delware environmental institute

Delaware’s own wildlife reality show returns with the 2011 debut of live Falcon Cam

NEWS FROM THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
Contact: Joanna Wilson, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Delaware’s own wildlife reality show returns with the 2011 debut of live Falcon Cam

WILMINGTON (Feb. 3, 2011) – The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife today announced that the wildly popular Falcon Cam is back online for another season of real-life ornithological drama on the 19th floor of Wilmington’s Brandywine building. Sponsored by the DuPont Clear into the Future Program and the Delmarva Ornithological Society in partnership with the Buccini/Pollin Group, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, A Bright Idea, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and DNREC, the Falcon Cam made its debut in March 2010.

“That inaugural year taught us a great deal about the dynamics of these birds of prey living high above the busy streets of Delaware’s largest city,” said DNREC Wildlife Biologist Anthony Gonzon. To recap, Gonzon gave a synopsis of the Falcon Cam’s turbulent first season:
 
Early on, viewers learned that the resident female had been replaced by a new, younger female falcon that had been banded as a chick on the Rachael Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg, Pa. Soon after her arrival, the resident male, or tiercel, quickly began to court her. Eventually the pair produced three eggs. However, this did not occur without some new drama in the skies.
 
During the courtship period, many viewers watched as the pair bonded, performing bowing movements and food exchanges. Then, a new male arrived and a battle ensued. Cam watchers were glued to their screens as the two tiercels squared off inside the nesting box. The resident male emerged victorious, driving off the intruder.
 
Soon after, viewers were treated to the lady of the roost laying the first three eggs of her lifetime. Incubation followed, and cam fans watched as the expectant parents took turns sitting on the eggs. Viewers watched and waited, hoping to catch the first visible signs of hatching.

But all would not end well for the 2010 season. Before the predicted hatching date, the resident male disappeared, his whereabouts remaining unknown. With no help incubating the eggs and driven by the need to hunt for food for herself, the female began spending long periods off the nest. Viewers remained hopeful for a good outcome that would never come.
 
Eventually, U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Craig Koppie determined the eggs were no longer viable. To add more drama, a new male appeared, and cam viewers watched as the he and the female began courtship behavior. The new tiercel was soon identified by his leg bands. Amazingly, he was no stranger to this nest box – he was hatched in it!

As this new pair formed, Koppie removed the eggs in the hope that they would be able to produce a clutch of their own. Pair bonding and other courtship behavior was observed for several weeks, but alas, it was too late in the season to produce a second clutch. The Cam went dark on an empty nest box on Oct. 1, leaving biologists to evaluate what they had seen and fans eager for the 2011 season.
 
“All of these amazing details would have been lost if not for the Falcon Cam. Providing us with a view of the daily activities and behaviors of Wilmington’s Peregrines, the web cam has taught many people, from casual observers to scientists, a great deal about these falcons,” Gonzon said.

With a new Peregrine breeding season about to begin, Gonzon believes Falcon Cam fans will be treated to another year of high-flying drama streaming live on camera. He added a quick preview:
 
“During February, viewers can expect more frequent visits by the adult Peregrines to the nest box. More courtship and pair-bonding displays will be seen, eventually followed by egg-laying and incubation, with high hopes for a successful hatch,” Gonzon said. “We hope everyone will log on to watch Wilmington’s own Peregrines back in action.”
 
To view Wilmington’s Peregrine Falcons through the live Falcon Cam web feed, visit the DNREC website at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/Pages/Peregrine_Falcon_Cam.aspx.
 
Vol. 41, No. 42