As the courtship season begins for peregrine falcons,residents of all ages and visitors from all over the world can observe and study one of the fastest animals on earth by, tuning in to the Union County Falcon Cam.
“The Falcon Cam is a great opportunity for residents of all ages to experience and learn about peregrine falcons up close,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “This season we have a new female falcon, who has taken over the territory on the roof of the Union County Court House.”
The Falcon Cam chronicles the activity of multiple pairs of peregrine falcons throughout the years. The pairs have been nesting on the roof of the historic tower of the Union County Courthouse, located at 2 Broad Street in midtown Elizabeth.
The pair’s initial attempts at building a nest failed due to exposure to winds and weather conditions atop the 17-story structure. Under the guidance of biologists from the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, County personnel attached a small dome-like shelter to the roof.
The pair adopted it as their own, and they have raised a family within the shelter every year since 2006.
With an assist from Fish & Wildlife biologists, Union County staff installed cameras inside and outside of the nest. The new cameras provide schools, researchers and birding enthusiasts with new learning opportunities.
The Union County website provides a free livestream of the Falcon Cam at ucnj.org/falcon.
Falcons are fierce predators and they also compete with each other for prime nesting spots. The previous female occupying the nest was identified by her leg band, BA/91.
Earlier this year BA/91 was attacked and injured by an intruding, unbanded female. Alert county staff spotted the stricken BA/91 on the ground outside of the County Administration Building on Elizabethtown Plaza. They stood watch until the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation picked her up.
BA/19 sustained an injury to one of her wings. She was taken to Raptor Trust in Millington, where she is slowly recovering.
Meanwhile, the new female is making herself at home. The Falcon Cam has captured a series of bonding displays between her and her new mate, the resident male.
If the mating is successful, the female will lay up to four eggs this spring.
Peregrine falcons are one of the fastest animals in the world, reaching speeds of up to 220 miles per hour when diving for prey. Their main source of prey includes pigeons and other birds.
They build their nests in cliffs, ledges, and on tall buildings such as the Union County Court House, which happens to be the tallest building in Elizabeth.
Peregrine falcons usually mate and breed in the same territory each year. The male courts the female for about a month beginning around March using aerial displays.
Union County’s falcon preservation efforts have been undertaken with the generous assistance of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the nonprofit organization Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation is Union County’s official partner for educational programming related to falcons and the Falcon Cam.
For more details about the educational initiative, and for information on corporate sponsorships, call Conserve Wildlife Foundation at 609-984-6012 or use the contact form.
Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at ucnj.org/green-connection.
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Photo caption: Union County’s free Falcon Cam livestream captures the view inside the nest of two peregrine falcons, on the roof of the County Courthouse Tower in midtown Elizabeth. This screenshot shows bonding behavior as the newly installed female (left) and the male get acquainted and prepare to start a family.