This is the time of the year when one should wipe off the dust on your bookmarks and take a look at the spring action on the peregrine falcon and bald eagle webcams that have become so popular.
The North American Bear Center in Ely also has some active webcams and some great archived video of Lilly the black bear.
From a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) press release, we read that the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program has placed a live webcam in a peregrine falcon box in downtown St. Paul to monitor the nest of a pair of peregrine falcons.
The webcam can be viewed at www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/peregrine.html.
“We are very excited to be able to provide this webcam,” said Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the Nongame Wildlife Program.
“It allows the public a close-up view into the life of these incredible birds.”
The project is being done in cooperation from the Midwest Peregrine Society, and the business tenants in Town Square and Sentinel Properties.
On March 27, the pair laid their first egg, Henderson said.
The female will lay up to four more eggs over the next few days.
The eggs should hatch on about April 28 and the young will stay in the box, dependent on their parents, until late June or early July.
The box the birds are in is about four feet by four feet in size and is located 26 stories high.
Peregrines do not “build” a nest, so pebbles are placed in the box to create a natural habitat.
The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world, stooping (chasing prey) at speeds in excess of 200 miles-per-hour.
They are a little larger than crow-sized, about one-two pounds.
The females are one-third larger than the males.
They are mostly a slate blue color as adults, with a distinctive “hooded” appearance with a stripe that comes down from the cap.
Young peregrines are brown in color with many stripes or barring on the chest.
DDT and related chemicals had a devastating effect on peregrine falcons and many other species in the 1950s and 60s. DDT and its residues, accumulated through food chains, impaired reproduction of many birds by causing the bird’s eggs to become so thin that they were crushed under the weight of the mother incubating them.
Chemicals extirpated some populations and raised the threat of the species extinction.
Use of DDT was effectively banned in the United States in 1972 making it possible for peregrine recovery work to begin.
In 1984, the peregrine falcon was placed on the endangered species list.
“This is truly a story of success because today, we have more than 60 unique territories in Minnesota and 39 pairs successfully raised 119 chicks,” said Henderson.
Donations to the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, which can help provide additional cameras and learning experiences, can be made online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.
More information about peregrine falcons in Minnesota is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/peregrine.html.
More information about the Midwest Peregrine Society is available at www.midwestperegrine.org/donate/.
Xcel Energy has three peregrine falcon cams at these locations: Allen S. King Plant, Oak Park Heights; Black Dog Plant, Burnsville and Sherburne County (Sherco) Plant, Becker, in late March through May.
Find links to these falcon cams at http://birdcam.xcelenergy.com/falcon.html
The nest boxes at these sites are installed 300 – 600 feet above the ground to imitate the same features of high cliffs.
Falcons perch where they have excellent views of the skies, so they can spot and “skydive” for prey.
Streaming videos and pictures are provided from the King Plant and Sherco nest boxes.
The Black Dog falcon cam provides updated photos.
A Decorah, Iowa, bald eagle cam was one of the most viewed bird cams featured last spring and it is again at the top for bird viewers.
Many other links are also available to view the eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa. YouTube is one of the options.
I chose the sportsman’sparadiseonline.com website to view the eagles nest.
A nesting pair have been sitting on three eggs.
The 2012 timeline: first egg laid Feb. 17, second Feb. 20 and third on Feb. 24.
The first egg hatched March 27, and the second on March 28.
Click on FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and learn that the bald eagle is described as follows:
Length: 28 – 38 in. (71-96cm)
Weight: 6 1/2 – 14 lbs (3.0-6.5kg)
Migration: Partial migrant
Habitat: Near water, including rivers, lakes and coastal locations up to an altitude of 6,500 ft.
Once a plentiful species, the Bald Eagle was selected as the national bird of the United States in 1782, however, the population of this magnificent bird dropped drastically in the 20th century due to the use of pesticides, overhunting and pollution of rivers.
However, a successful recovery plan was created, and it is currently proposed for removal from the endangered species list.
The Bald Eagle is really not bald like it’s name portrays but gets that title because it’s head is covered with white feathers which gives the impression of baldness when compared to it’s dark feathered body.
It’s estimated that over 6,000 mating pairs breed in the lower 48 states and far more than that in Canada and Alaska.
The adult Bald Eagle is unmistakable due to the prominent white head, yellow eyes, bill and feet which contrast the dark brown of its wings and back.
The juvenile’s plumage is not as recognizable as adults and some times can be mistaken as a Golden Eagle.
The juvenile will develop into its full adult plumage at four years of age.
Bald eagle eggs are about the size of a tennis ball, but oval shaped like an egg normally is of course.
A bald eagle egg weighs 120-130 grams.
In comparison, a large chicken egg weighs about 50 grams. (28 grams = one ounce).
Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.