GORHAM, Maine — Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) confirmed today that the Peregrine falcons monitored by its webcam are incubating two eggs. Confirmation was made on the morning of Saturday, March 16, and additional eggs are expected in the coming days.
Visitors to BRI’s website, www.briloon.org/oae/webcams/peregrinecam, can watch the daily nesting activities of this pair of falcons in a 24-hour live feed that is offered to the public free of charge in partnership with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), the Maine Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The chance to watch the nesting activities of Peregrine falcons is a great opportunity to learn about the behavior of this species,” says Patrick Keenan, BRI’s outreach director and coordinator of the webcam program. “We can expect additional eggs over the coming days and then expect eggs to hatch in about 34 days.” This is the fifth consecutive year of Peregrine falcons nesting at this site with nesting activities documented by BRI’s webcam. BRI created and manages an online community (www.briloon.ning.com) where members can discuss observations, ask questions, and post photographs.
Although the camera does not provide audio, it does offer a close-up perspective of the scrape. The falcon does not actually build a nest, but rather digs a depression in the gravel found on a high ledge, usually a cliff. These birds have adapted to human development by taking advantage of tall man-made structures such as skyscrapers, water towers, or bridges for nesting spots.
“The Peregrine falcon is the poster child for raptor conservation,” says wildlife research biologist Christopher DeSorbo, director of BRI’s raptor program. Peregrine populations nationwide plummeted due to environmental contaminants like DDT. Through the banning of DDT and reintroduction efforts, these birds are again breeding throughout the New England region. “Peregrines helped us detect a crisis that had serious implications on both wildlife and human health. This is one of the reasons it is important to monitor raptor populations. Because they sit at the top of the food web, raptors serve as key indicators that can be used to detect environmental and ecological imbalance.”
The federal government removed the Peregrine Falcon from its endangered species list in 1999. Although this species has successfully responded to national conservation efforts, Peregrine falcons remain on Maine’s endangered species list; there are only 24 known pairs of Peregrine Falcons in the state, according to the MDIFW.
Peregrine falcons, known for their aerial acrobatics, are the fastest flying birds in the world; they can dive and catch prey in midair at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The male, who prepares the nest for roosting, also courts its mate with elaborate aerial displays around the nesting site. These falcons breed in the same territory each year. An average clutch of four eggs is laid in early spring, hatching about a month later. Peregrines have been known to live up to 20 years.
BRI’s webcam program began in 2003 as a research tool to monitor the nest of the Common Loon, which at the time was one of the primary bird species being studied at the Institute. Since then, BRI has installed additional webcams to monitor the nesting activities of ospreys, eagles, and falcons.
Biodiversity Research Institute is a non-profit ecological research group dedicated to progressive environmental study and education that furthers global sustainability and conservation policies. BRI’s mission is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. BRI’s science programs include wetlands, mammal, raptor, waterfowl, migratory bird, marine bird, coastal bird, wildlife and renewable energy, and tropical programs; the Institute’s research efforts stretch throughout most of North and Central America, as well as across sites in South America, Russia, South Africa, and Europe. For more information visit www.briloon.org.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (www.maine.gov/ifw) is a state agency that oversees the conservation and responsible use of Maine’s natural resources. For more than three decades, the MDIFW has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (www.fws.gov) in peregrine falcon recovery efforts.