Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Falconcam turbulence?

Hi All,

I just want to make everyone aware of a few changes to the falconcam. First, we plan to return the inward pointing camera as soon as possible and regain our two perspectives of these birds. Second, for a number of reasons we will be changing our broadcast mode for this stream and using a free online streaming provider. Some of the drawbacks are that the streaming quality may be reduced and we may face other issues that we have not faced during our trial period. A second drawback is that now our stream will be subject to advertisements. This is disappointing to us because we have been able to maintain the stream without advertisements until now and we feel that ads change the experience.

Thanks so much for enjoying the BRI Peregrinecam and we are pleased to keep this exciting project going. Many thanks for all of your support.

All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, November 6, 2009

Falcons tend the nest box.

In recent weeks the falcons, both male and female, have been visiting the nest. This continued territoriality is not common among all falcons. Some falcons have forsaken their breeding territories some time ago to begin an annual migration south before returning next spring.

The fact that the birds on the BRIperegrinecam remain suggests that they are finding ample food. I wonder what they are eating, I hope that we can uncover some feeding preferences of these birds throughout the year. What do you see the falcons eating?

Until next time,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Visit to the Falcon Site: 10/15/09

Hi All, on my recent visit to the Peregrine Falcon site I recovered this pellet. It is packed full of feathers, bones, and seed and berry casings--the regurgitated, indigestible morsels of a recent falcon meal. Although most people are familiar with owls producing pellets raptors of all shapes and sizes produce pellets. Given the number of seeds in the pellet and the size of the bones it seems likely that this pellet contains the remains of a seed-eating songbird. The photo below includes a ruler for scale and a different perspective. If you look closely you can see a feather arcing across the top and a bone just below the feather.

In this photo you can see the pellet sitting on the 'front stoop' of the falcon tray.

I'm very happy to be able to share this small discovery with you and provide these photos. I will keep this pellet intact and share it with students when it pertains to the subject of our many classroom visits! Please be in touch with your questions and comments and keep on enjoying the BRIperegrinecam!

Until Next Time,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

All photos are copyright of BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, October 9, 2009

Falcons in October!

Hello All,

I am happy to see all of your comments regarding the falcons and their visits over the past months.

To address some of your questions: (1)No, the blog was not abandoned but we have elected to devote our energies to other projects and priorities during the non-breeding season but are very excited about the start of next season which is right around the corner! (2)Yes, we hope to keep this camera operational throughout the year with at least one of our views. (3) As many have noted our 'inward' perspective has its struggles. I plan to address that issue next week. I truly hope that you can understand our need to prioritize amid various projects and limited time and funding.

I recommend two things to look for this October on our webcam. First, signs of nesting activity or increased activity at the nest tray. This is a good indicator of future nesting efforts and site use and often spikes during October as the day length stimulates breeding behavior and territoriality in a number of bird species. Second, keep an eye out for other falcons. We are approaching the peak of falcon migration in Maine and there is a chance of seeing other falcons in the area.

Have a wonderful fall and thanks for enjoying the webcams.

All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Monday, June 15, 2009

Falcon Fledge!

Hi All,
I am happy to report that our banded falcon chick fledged on Saturday June 6th. What a great event and success for this pair! Of late we have seen falcons visiting irregularly...this may be either of the adults or the chick herself. Thanks you so much for enjoying this birds journey with us and obviously we wish the bird good luck.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Falcon Chick Springs Forward!

Contributed by Bruce Connery, Biologist, National Park Service.

Spring is edging closer to summer with each day and the chick is marking these days with amazing changes in development and growth. Almost three weeks have passed since hatching, and the slow changes witnessed in the beginning will soon be replaced with big daily changes in movements, behavior, and development. It helps to be the sole focus of your parent’s attention and to have been blessed with good weather this spring for Maine’s coastal areas. The eruption of feathers will become more and more apparent, beginning first along the wings and tail followed by the back and head and eventually everywhere. Soon the young chick will begin to actively take food from its parents and feed itself, matched with small forays around the scrape with bursts of wing flapping and hopping. All signs of a rapidly developing young falcon.

