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'Falcon-cam' captures life in UB nest

Campus Web cam provides birdseye view that Buffalo lost when downtown camera went dark

Release Date: April 9, 2010

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This UB South Campus resident keeps a watchful eye over the nesting box in the Mackay tower that was custom-designed by UB facilities staff.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new University at Buffalo Web camera is capturing life in a peregrine falcon nest on the UB South Campus in Buffalo, where, for the second consecutive year, a female has laid her eggs.

Anyone with access to the Web can watch those eggs hatch at http://www.buffalo.edu/webcam/falconcam.html

on a live feed that refreshes every 10 seconds -- and if all goes well, the chicks grow and mature in the nest.

The UB "falcon-cam" is particularly important, members of the local bird-watching community say, because the Audubon Society camera that had been installed in the Statler Tower's falcon nest went dark last month when that historic building was mothballed.

Staff members from UB Facilities, with assistance from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Buffalo Audubon Society, installed the Web cam in the UB nest last month.

The nest was custom-made and installed by UB Facilities staff last year in the tower of the campus's historic Mackay Heating Plant.

Local birdwatchers are certain that the female peregrine at UB is BB, the same female who laid eggs in the MacKay tower nest last spring. But Smokey, last year's male, has been replaced by Yankee, a bird from the Niagara Gorge nest.

Al Gilewicz, UB's assistant director of utility operations, says Smokey did return to the UB nest briefly and fought with BB and Yankee -- with the altercation captured by the camera. Smokey was driven off, but not before one of the three eggs in the nest was broken. A short time later, though, the camera documented that BB laid another egg, bringing the total back to three.

Gilewicz praised the work of UB Information Technology staff, in particular Jeff Klein and Joe Mantione, in getting the Web cam to operate.

"The technical people really made it come alive," he adds.

Last spring, UB Facilities staff, working with local officials from the DEC and the Buffalo Audubon Society, built the nesting box and received permission from the state Office of Historic Preservation to install the box near the top of the tower: the MacKay tower is a state historic landmark.

Four chicks were hatched last May. DEC biologists banded them in order to identify and monitor them for the rest of their lives. While biologists say chicks are unlikely to return once they leave their nest, their parents frequently return to the same nest to raise another brood.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
Senior Editor, Medicine
Tel: 716-645-4605
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
Twitter: @egoldbaum