HARRISBURG — The Department of Environmental Protection has begun its annual live, 24-hour webcast of a nesting pair of peregrine falcons living on a ledge on the Market Street side of the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg. Three cameras chronicle the falcons while streaming the footage live on the Internet to viewers around the world.
“Technology enables us to provide the world’s bird lovers with a front-row seat to watch the story of our falcon couple and offspring unfold before our eyes,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “This is a great show and more people are tuning in all the time.”
Follow the falcons by visiting www.dep.state.pa.us and clicking on the live stream button. There, fans can also sign up to receive the Falcon Wire electronic newsletter. Follow the falcons on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FalconChatter.
Already this year, the resident male, who has been at the site since 2005, has had to defend his territory from an ambitious adolescent tiercel. This development leaves the female falcon with two potential mates this season.
“The encouraging thing is that the female is here and healthy,” DEP Environmental Education director Jack Farster said. “My expectation is that the breeding season will be successful and the resident male will maintain his breeding dominance.”
Falcons have nested at the building for 12 years. To date, the nest has produced 53 eggs and 45 hatchlings. Of these, 29 falcons survived; 13 males and 16 females. The gender of one of the nestlings that hatched in 2008, the runt of the clutch, or set of offspring, could not be determined.
Last year, the female falcon laid a clutch of four eggs, and only one hatched. The first eggs of the 2012 breeding season will be laid in late March. The eggs should begin to hatch around mid-May and the young falcons, or “eyases,” will begin to take their first flights, or “fledge” in mid-June.
While their numbers are increasing, the Pennsylvania Game Commission still lists peregrine falcons as an endangered species. The bird’s population in Pennsylvania has increased since the early 1990s as a direct result of conservation efforts like this one. There are now 32 pairs of peregrine falcons nesting at various locations across the state, according to the Game Commission.
Nationally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird from its list of endangered and threatened species in 1999.