The witnessed changes on the developing chick suggest it is doing fine and suggests to biologists that the best time to enter the scrape to collect information is approaching. The chick’s development serves as a guide in determining the correct dates to collect the data and permanently mark the chick with identification bands with a minimal risk to both the chick and the adults. The bands provide a permanent tracking tool that is visible and not burdensome, allowing managers and anyone the opportunity to re-identify the bird throughout its lifetime without the need for additional handling by humans that is likely to be both stressful and an opportunity for injury. At this time, the unhatched eggs also will be collected as they will provide valuable information to biologists interested in learning of any embryo development and what contaminant burdens are present through chemical analyses. Combined, the results of these data will provide an inside view of some of the factors facing the adults and the young chick, being valuable information to biologists and managers trying to identify factors and conditions that are or can threaten these birds and their habitats.

Explanations of why only one egg hatched are abundant. The use of an artificial platform, or tray, as a scrape at this site is not unusual to falcon pairs in New England, as many have been documented throughout this region. However their use is less typical for most of the nesting territories found in Maine and for much of northern New England. Appropriately positioned trays often provide excellent nesting conditions on buildings and towers with their suitably-sized pea gravel substrate, superb drainage, and correct orientation to weather conditions. However, Maine and other northeastern states are blessed with numerous natural cliff faces that are found above rivers, lakes, coastal headlands, and on near shore islands. These natural cliff faces provide ample opportunities for peregrine adults to be highly selective in choosing the sites with the best drainage, protection from the elements, access and visibility, and foraging opportunities.

Bruce Connery
National Park Service

Monday, May 4, 2009

Peregrine and Parenthood

Peregrines and Parenthood

By Ron Joseph, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife

“How very exciting and quite a relief”: a blogger’s response to Patrick’s announcement of a falcon hatchling summarized our collective feelings. I couldn’t have stated it better myself. Admittedly, as the days dragged past a projected first hatch date, I had my doubts that any eggs had survived the cold snap that coincided with egg laying more than a month ago. Trying times are still ahead for this youngster and any sibling(s) that may hatch over the next few days (don’t be surprised if an egg or two doesn’t hatch). As my father was fond of saying, “They’re not out of the woods yet.” But there is reason for optimism. Peregrines are very dedicated parents so we’ll see food deliveries increase especially as the young mature. The adult male has been busy off camera caching food in “cupboards” such as crevices or ledges on old buildings or bridges. Those prey items will be retrieved and delivered to the attending adult. She’ll tear meat from a bird (most likely killed on the wing) before feeding it to her young. Since the young will be nearly full grown when they fledge in six weeks (six plus a few days for females), you can imagine how much food will be delivered by both parents.

At one month old, the young will compete with each other for food delivered by their parents. The nestlings will aggressively strike at food with their talons. It’s during this stage of their young’s development that parents, not wanting to be “footed” by a hungry youngster’s sharp talons, will drop food off quickly before departing the nest box. Some young are reluctant to leave the comfort of the eyrie when it’s time to fledge (sounds like my 19-year old son!). I once watched an adult female peregrine in Bryce Canyon National Park fly close to her eyrie clutching a dead white-throated swift in an attempt to encourage one reluctant youngster to fledge. It was actually quite entertaining. The youngster’s siblings had already fledged. But this particular youngster had no intention of leaving the red sandstone cliff eyrie. Each time a parent flew close by carrying food, the youngster would open its wings and scream defiantly. Finally, as the nestling leaned forward again with open wings, a strong gust of wind lifted it sideways out of the nest. The fledgling soon discovered the value of wings as it awkwardly chased its parents. The adult female dropped the dead swift and the youngster caught it in mid-air.

