Thursday, November 10, 2016

Out With the Old, In With the New-Nest Site Maintenance

With the changing seasons comes changes to the peregrine nest site on the 41st floor of the Rhodes State Office Tower. Every year wildlife biologists take the opportunity during the "off season" to conduct routine maintenance in preparation for the next year's nesting season.  This maintenance usually involves a new coat of paint on the nest box and replacing the old nesting material (gravel) with new. This year we decided that some other upgrades were needed.
Old nest box with last season's "mess"

We started with the easiest project first, 2 weeks ago we put a new platform in front of the ledge camera. The old one was starting to show its age. The ledge platform is useful to help read leg band codes when the peregrines perch next to the ledge camera.  

The second phase of off season maintenance was to install a brand new nest box. The previous box was the original and had been in place since 1991! After a morning's worth of work last week, a new nest box was put in place that will hopefully be productive for the next 25 years...!

New nest box in place.  Some additional minor repairs and touch up will be done prior to next season.

Some history being hauled away - this old nest box raised ~45 young peregrines
over the years! The first successful nest at this site fledged 3 in 1994. 
While we were working on the nest ledge we found various remains of the different food sources the peregrines have feasted on. We found the skull of a woodcock and the leg band of a racing pigeon.  We tracked the pigeon band number to a club in Herman, Pennsylvania!  

Peregrines are often incorrectly labeled as being useful to control nuisance pigeon populations. While peregrines will hunt pigeons, for the most part, resident pigeons in urban areas become wise to the presence of the resident peregrines and tend to avoid the predators so both species coexist in the same area.  But a racing pigeon flying through the area is clueless to the potential threat.  Peregrines are opportunistic predators and will prey on whatever bird species are easily available, which sometimes includes an unwary racing pigeon.   
Racing pigeon leg band in nest box