BUFFALO, N.Y. Viewers who log onto the University at Buffalo's
falconcam to watch BB and Yankee, UB's resident peregrine falcon
mom and dad, will see more of the couple's falcon chicks once they
hatch and become mobile, thanks to the installation this spring of
a second camera. Watch the live streaming video from both cameras
The improved falcon viewing experience comes to falcon fans
courtesy of UB's facility and utility operations staff in
University Facilities and Enterprise Infrastructure Services staff
in UB's Computing and Information Technology who collaborated with
Digital Surveillance Solutions, Inc., the local company that
donated equipment for UB's falconcam.
The UB nesting box was installed by facilities staff working
with local officials from the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation and the Buffalo Audubon Society in 2009
near the top of the Mackay Heating Plant tower on the university's
South Campus. The university received permission from the state
Office of Historic Preservation to install the box since the tower
is a state historic landmark.
The camera's live, streaming video attracted on average
approximately 500 simultaneous connections to UB's falcon-cam
website last year.
Then, 10 ten days after the baby chicks had hatched, UB's
faculty-staff newspaper, the UB Reporter, began receiving anxious
email messages from interested falcon watchers who became concerned
when neither parents nor chicks were visible. They feared that the
chicks had fallen from the nest or that the parents had left the
chicks alone for too long.
But this is just as nature intended, according to the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation, with which UB
partners to ensure a safe habitat for the university's resident
falcon pair. The DEC said that at that age, the chicks no longer
need the parents to keep them warm and cool so the parents don't
need to stay so close; however, the chicks do need more food so the
parents spend more time out and about, searching for prey in order
to satisfy the chicks' growing appetites.
"Several birders who watched the site last year asked for a
different view so they could see what happens once the chicks start
to go mobile," says Mike Blumenson, president of Digital
Surveillance Solutions. "They also couldn't see BB or Yankee on
their perch, so we collaborated with UB's Computing and Information
Services and University Facilities to come up with a recommendation
for where to put the second camera."
Prior to this year's breeding season, the second camera was
installed by University Facilities staff. It provides a view of the
perch that extends out from the nesting box, 137 feet above the
residential street of Winspear Avenue, which borders the South
"This is a great thing for falcon watchers," says Chris
Hollister, UB associate librarian, arts and sciences, an avid
ornithologist and a past contributor to the DEC's Breeding Bird
He points out that the falcons are not only a New York State
endangered bird but also a federally endangered bird.
"People don't get to see peregrine falcons very often," he says,
noting that the second camera will let the viewing continue as the
chicks start to walk around and go out on the perch.
"They'll be moving around like any human child would," he says,
"most people would never be able to see that. It's really
delightful that now they can."
The addition of the second camera is likely to only intensify
the already high level of public interest in UB's falcons.
"We knew we were involved with something special when the eggs
hatched last year and a local TV station reported 4,000 hits in one
day for the UB falconcam," says Blumenson. "While we at DSS enjoy
the security work that we do, our involvement in the peregrine
project has been one of the most interesting and touching efforts
in our seven years of being in business. We are grateful to UB and
the DEC for allowing us to be involved and to help share in the
magic of BB and Yankee."
The birds do make a powerful impression, notes Gerry Rising,
SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of mathematics
education at UB and weekly "Nature Watch" columnist for the Buffalo
"Peregrine falcons have this dashing, spectacular flight," says
Rising. "It's a joy to see them. There's a sort of freedom about
them even when they're just standing. They're a big, handsome
Connie Adams, senior wildlife biologist for the DEC, agrees.
"When you see them fly, it makes you want to be a peregrine for a
day," she says. "They are king of the sky, they rule the sky and
they know it. There is nothing they're afraid of."
Adams notes that that lack of fear is due to the falcon's size
and incredible speed, they can fly at speeds up to 200-plus miles
And like any other species, she continues, the mother falcons
are highly protective, especially in mid-June, around the time when
the chicks start to fledge, or learn to fly. That's why UB
Facilities staff will be erecting a small, wooden shelter under
which observers can safely watch the falcons, even when the chicks
start learning to fly. The shelter will be installed about 20 feet
back from the sidewalk on Winspear Avenue.
As for the chicks that were born to BB in 2009 and 2010, Adams
explains that, unlike the parents, who likely have from 8-12 more
years of breeding at UB's nesting box, those chicks will not be
returning to campus.
Each year, toward late summer, she says, the parents start
making flights with the chicks to get them used to flying
"We think they fly with them around New York State, to ease the
chicks away from the area," she says, noting that the word
peregrine comes from a Latin word that means "to wander." "As a
falcon parent, you don't want your chicks around, there's always a
risk of in-breeding. You want to disperse your species, to increase
By late fall, the parents come back to their nesting site but
the chicks will fly along the Atlantic coast, she says, as far
south as Central America.
"Right now, the chicks are probably heading back north but they
won't come to UB, they'll go instead to Ohio, Pennsylvania, the
north shore of Lake Ontario, the Adirondacks, or even Toronto or
New York City," she says.
That contrasts with the parents who are expected to remain at
their UB nesting box for many years; they also don't leave in the
winter, Adams explains, most likely because of Western New York's
abundant waterfowl, which provides the bulk of the diet for
Classified as an endangered bird species in New York State,
peregrine falcons were completely eliminated from the Eastern
United States in the 1960s, mainly due to pesticide residues in
their bird prey. Thanks to efforts like the one at UB and others,
there are now 62 nesting pairs in New York State.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.