Peregrines in Maine also prefer to catch birds on the wing. Experienced adults use the sun to their advantage during hunting forays. They “climb” high in the sky, positioning themselves between the sun and their targeted prey knowing full well that an unsuspecting blue jay, for example, won’t look up into the sun where the peregrine is making its stoop. Peregrines fly over 100 mph (and sometimes much more) in a dive; their talons form a loose fist until the moment they strike. When peregrines hit their prey, be it blue-winged teal or grackle, the feathers fly as the injured bird tumbles through the air.

I collected feathers from over a dozen different bird species (i.e. rose-breasted grosbeak, northern flicker, mourning dove, American robin, to name a few) in one western Maine eyrie in the mid-90s. The Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sent the feathers to the late Roxie Laybourne of the Smithsonian Institute for identification. She was the world’s leading expert on bird identification from forensic evidence. I was privileged to work with Ms. Laybourne when I worked as a raptor biologist in Utah. She helped me identify lots of prey remains from many peregrine eyries. She could identify the age and sex of a bird based on one feather. Ms. Laybourne told me once that she helped the FBI solve a murder by matching the pillow feathers in a dead man’s nose with the pillow used by the murderer!

If all goes well in the weeks ahead, the young peregrine(s) should fledge sometime in mid-June. The nest box will become littered with small feathers, desiccated prey bones, and lots of white wash (falcon excrement). Be sure to turn on the volume because nestlings are quite vocal, especially when food is delivered.

Ron Joseph
Wildlife Biologist

Friday, May 1, 2009

Press Release--Falcon Hatch

Peregrine Falcon Egg Hatches on Live Webcam

GORHAM, Maine, May 1st, 2009—BioDiversity Research Institute’s Peregrine Cam has captured the hatching of a falcon chick at 2:17 this morning. See the birds live at

Editors/Reporters: See the peregrines live at For still shots to print, reply to or call (207) 839-7600, ext. 118.

“We are ecstatic about seeing this egg hatch” said Education and Outreach Coordinator Patrick Keenan. “We were starting to get worried as we expected the eggs to hatch last week. However we trusted the birds which have dutifully incubated their four eggs since March 25th. Now their efforts have paid off.”

The BRI Peregrine Cam is one of BRI’s fleet of wildlife webcams. BRI Eagle Cam2 features nesting eagles incubating two eggs that may hatch as early as May 6th. Ospreys on BRI Osprey Cam laid eggs on April 27th and BRI Finch Cam is featuring the rapid development of five finch nestlings. In addition to all this, BRI Loon Cam was installed on April 28th. Watch BRI wildlife webcams at

The BRI Peregrine cam is a cutting edge research and educational tool. It offers two perspectives of the nest tray and is equipped with a camera that functions in extremely low light, allowing for monitoring night and day. In fact, this camera has documented the earliest case of nesting Peregrine Falcons in Maine. The first egg was laid on March 20th!

“We hope that this camera provides a new opportunity for individuals around the world to connect with wildlife and learn about the vast array of issues that wildlife face,” says Wing Goodale, Deputy Director at BioDiversity Research Institute. “People all over the world have been watching these webcams and joining our online community ( to learn more about the species that we feature.

The BRI Peregrine cam is provided free of charge by Gorham, Maine-based BioDiversity Research Institute in collaboration with and support from NextEra Energy Resources, Bank of America, Kids in the Nest, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Maine Department of Transportation.

BioDiversity Research Institute is a nonprofit ecological research group that supports global health by conducting collaborative ecological research, assessing ecosystem health, promoting environmental awareness, and informing science based decision making.

First egg hatches!

Hello all,
We would like to welcome a Falcon hatchling to the world. The first egg hatched early this morning at about 2:17 AM. Be sure to check in to see these adults feeding this nestling! What an exciting morning!
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eggs to hatch any day!

