvenile feathers are what they will have for a couple years until their first molt. After that then they will have the typical gray feathers with a pale breast and belly with dark streaks. By four weeks, they will be around 75% of the size of an adult.
As you have seen via the live stream, they are still babies and eat and sleep a lot! They eat around half their body weight every day, which is a lot of prey that both adults need to forage for. We have seen them arrive (thanks to those who have posted snapshots of prey deliveries to our interaction page!) bring in blue jays, pigeons, and other unidentifiable prey.
I believe that Kathy Clark/NJDFW is tenatively planning to band the eyases here early next week. When we know the time, then we will share here and on the live stream to let everyone know. -Ben
There are now four healthy 3-5 day old hatchlings! The first hatched on April 27, second and third on April 28 and the fourth hatched on April 29. The adults have been doing an excellent job of keeping them warm and well fed. They will more than double their weight (from hatching) over the next few days. By the time they are 4 weeks old, they will be 3/4 of the size of an adult.
Tomorrow morning Kathy Clark, NJDEP Fish & Wildlife and Cathy Malok, The Raptor Trust will be visiting this eyrie to medicate all young for trichomoniasism, which is a pigeon borne disease that can be transferred to young falcons and be deadly. As we have already seen pigeon prey come into the nestbox, this treatment is crucial to the survival of this brood. The live stream will continue during this treatment, so be aware that the adults will be upset by their arrival on the rooftop. The young will be removed from the nestbox for treatment and then placed back shortly thereafter. The adults will return once all human disturbance has ended.
Yesterday a pip was visible in one egg. This is a hole which is made by the hatchling using its egg tooth. This is a sharp, tooth-like projection on its upper bill that allows it to break through the eggshell and breathe outside air. Once they do break through to form this pip then the hatchling can usually be heard, so having audio at an inside camera like we do here is really neat! The female will also chirp to encourage the hatchling to break through the eggshell completely. This process usually takes 24-48 hours and is a lot of work. Once the first hatchling emerges the adults will continue to incubate and brood the hatchling to keep it warm.
We're nearing the home stretch of incubation as day 21 just passed. Viewers have watched as the paid has exchanged incubation duties and "enfluffeled" the eggs (a term used to describe the rolling or shifting of eggs during incubation). Next week hatch watch begins!
Frida laid her fourth egg on Sunday evening! Now the pair will remain on their clutch of eggs for the next 28-30 days. This puts hatching to begin during the last week of April. While incubating their eggs, falcons will rest and sometimes have one eye open and one closed as pictured above. The female will do the majority of incubation but they will take turns incubating, so that Frida can stretch her wings and feed away from the nest.
Then there were three! This morning, at 9:28am Frida laid her third egg! You can watch her lay it by rewinding on the live stream (12 hours back) or in the clip above. Thanks to Union County staff for sharing this clip with us!
In other news, by popular demand Disqus is back! This is where viewers can interact with CWF Biologists and post snapshots. It has been a staple with this cam and we just needed some time to re-evaluate it. We realize that it is great way to engage with viewers and that it is much loved by UC Falcon Cam viewers from around the world. It's new home is on the Union County Falcon Cam Interaction page. We will add a link in the sidebar here shortly. We have had some technical difficulties with getting the third view online, so we appreciate your patience as we work to bring that camera view to the world wide interweb!
The female laid the second egg early this morning! The pair will continue to take shifts to partially incubate the eggs until they have a full clutch. At times the eggs will be left alone, so don't be alarmed by this. When adults exchange nest nest duties, the eggs are repositioned and rolled. Egg three will be laid in another day or two and then the forth early next week.
Under the cover of darkness this morning Frida laid the first egg! Last year she laid the first egg on March 18. We could tell that she was going to lay an egg soon since she has been spending more time in the nestbox both during the day and at night. She has also been spotted courting with her mate. Peregrines don't start incubating until they lay a full clutch, so don't be surprised if you see her off the egg. Once they do start to incubate, then they will be continually kept warm for around 30 days. Hatching should occur during the last week of April.
In other news, we started a new live stream on our YouTube channel for the view of inside the nestbox! This is much better than the previous live stream as it now allows viewers to scroll back 12 hours and for now, we have kept the live chat to engage with viewers. We can also do live streams to our Facebook page. We are working on getting the third view on YouTube as well.
Thank you to our partners at Union County for allowing us to stream their Falcon Cam!
Falcon Cam Education
CWF’s Soaring with STEM program educates children about New Jersey’s unique natural resources and the rare wildlife that shares our environment using the Union County Falcon Cam as the primary technological learning tool. Through interactive and engaging classroom and assembly presentations, our experienced educators bring wildlife into your school. Students are fascinated to discover that these raptors nest and raise young each year right in their own backyards! Teachers receive structured lessons and interactive activities to address the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 3-5. Learning about their wildlife neighbors helps children to connect to their community and teaches children to consider how their everyday actions impact the natural world around them. A special thanks to Phillips 66 for their sponsorship of the Union County Educational programs utilizing the Union County Falcon Cam.
Liz Silvernail, Executive Director: Email
Ben Wurst, Senior Wildlife Biologist: Email