Love is in the air in Harrisburg as the city’s famous pair of peregrine falcons have returned to their nest on the 15th floor ledge of the Rachel Carson State Office Building just in time for Valentine’s Day. To celebrate, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today launched a redesigned falcon website that features a high definition, three-camera live video feed of the nest that will now be streamed year-round. The site also provides more opportunities for people to interact through social media.
Valentine’s Day is typically the time when the falcons renew their courtship behavior. The male will offer food to the female and put on a spectacular display of flight and hunting skills, all to impress her and prove his ability to be a good provider. There also is some vocal interaction at the nest.
“Providing a live feed of the peregrine falcons has helped to teach a generation of Pennsylvania school students and the public about the connection between wildlife and our environment,” DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “It underscores the effects we humans have on the natural world and how we can all be better stewards.”
The redesigned falcon website includes new interactive features like Instagram and Flickr where users can upload their own wildlife photos and even retweet a falcon valentine on Twitter. Visitors can learn about the falcons’ history in Harrisburg, view a calendar of seasonal activity and link to other bird cams from around the state. The live video will now be streamed year-round instead of ending in June. Favorite website features like information and lesson plans for teachers and the Falcon Wire are still available.
The 13-year old male falcon has occupied the nest site at the Rachel Carson State Office Building for the past 11 years. This is considered old for a wild peregrine, so at some point, a new male may challenge him for the nest site. The seven-year-old female is entering her fourth year at this nest site.
If their courtship is successful, the first of several eggs should arrive around mid-March. The first egg of 2015 arrived March 16. Since 2000, 58 of the 69 eggs produced at the nest have hatched. Thirty-four were females, and 23 males (in 2008, the sex of one of the young falcons could not be determined). The eggs typically hatch in mid-May and the young falcons take their first flights in June.
“This nest site in Harrisburg is one of the most productive ones in the state and its success is due in large part to our online community” Quigley said. “We thank our wonderful volunteers who look out for the young falcons when they’re learning to fly, and our online viewers around the globe who keep tabs on their every move!”
To view the new website and video feed, visit DEP’s website at www.dep.pa.gov/falcon.