Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ledgecam stills back up & German Falconcam

Good news: for now the ledgecam still photos are once again available. However, there are still bugs in the system that could interrupt service. We continue to work on an overall fix.

Other news: I'd like to share a link to a German falcon website with a connection to Columbus:
This site is in German, however it can be translated using another site. Simply copy the web address into the appropriate block at:

Several years ago, because of the influence of an Ohio friend, Hans-Martin Gang, a peregrine falcon enthusiast in Germany watched the Columbus Falconcam with great interest. Having worked many years with cliff-nesting peregrines, Hans-Martin wanted to focus on city-dwelling falcons and install a peregrine nesting box on top of the historic Holy Spirit Church in Heidelberg. Through his Ohio friend he made contact with me, asking for details on the design of our Columbus peregrine nesting box. I was pleased to provide technical advice to assist with his endeavor.

The connection to Columbus continues. After Hans-Martin installed his falcon nest box, it wasn't long until peregrines moved in. The adult female in Heidelberg was named "Aurora" after Columbus' 1st nesting female! Now, several years later, the Holy Spirit Church has successfully raised several broods of peregrines and this year they again have a webcam. Check out their website, including the "Questions & Answers" section where they explain the reason of naming their adult female "Aurora."

Hans-Martin and I have developed a friendship and continue to "compare notes" each year on the success of our nesting falcons!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Website update and final outcome for Velocity

First the bad news: extensive problems with our server are still causing both the still photos and the live, streaming video to be down. We hope to restore the site this week, but next week may be more likely. Either way we will still have to deal with inconsistent service until we work out all of the bugs. We are very sorry for the inconvenience. Hopefully, the troubleshooting and delays that are necessary now will help things run more smoothly and lessen system troubles during actual nesting. Thanks to every fan for your patience!

Now the other news: remember Velocity, one of the four fledglings from the 2006 nest in Columbus? Velocity crashed into a window on one of her first flights. Eventually she ended up on the ground and was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility where she was given a clean bill of health--other than missing key equipment: the collision with the window had caused most of her tail and several primaries to fall out. Without these important feathers we knew she would have trouble navigating the skies which would seriously hamper her progress in learning to fly, maneauver and catch prey. Other than missing feathers everything else seemed in order so it was decided she spend some time with an experienced falconer who would be able to teach her to hunt. This was a long process that started first with letting her sit tight until the feathers grew back in.

Fast forward to the fall of 2007 after her feathers were replaced by molt. The method of training the falconer used involves sending bait up in the air on a kite and releasing the bird to fly to the bait. Eventually, Velocity was able to gain altitude to about 75 feet with no problem. However, when the bait was raised higher she seemed reluctant to fly the distance to the bait, simply giving up and coming back down to perch on the ground. Several different approaches were attempted over many weeks of training but she simply lacked stamina. Finally, it was deemed that this bird just did not have what it would take to survive in the wild. This wasn't the outcome we had hoped for but the next best thing is that Velocity will stay in Ohio in captivity: she will be an ambassador and represent her species in the world of wildlife education. Velocity is the newest member of the Glen Helen Raptor Center Education team to be used in public programing teaching wondering minds about peregrine falcons and conservation of wildlife. As soon as I get a current photo of her I will post it here. Thanks to Glen Helen Raptor Center and the falconer for their efforts!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Website problems

We apologize for the multitude of problems with the website the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it seems that the cams have been unavailable more times than available, especially on the weekends. We are working very hard to correct the problems and hope that our server issues will be resolved soon bringing you more reliable service.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Some notes on courtship...

So, what exactly prompts birds to sing and know when to nest? For the most part it is photoperiod--or the amount of daylight--that causes hormones to flow that ignite the instinct to reproduce. Here in Central Ohio, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice and house finches have begun singing as a result of longer days, even though actual nesting won't take place for some time.

The same is true of our peregrine falcons. Even though we shouldn't expect eggs until March, the amount of daylight will trigger courtship behaviors to start. We are especially excited this year to have the live, streaming video with audio to assist us with witnessing early nesting behavior in addition to the egg laying, incubation, etc.

Here are some displays to watch for at the nest ledge:
"Head-Low" - done by the male or female in which the bird lowers its head in relation to the rest of its body.
"Bowing" - also done by both sexes; head and upper body move repeatedly up and down
The call that may accompany either or both of these displays is:
"Creaking-Call" - a 2-syllable call with the emphasis on the first syllable. Often described as sounding like a squeaky hinge.

These behaviors can be seen all seasons of the year but especially during courtship as the mated pair approach and greet each other after being apart.
Mate-feeding is also important during courtship. More on that to come-stay tuned!