Friday, May 13, 2016

Q&A For Inquiring Minds

Well, the nest box camera lens was clean for most of a day--!  It is now again a somewhat foggy view having been hit with excrement a couple more times since we cleaned it on Tuesday morning.  The good news is that the chicks are becoming more and more mobile each day and the less time they spend inside the nest box, the less likely they are to defecate on the camera.  With that, some questions/comments from viewers:

With the nest box camera being hit each year with excrement, why do we not change the location of the camera?  Why not have it above the birds looking down into the nest?
One of the things that makes the Columbus Peregrine FalconCam one of the most popular nests to watch is our high resolution cameras and the views of the nest they provide.  Having the nest box camera looking right into the nest box puts the viewer at eye-level with the falcons.  This perspective seems to be the most pleasing and interesting but the downside is that it does put the front of the camera at risk for being pooped on.  Think about the perspective if the camera was above the nest looking down over the birds.  Sure, that would still provide an interesting view into the nest but it wouldn't compare to being on the same level as the birds.  So, we keep the camera where it is and accept the fact that there will be some limitations of view once the chicks start pooping on the front of the camera.  We first installed the cameras in 1996 so we'll stick with the system that has worked pretty good and remained popular for ~20 years.

Why are there so many adult feathers inside the nest box?
The majority of the feathers that can be seen inside the nest box now are remains of prey items.  The adults do molt in summer so we usually find a peregrine feather or two inside the box when we clean it out in fall, however, mostly the adults shed their feathers out and about, away from the nest.  But, because at this point in the nesting cycle the adults are bringing in prey several times a day and often are plucking it on the ledge, there are many odd feathers floating about from all of the various bird species they consume.

Where are the young when they are not inside of the nest box/are they in danger of falling off the ledge?
As the young become more mobile it is normal for them to explore their nest ledge.  Here is a photo of the layout of the ledge around the nest box to help show where the chicks may be when they are not in view of the camera:
The chicks spend a lot of time on the "porch" in front of the nest box and will venture up and down the length of the lower ledge.  This morning, during some exploration, one of the chicks hopped up onto the block next to the box:
Because of the several inch difference between the upper (where the adults land when they fly in) and the lower ledge, the chicks are not in danger of falling off the ledge.  In fact, it should be several more days before they can get up to the upper ledge level.  In the near future we can expect to see them further away from the nest box on the lower ledge.