ELIZABETH, NJ - Residents in Union County have been following the Peregrine Falcons that live on the top the Union County Courthouse for years via a Falcon Cam that was set for everyone to enjoy. The view was worth watching on Friday morning as experts went to the roof to band the new babies that are now 24 days old.
A group of NJDEP Wildlife Experts, County officials, and Staff along with TAPinto Elizabeth Publisher Kathy Lloyd were escorted up the tower by facilities staff to the room just below the roof, where the peregrine falcon family resides. After a brief introduction about the banding, NJDEP Wildlife Expert, Kathy Clark, and her assistant and a few others went up to the roof to carefully remove the chicks from the nest box.
The experts equipped with climbing gear and hard hats had to fend off the Mother and Father Birds who were swooping at them trying to protect their babies.
The falcon babies were put into cloth bags and slowly lowered down the stairs to the room below where they received a health check, sexed and banded. Participants took turns assisting by holding the chicks briefly while the experts took blood samples to test for lead, banded each bird and gave them some food with medicine. When finished, the chicks were taken back to the nest box.
Their igloo nest box was installed in 2006 when it was discovered that a pair of peregrine falcons had a failed nest. The bands on the adults revealed that the male was from Connecticut while the female was born in Jersey City.
The pair successfully raised young for several years afterward using the new nest box. At some point, the Connecticut male was replaced by an un-banded male who the experts believe is still with us today. He is likely around 12 years old or more.
In 2016 two cameras were installed atop the roof and in 2017, a third camera was installed. Viewers can see the breeding and nesting season up-close via Union County’s webcams which stream all year long at http://ucnj.org/falcon/.
The current adult female is also un-banded. She waged a battle for prime real estate and a mate last year and won. To help identify male vs female, they settled on naming the two this year, something scientists don’t usually like to do.
The male has very bright orangey talons (feet) and cere (upper bill) so they named him “Mango”. The female has a wide, white “uni-brow” above her cere so she was named “Freda” after the South American artist known for her uni-brow. The current male has had four mates thus far.
Freda laid four eggs this year and three of those eggs hatched and the three-week-old chicks are doing well so far the experts said.
“The Freeholder Board is very proud to partner with Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the New Jersey DEP in this effort to restore the peregrine falcon population in America, and to raise awareness about species conservation through the Falcon Cam Livestream,” said Union County Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “And the new falcon chicks are so cute! We hope to see them grow and thrive.”
Highlights of the officials and experts banding the birds can be viewed below.
Feeding time in the nest video, Courtesy of Union County.