Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rhodes Tower Modernization

As indicated in a previous post, live streaming of the peregrine falcon nest at the Rhodes State Office Tower via The Ohio Channel will end this month.  However, the Division of Wildlife remains committed to providing a view to the Columbus peregrines and is actively working to not only investigate a new streaming service, but also plans to incorporate camera upgrades prior to the 2018 nesting season.  But there is twist!  The Rhodes Tower is about to undergo an upgrade of its own!  
Plans are underway for a construction project that will help modernize the Rhodes Tower. The project will include increasing energy efficiency by adding insulation and new window systems as well as façade improvements.  A project like this is no small undertaking—building managers and planners have an enormous list of considerations to address.  One factor unique to this project is that building management is also considering the impacts to the peregrine falcons that have nested on the building since the early 1990s.  They enjoy hosting the peregrines but do recognize the work will impact the peregrines and so have involved the Division of Wildlife early on in planning for advice and direction on management of the falcons and the nest during the construction project.
Because of the nature and duration of the work to be done, the Division of Wildlife believes the most prudent thing to do is to provide for the peregrines at another site.  To accommodate construction and to encourage the peregrines to relocate, the current nestbox at the Rhodes Tower will be removed later this summer and other exclusion efforts on the building will be incorporated.  The Riffe Tower is another state-owned building and one that the peregrines already readily use.  Fans will recall this past fledging period, one of the young peregrines spent 2 days on a window ledge at the Riffe.  An alternate nestbox already exists on that building and Division of Wildlife biologists will be working with building management to refine the nesting accommodations to make the Riffe as attractive to the peregrines as possible.  If all goes well, the peregrines will relocate to the Riffe and have a safe and secure nesting site to use while the Rhodes State Office Tower Modernization Project progresses.  The possibility does exist of course, that the peregrines will choose to nest elsewhere downtown so we will be monitoring their whereabouts and behaviors between this fall and next nesting season. 
While we work on nestbox accommodations, we are also working with building management at the Riffe to develop a camera system with the goal of live streaming on our website as we have done in the past with the nest at the Rhodes Tower.  This combined approach addressing the nestbox and cameras is a reasonable plan with cooperation between multiple agencies and organizations.  Our hope is that the peregrines also are cooperative in this endeavor and there is minimal interruption in Columbus peregrine falcon viewing opportunities. 
We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.  For the immediate future, expect some downtime after the live streaming is discontinued later this month.  Even without video, we’ll be working behind the scenes to ensure a responsible approach to all aspects of this project in relation to the peregrines and the viewing public.  Stay tuned as this project evolves.  Columbus peregrine fans are the best and the ODNR, Division of Wildlife appreciates their dedication!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

News! News! News!

Great news - there have been 2 recent visits to the nest ledge by juveniles!  The first juvie was observed on July 5th about 6:20 pm:
The second visit was yesterday about 3 p.m.  Durand was near the nestbox and the juvenile landed on the ledge.  Although you can't see the falcon very clearly, the plumage of the bird closest to the camera is brown, indicating it is a young bird.  The falcon furthest away has a light underside which makes it an adult:
From his office window, Mike Horn also saw and photographed this juvenile on the LeVeque Tower on 7/9/17:
Such great news to finally start seeing the young and to know that they are doing well!
On another very positive note, long time viewers may recall that one of the chicks in the 2000 Columbus nest was named Hunter.  Hunter was identified via his leg band in 2002 in Toronto, Ontario:
He paired with a female there and for over 10 years they attempted to nest at several locations but were unsuccessful each year.  That long-time resident female was lost from the territory in 2013, and in 2014 a new female claimed the territory and paired with Hunter.  We recently received confirmation that finally this season, at 17 years old, Hunter has raised his first successful brood!!!  He and his mate fledged 3 young this year at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada!!  How exciting to learn of this success story!
As with most birds, there is a high mortality in their first year, however, if a peregrine survives beyond year 1, they can live 12-18 years in the wild.  Here is a photo of Hunter this year (thanks to the Canadian Peregrine Foundation for this update and pic):

Monday, July 03, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

As is the norm, now that nesting season is over the adult peregrines will undergo their molt.  I was reminded of this when I noticed this feather in the nestbox today:
We are accustomed to seeing feathers from prey species in the nest but this feather is definitely an adult peregrine feather, likely one of the wing, i.e., flight feathers.  The adults lose individual feathers in a specific pattern as the new feathers grow in.  This slow and specific process ensures the bird does not lose its ability to fly.  In comparison, adult Canada geese are also molting at this time of the year, however, they shed all of their flight feathers at about the same time which renders them flightless for about 2 weeks until the new feathers grow in. In this case the geese usually choose to undergo their molt near a body of water so they have a way to escape predators.

