Wild New Jersey Exclusive: Urban adventure with peregrine falcons on a Jersey City skyscraper
A peregrine falcon stalks the rooftop of 101 Hudson Street. Photo by David Wheeler.
You might not expect to go into the Jersey City financial district in search of one of the state's top predators, but 101 Hudson Street has been home to nesting peregrine falcons for the past several years. Best yet, the falcon family's daily activities - feeding and grooming the three nestlings, battling for space in the nest, calling for their mother and father falcons - are viewed by thousands of people from across the world, thanks to a webcam set up by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Fish & Wildlife division.
Wild New Jersey's David Wheeler recently joined Fish & Wildlife biologists Kathy Clark and Mick Valent as they banded and measured the three chicks, checked their health, and adjusted the webcam. The chicks are fluffy white puffballs of down, though their talons already look fearsome. The parent peregrines didn't merely look fearsome - they relentlessly dive-bombed the researchers in a swooping, screeching aerial attack.
Peregrine falcons have made a remarkable recovery from extinction in the eastern United States, caused in large part by the effects of the now-banned chemical DDT. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife researchers have been instrumental in assisting the recovery through reintroductions and annual banding of the fledglings. There are now between 15 and 20 pairs in New Jersey.
The nest in Jersey City is one of several high-profile nests across the state, including the Atlantic City Hilton, the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, and some of the metropolitan region's most famed bridges. However, only the Jersey City falcons are stars of their own reality show. While visitors to 101 Hudson Street can't actually view the nest directly, a large television monitor is set up on the ground floor to watch the young falcons in real time. You can also view the nest from the comfort of your own computer at: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/peregrinecam/index.html.
N.J. Fish & Wildlife also cover the event here: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/peregrinecam/jcp-2009nestnews.htm. The Endangered & Nongame Species Program relies on donations submitted through the Tax Check-Off for Wildlife (on NJ state income tax returns) and from sales of the "Conserve Wildlife" license plate.
Check out the webcam soon, though - the chicks will be leaving the nest by July!