This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

‘Falcon Cam’ captures life in UB nest

Falcons again have laid eggs in the nesting box in in the tower of Mackay Heating Plant. Photo: UB Facilities

  • Multimedia

    UB Facilities staff install the Falcon Cam under the watchful eye of one of the residents. Watch a live feed of life in UB’s peregrine falcon nest.

Published: April 7, 2010

For the second consecutive year, a female peregrine falcon has laid eggs in a nesting box in the tower of Mackay Heating Plant on the east side of the South Campus.

And this year, anyone with access to the Web can watch those eggs hatch on a live feed that refreshes every 10 seconds—and if all goes well, the chicks grow and mature in the nest.

Staff members from UB Facilities, with assistance from and in consultation with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Buffalo Audubon Society, installed a new webcam in the nest the week of March 22—while the rare birds were present but before the breeding season began, says Al Gilewicz, assistant director, Utility Operations.

The UB “Falcon Cam” is particularly important, members of the local bird-watching community say, because the Audubon society camera that had been observing the peregrine falcons in residence in the Statler Tower in downtown Buffalo went dark when the building was mothballed.

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 But Smokey, last year’s male, has been replaced by Yankee, a bird from the Niagara Gorge nest.

Gilewicz says Smokey did return to the UB nest recently 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 praises the work of UB IT staff, in particular Jeff Klein and Joe Mantione, in getting the webcam 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—the Mackay tower is a state historic landmark—to install the box near the top of the tower.

Four chicks were hatched in May and biologists from the DEC 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.

Reader Comments

Brandi Waters says:

To educate with awe-inspiring entertainment is such a wonderful capability of multimedia. Imagine how much more we could do to reconnect the public with our "living" world if we used this technology more, especially in our children's classrooms!

Posted by Brandi Waters, Senior Bioinformatics Major-UB, 05/19/10

Carol Altman says:

I was lucky enough to see the baby that hatched. Truly amazing!

Posted by Carol Altman, Center for Hearing and Deafness, 05/04/10

Michelle O'Dierno says:

When can we expect to see the birds begin to hatch?

Posted by Michelle O'Dierno, Staff, 04/19/10

Abraham C.LMunson-Ellis says:

The camera is a awesome idea, as a device that records images, either as a still photograph or as moving images known as videos or movies. The term comes from the camera obscura (Latin for "dark chamber"), an early mechanism of projecting images where an entire room functioned as a real-time imaging system; the modern camera evolved from the camera obscura.

Cameras may work with the light of the visible spectrum or with other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A camera generally consists of an enclosed hollow with an opening (aperture) at one end for light to enter, and a recording or viewing surface for capturing the light at the other end.

This falcon cam should have been used to identify the "Lockwood Library Gunman". -posted with appreciation for falcon's well being-

Posted by Abraham C.LMunson-Ellis, Director of Circulation, Spring 2010 Generation Magazine, 04/13/10

Maryanne Burgos says:

What a beautiful falcon! She looks young. I hope there will be a follow-up article when the chicks are hatched.

Posted by Maryanne Burgos, Adjunct lecturer, 04/12/10

Sofia Tangalos says:

Wonderful - would be great if a Web cam could be installed for LIVE viewing!

Posted by Sofia Tangalos, MCEER Information Service, 04/08/10