Anyone with access to a computer, tablet or smartphone and an internet connection can eavesdrop into the secret lives of the fastest creatures on Earth, thanks to the Falcon Watch partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Ameren Missouri and the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS).
Access the Falcon Watch live stream HERE.
Read more from the MDC release below.
The Falcon Watch program is a partnership that began in 2012 when a peregrine falcon nest box was placed at the Ameren Sioux Power Center in St. Charles County along the Missouri River. A webcam was installed to allow for monitoring the nesting activity and is accessible for public viewing during daylight hours at https://goo.gl/S3PUVr.
Each year, there has been nesting activity and chicks that have hatched. They have all been banded by WBS staff to help monitor them in the future. A total of 18 chicks have fledged from the nest box since the project began in 2012.
Nesting has been successful once again this year, making it the fifth year in a row the box has been used by a nesting pair of peregrines. A total of five eggs have been laid.
“It’s very rare for a peregrine pair to have six eggs, so our female probably has her full clutch now,” said Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director of WBS.
The five eggs were laid between March 14 and March 27. The mother does not start incubating the eggs until all are laid. This, Meshach explains, is nature’s way of ensuring a fair chance of survival for all of the chicks. Otherwise, the eggs laid earlier would hatch sooner, giving those chicks a head start on growth and a big advantage over their later-hatched siblings.
2017 is the second year this mother peregrine has used the nest. She was originally banded as a chick in 2006 in Minnesota. The male is new this year, and hails from southern Missouri where he was banded and released as a fledgling in 2004.
What can webcam viewers expect to see in the next few weeks?
“She will spend upwards of 23 out of every 24 hours incubating the clutch,” Mesach said. Incubation lasts about 30 days. Once the chicks hatch, they will fledge after 5-6 weeks. According to Mesach, during incubation the male will fly into the box with food for the female two to three times a day, and she will fly off to a perch close by to dine. He will also take some turns incubating the eggs himself so the female can have a chance to preen and feed. When the chicks hatch, the male will bring food for the chicks as well.
Peregrine falcons are considered the fastest animals in the world. The birds have been clocked while diving at 261 mph and it’s estimated their top speeds to be over 280 mph. They are native to the state and commonly live in open country, nesting in cliffs and rocky outcrops. They mostly prey on other birds for food.
Due to effects from pesticide use, the species was brought dangerously close to extinction by the 1970s. They were brought back due largely to captive-breeding programs. WBS re-introduced over 80 birds in the 1980s and 1990s to the St. Louis area. Peregrines take well to urban environments, with an ample supply of pigeons for food and concrete ledges and brick buildings that simulate their natural rocky nesting sites.
To discover more about peregrine falcons, visit https://goo.gl/38zRaj.