Hi all, just a reminder to check on the Peregrine Falcon nest. The eggs could hatch at any time A word of warning. Not every clutch results in viable offspring. There are a number of reasons that eggs do not hatch including poor incubation/exposure to weather, developmental problems related to genetics or contaminant exposure, and predation. So, cross your fingers for a successful hatch.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, April 3, 2009

Peregrine Falcon Scrape Site Selection

Hi All,
Bruce Connery of the National Park Service has contributed this informative blog about falcon nest site selection.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Peregrine Falcon Scrape Site Selection

The selection of a scrape, or nest site, for peregrine falcons occurs in tandem with other courtship activities and behaviors. The adults may visit several likely suitable ledges or structural platforms in the weeks leading up to the eggs being laid, seeking sites that have the right combination of factors such as aspect, exposure, and protection. Along with courtship activities such as pair flying and food exchanges, the adults often engage in ledge or scrape displays. These displays further strengthen the bond between the pair and also indicate possible nesting sites.

Falcons prefer scrapes that are composed of pea-sized gravels with small grains of sand or gravel and some soil, but where precipitation can drain away from the eggs, incubating adult, and eventually the chicks. Falcon scrapes may occur on natural or artificial structures but must be inaccessible from terrestrial predators and are often situated between vertical faces or walls above and below the scrape.

Natural candidate nesting sites can be open exposed ledges, ledges under an overhanging cliff, or raptor stick nests that the falcons claim for themselves from other raptors or from ravens that have an east to southern aspect. Scrapes on southeastern aspects provide morning warmth while protecting the adults and chicks from the hot mid- to late afternoon daytime temperatures that become common in late spring and early summer.

Artificial nest sites have good visibility and access and some protection from the sun and weather. Artificial sites may be the tops of bridge supports or structures, tops of buildings or on towers used in manufacturing complexes, but again must have a granular substrate that the adults can move around or hollow out into a depression to hold the eggs.

Nest boxes are often placed on towers, bridges, or other high locations were falcons have been observed at least perching and resting. The boxes can vary in size according to the dimension of the location they were they will be placed, however they must have sides that rise above and hold the granular substrate and have good drainage.

Bruce Connery
National Park Service

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Become a BRI Webcam Member

Greetings all!

BRI is very excited to announce the launch of a membership program.

Please click here to become a member

Through this program and your support we hope over the nesting season to raise $65,000 to ensure that we are able to keep these systems running free for everyone.

There are seven different giving levels with the membership and they each have unique and exciting thank you gifts. All members will be automatically signed up for our electronic updates and will receive a BRI sticker--the e-updates will be free for all viewers. The membership levels are.

1. Fledgling, $25: this is for kids and students. Members at this level will receive an eagle mobile and a BRI sticker.

2. Finch, $35: with this membership level you will receive a BRI sticker.

3. Kestrel, $60: you will receive a BRI pin.

4. Osprey, $100: you will receive a 1G memory stick for your computer loaded with high resolution video footage from our webcams and a beautiful eagle screen saver for your computer. Once you have loaded the videos and screen saver onto your computer you can use the memory stick to transfer files and back-up files on your computer.

5. Loon, $250: you will receive a signed copy of Dr. David Evers (BRI's Executive Director) and and Ms Taylor's (former board member) book on loons.

6. Peregrine, $500: you will become one of BRI's top supporters with a Peregrine membership. You will receive a signed copy of Dr. Evers and Ms. Taylor's book "Call of the Loon", our webcam e-update, and BRI sticker.


7. Eagle, $1,000: Your exceptionally generous support allows BRI to conduct its cutting edge wildlife education and research. You will receive a quarterly letter from BRI's Executive Director, a signed copy of the book "Call of the Loon", webcam e-updates, and BRI sticker.

Please consider become a webcam member. Last year we were fortunate to receive several one-year foundation grants to expand our program.

We are working on setting up two more loon cams, and potentially a catbird cam. Today we were talking about potential plans to set up ten more cams in Maine as well as some in some tropical site.