There have been some questions about how long the live streaming video will continue into July.  At this point we'll continue at least until mid-July.   Additional updates will be given as information becomes available.

Columbus' annual Red, White & Boom celebration is tonight.  I'm often asked how a fireworks display will affect the peregrines.  From their standpoint, it won't be much different than a thunderstorm.  They will no doubt watch the display from a safe perch.  I'm sure there are a lot of folks attending the celebration who would love to have a peregrine's eye view of the show.  Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Live Streaming Video Announcement

Everything seems to be going quite well this season with the fledglings.  This is the first year in recent memory that we didn't have to go on at least one rescue.  No news is good news and we assume all the fledglings are well on their way to perfecting their skills of flying, steering, landing, and hunting on their own.

The juvenile falcons will remain in and around the downtown area over the next several weeks but by the end of summer they will migrate out of the area to hopefully survive and establish a breeding territory of their own elsewhere.  Rarely do they return to the area where they fledged from.  Falcons hatched in Columbus over the years have been seen and/or successfully nested in Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, elsewhere in Ohio, Texas, and Canada.

Although there have been no sightings of the juveniles at the nest ledge this year, the adults have been checking in fairly frequently:
Their visits back to the ledge and the nest box are reinforcement of their bond to the site.  We can even expect them to work on the scrape in the gravel. Though the nest is now empty, the adults will continue to interact with the young elsewhere in the downtown area.

Cam Update:  For the past several years our live streaming video has been provided by The Ohio Channel.  Unfortunately, that partnership will be ending in July.  We greatly appreciate The Ohio Channel graciously hosting the video window to the Columbus peregrine falcon nest for so long.  As they say, when one door closes, another opens so we plan to use this opportunity to explore new camera options for future nesting seasons.

More updates on the fledglings and cameras as information becomes available!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Clean, Clear View Again

With a quick visit to the Rhodes Tower, we were able to get the nestbox camera up and running today. I also to this opportunity to clean off a VERY filthy camera window. Now, we have a clear view of the nestbox if any of the young decide to visit.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Riffe Tower Visitors

The Riffe Tower seems to be popular with the fledglings this year.  Besides the one photographed on the windowsill Thursday, the other 3 were also reported to be seen on the building earlier that same day. I do have a good outcome to report about the "celebrity" falcon-- it flew off fine Friday about 1:15 pm.  Here is a note from Cecilia about the event and a photo of the adult they saw:
I am so mad I missed the moment when he took off, I had been checking on him throughout the morning. Earlier, I  saw him running from one end of the ledge to the other and moving his wings as if he exercising them and also, flexing his legs. He looked great, today.  I am sure the visit from his parents gave him courage. As soon as he flew away, a co-worker and I, rushed down to the street level to check if he had fallen to the ground and fortunately, he was not there. He was gone!
Thank you so much for sharing so much about falcons and their behavior. I learned a lot. This baby falcon revolutionized the entire staff on the 26th floor of the Riffe Tower. He brought a smile to all of us. 
I'm certainly glad for the falcon, of course, but I'm also glad for the interest of everyone on that floor, too!  I'm honored to have a positive influence and I enjoy the enthusiasm the peregrine project brings.

So, it seems that all 4 fledglings have been seen doing well, and that is great news!  Let's hope they all continue to be successful as they hone their skills.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fledgling Update

At least one--if not two--fledglings are still being seen on the Huntington Building.  This morning Cecilia and Linda who work in the Riffe Tower called and sent me a photo of a fledgling outside their window:
They were concerned since the wing was drooping that the falcon was injured. However, it could just be the falcon had a rough flight and/or landing and was fatigued.  The bird stayed on the window ledge at least until late afternoon. They also reported the adults doing fly-bys and vocalizations between the adults and the juvenile. All normal behaviors! Hopefully, this falcon got some good rest today and will fly well on its next attempt!

Meanwhile, another call this afternoon came from COSI which is right across the river from the Riffe.  A worker reported seeing 2 peregrine falcons attacking a red-tailed hawk resulting in it being grounded!  The hawk eventually flew away--we surmise that it must have gotten too close for the comfort of the adult falcons so they gave it a strong message to keep away.  This may be that hawk:
It definitely looks like it had a rough go of it!