Watch Live Peregrine Falcon Cam Nest Box!
In partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation and Ameren Missouri, the World Bird Sanctuary is pleased to be able to bring you a live video camera on a Peregrine Falcon nest box. Watch a pair of peregrine falcons as they nest and hatch their chicks with our live video feed. During our Falcon Season, the video runs from 7am – 8pm (central time) each day.
Have a Question About Peregrine Falcons? Ask Jeff!
Every May and June Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director, bands the Peregrine babies in at least 7 of the 9 known nests in the St. Louis area. Jeff considers his banding efforts to be one of the greatest privileges in the world. “Getting to put my hands on the fastest animal in the world, even for just a few minutes, is an unforgettable experience.”
April 12, 2019
As with every year we’ve had the privilege of watching the Ameren Missouri’s Portage de Sioux Energy Center Peregrine pair (we’re into our 8th year in a row), we are now into the incubation period by about 14 days. I’ll admit there’s not too much to see as the female provides the warmth that allows the eggs to develop into chicks. I’ll use the example of raking leaves. Yes, not the most stimulating of jobs, but when you are done, take a step back and look at your yard, you almost always say, “Wow, that looks nice!” I know we will all be elated when in 2 and a half weeks or so our female gets up from her scrape and shows us her beautiful chicks.
Earlier this week I was watching in the 3 o’clock hour and got to see some hilarious footage (the footage I speak of is on the web site). When I turned on the feed, I could tell the male was on the nest. A couple of times a day the female takes a break, and the male flies in and assumes incubation duties for sometimes as long as an hour. I could tell the bird I was looking at was the male because he’s considerably smaller than her, and just doesn’t take up that much space in the nest box.
For those that don’t already know, there are 5 eggs. When the female incubates, she has no problem covering all 5 with her bigger body, and seems to be comfortable enough to even doze off as she sits. Not so with the male. With the smaller body, I had to laugh out loud as he got up, changed angle, settled back down, then got up again, changed angle, settled down, then got up…you get the picture. He had to use his wings to help keep the eggs underneath him. Several times he also gently used his beak to push an egg back under his breast. It was so obvious he was not comfortable with all the “lumps.” After 10 minutes of this, I saw that he was looking up at something, and even slowly turned his head to follow the progress of the invisible-to-me entity. Of course it was the female, probably soaring on a thermal, enjoying the last minutes of her break. The male gently got off the eggs, stretched his sleek wings above his body, hopped to the perching in front of the box, then jumped into the blue. About 1 minute later, mom landed on the same perching, stepped into the box, balled up her feet and settled on the eggs.
There’s a theory that a female raptor’s body is larger than the males so she can more easily keep the eggs, and then young chicks warm. From what I observed, I’m in 100% agreement with this theory.
There were a few questions this time! Thanks to those of you who took me up on the challenge from the last ASK JEFF. First question is how high off the ground is the nest box? It’s 167 feet from the ground. I do not have to climb all that way. Most of that distance is covered by an elevator ride. The last 30 feet are ladders.
Second question is what happens to a chick or chicks that die as youngsters? Are they consumed by the parents or other chicks? With Peregrines it would be quite rare for a dead chick to be eaten by its nest mates or a parent. The parents are great food providers and would have had to fall on hard, prey catching times for this to happen. One of the theories on why any mated pair of birds settles on a territory is food abundance.
Last question is would I intervene and remove a weak chick to correct the health issue and then get it back to the nest? I would not, with the main reason being the disturbance I would have to create to climb to the nest to remove the chick, then have to climb to it again to put the chick back in. Climbing to the nest creates stress on especially the parents, so I make sure I go to the nest only once to place the bands on the chicks and draw a small sample of blood to make sure there are no human made toxins within. The scientific knowledge we gain from placing bands on the chicks and knowing what is and isn’t in their blood is the only instance worth placing stress on the parents. When I climb I make sure all my actions, and the actions of those around me are efficient, so the chicks are removed from the nest as little time as possible.
Great questions, folks! Keep them coming. Talk to you next week.
Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director