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The Falcon Cam: A bird’s eye view!

Welcome to the 2014 DNREC Peregrine Falcon Webcam – featuring resident peregrines Red Girl and her new mate, Trinity," as they go about raising their first brood together this spring in Delaware!

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Streaming video from the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building in downtown Wilmington, the Falcon Cam follows the flight and fate of this pair and their offspring.

Peregrine Falcons, once a federally endangered species, have been using a nest box, provided by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on the Brandywine Building since 1992. In the past decade, this site has been home to some of Delaware’s most successful falcons, often producing three or more eyasses (baby falcons) each year. The Falcon Cam comes to you through DNREC and project partners, the Delmarva Ornithological Society and DuPont’s Clear Into The Future Program with support from Citibank and others, projecting what's sure to be another exciting season in the skies of Wilmington.

2014 Milestones 

June 20 – The 2014 Falcon Cam season wraps up as a great success! Once again, the Wilmington Falcons have successfully raised a new generation of young ones. Cam watchers may occasionally see a falcon or two in the nest box, but it won’t happen often, as the fledglings are now flying very well and will be on their way to parts unknown in the next few months.  

June 10 – The Falcon Cam has been very quiet! The birds won’t return to the nest box very often, but can easily be seen in the skies around the Brandywine Building as Red Girl and Trinity help them develop the skills they need to hunt and survive in the wild, including some dramatic food drops and hand-offs.

May 26 – All four fledglings are faring well and flying better! A wayward Great Blue Heron entered the falcons’ territory and was quickly persuaded to leave. Although not a threat to the fledglings, Red Girl and Trinity take no chances and for fledge watchers, the aerial acrobatics of the heron were impressive as it tried to avoid the sharp talons of the peregrine parents. 

May 25 – Green Girl fledges at mid-morning! She makes her way across the street to the roof of an adjacent building where she remained for the rest of the day. 

May 24 – “Yellow Boy” fledges!  At this point, all three boys have left the box and are seen taking short flights from rooftop perches. As they do, “Green Girl” watches and continues to exercise her wings as she builds up the nerve for her first flight.

May 23 – “Red Boy” fledges and flies very well. Blue has also been seen taking short flights as he gets stronger.

May 22 – “Blue Boy” is the first chick to fledge! At first, he landed down on the busy streets, but thanks to volunteer fledge watchers, he was quickly scooped up and taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue for evaluation. With a clean bill of health, he was returned back to the top of the Brandywine Building for a second try.

May 9 – US Fish and Wildlife raptor biologist Craig Koppie affixes a colored identification band and a silver federal band to the legs of each falcon chick.  The silver band is covered with colored tape to help quickly identify each chick when they being to fledge.  At this time, Craig is able to determine the sex of each chick and this year we have three boys (blue, red, and yellow tape) and one girl (green tape).

May 1 – Red Girl and Trinity continue to be excellent providers for the four chicks in the nest box. All four appear to be very healthy and eating well. Now that they are getting larger, they are also becoming more mobile. Falcon Cam viewers may not always see them in the center of the box as they move towards the edges and remain huddled up. If you don’t see them right away, pay attention to the corners of the box or wait patiently until Red Girl or Trinity return bearing a snack!

April 26 – Chick No. 5 is evaluated by the expert staff at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, and diagnosed with metabolic bone disease. The little falcon's skeletal system is dramatically compromised and its survival doomed. Because Red Girl produced the unusually high number of six eggs this year, biologists suspect that her body had reduced levels of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for proper development of the embryo, leading to this fatal metabolic condition in chicks Nos. 5 and 6.

April 25 – Hopes were high that No. 5 would continue to improve and be returned to the nest box with its siblings. However, following a promising start, the chick’s condition begins to deteriorate. It continues to eat, but is having trouble filling its crop.  Unfortunately, when birds like peregrines lay more eggs than the typical clutch, one or more of the hatchlings are at a disadvantage in terms of development and nutrition.

April 20 – Similar to 2013 Falcon Cam circumstances over concern for the well-being of chicks Nos. 5 and 6, US Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Craig Koppie removes these two smallest chicks from the nest box at around 2 p.m. Both appeared to be lacking in vigor and, as a precaution, are closely monitored and carefully fed to increase their chances of survival. The fifth chick immediately starts to rebound and gain strength; the sixth and last-hatched chick cannot overcome its disadvantageous start and does not survive. During this time of hand-rearing for the fifth chick from the Red Girl-Trinity mating, Mr. Koppie will use techniques to prevent the chick from becoming acclimated to people, including playing recordings of adult peregrines and ensuring that he isn’t seen when tending to the chick.

April 19 – After all but giving up on the sixth egg's viability, it comes as a big surprise that it has hatched! However, the delayed hatching puts this last chick at a significant disadvantage when faced with competition from its five siblings. Being both least and last, odds are heavily against its survival.

April 16 – A fifth egg hatches overnight.  lthough there is a noticeable size difference between Nos. 1 and 2 and No. 5, the littlest one appeared to receive enough food from mom during feedings.

April 15 – Over night, two more eggs hatch bringing the chick total to four! With two eggs remaining, Red Girl and Trinity will be busy keeping these mouths full.

April 14 The first eggs hatch! Two chicks can be seen in the nest box when Red Girl isn’t busy trying to keep them warm by brooding them.  Brooding is similar to incubation when the adults cover the chicks with their bodies to help them regulate temperatures.

March 15 – To the amazement of Falcon Cam viewers, Red Girl lays a sixth egg sometime in the early morning! While Peregrines have been documented to lay up to seven eggs, anytime a pair produces more than five is a very rare mating event.

March 12 – Red Girl does not disappoint and lays a fifth egg at about 10:20 a.m. - quite a clutch for a Peregrine pair, particularly for their first mating. Full-time incubation has begun and, with some luck, we will see the first egg hatching in early April.

March 10 – Holding true to past seasons, Red Girl lays her fourth egg. Now we watch to see if full-time incubation begins or if a fifth egg has yet to appear.

March 08 – Sometime in the early morning, under the cover of darkness, a third egg is produced. Remember, it was this date in 2013 when the first egg was seen.

March 05 – Red Girl lays the second egg in midafternoon.

March 03 – The first egg appears in the nest box, five days earlier than the first egg in 2013! We can expect more eggs to be laid about every other day over the next week.

January and February – This season, the DNREC Falcon Cam welcomes Red Girl’s new mate Trinity. Under unknown circumstances, her former mate, CJ, disappeared last year and his fate remains unknown. However, in the world of Peregrine falcons, a new male quickly arrived on the scene and was accepted by Red Girl. Both resident adults, Red Girl and Trinity, are seen in the nest box making scrapes and courting. As March approached, activity in the box picked up as the pair prepared for their clutch of eggs for 2014.

 DuPont Clear Into the Future

Delmarva Ornithological Society

DNREC's Falcon Cam is made possible in conjunction with sponsors DuPont’s Clear into the Future program and the Delmarva Ornithological Society, among others.

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