Your support will ensure than we are able to continue our current work and greatly expand.

Thank you.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Caring for eggs

Hi All, Ron Joseph a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has contributed this very informative biologist journal about egg care and his experience with Peregrine Falcon recovery efforts. Enjoy!


Both sexes develop brood patches or temporary featherless areas near the breast to facilitate heat exchange from adults to the eggs. Females perform most of the month-long incubation duties although males will spell females by incubating the clutch about 33% of the time. As a rule, peregrines are relatively quiet during this stage of the nesting season.
Males will occasionally call from a nearby ledge or other perch. And while the male is busy hunting for food (mostly birds) and stashing surplus food in caches, the female sits tightly on the eggs. About once an hour she'll stand up and turn the eggs with her bill to ensure an even distribution of heat in the developing embryos. In the late 1970s, when I began my career as a raptor biologist in Utah and Colorado, there were so few peregrines breeding in the west (none in Maine) we would not allow peregrines to incubate their own eggs. Peregrines back then still produced DDE induced thin-shelled eggs. The normal "wear and tear" of turning thin-shelled eggs by adults was problematic. Cracked eggs translate to dead embryos.
To avoid a potential reproduction loss, we fooled the adults by replacing a clutch of wild eggs with identical looking ceramic dummy eggs. The real eggs were transported in specially designed portable incubators to The Peregrine Fund's captive breeding facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. After the wild eggs hatched in captivity, the two-week old chicks were transported back to their home eyries in places like Dinosaur National Monument. I remember being stunned by the amount of damage to the first set of dummy eggs I collected after a month of incubation. The adults were stunned too in discovering loud, hungry young when minutes earlier an adult was incubating artificial eggs. We dropped many dead bobwhite quail onto ledges near the eyrie to help the adults feed their "surprise" family. Fortunately, peregrine populations today are recovering and the magnificent birds now reoccupy many parts of their former range, including Maine. Peregrine eggshell thickness has improved making it no longer necessary to manipulate the eyries with dummy eggs.


Ron Joseph
Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
1168 Main Street
Old Town, Maine 04468

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Peregrine Falcon Nesting Biology

ll, what a great way to start spring with the peregrine laying her first egg. I have just posted a video blog talking about what we should see over the nest month. Click here to watch it.

So here are some things that we should be watching for. The bird will lay 3-4 eggs around 48 hours apart. So by next Friday we should have a full clutch. Before the female lays the eggs she become quite lethargic, and this is what we have seen this last week and I believe is what explains her behavior of just sitting in the nest over three nights last week.

The eggs should take around 33 days to hatch, so we should see our first chick around April 22nd.

The female will tend to the eggs about two-thirds of the time while the male will attend the nest about one-third of the time. Every half and hour or so you should see the birds stand up and rotate the egg in order to keep the yolk from becoming stuck to one side. This is very important to keep the egg healthy.

We will keep you updated on the latest developments!

Have a great weekend.

Wing Goodale
Senior Research Biologist
BioDiversity Research Institute

Friday, March 20, 2009

Peregrine Falcons Lay Egg

Peregrine Falcons Lay Egg Before Live Internet Camera


GORHAM, Maine, March 20, 2009—Biodiversity Research Institute’s biologists confirmed that at 1:30 p.m. a peregrine falcon laid an egg before the live BRI Peregrine Cam.


Editors/Reporters: See the peregrine pair live at For still shots to print, reply to or call (207) 839-7600, ext. 109.


“This is amazing,” says Senior Research Biologist Wing Goodale. “We have all been watching with bated breath for the last three days. I haven’t been getting much sleep.”


The BRI Peregrine Cam is a new live internet camera for Biodiversity Research Institute and adds to the eagles, ospreys, loons, and finches that BRI monitors. Both the eagle pairs appear to be close to nesting.


Viewers from around the world are chatting live and capturing every event on BRI’s online webcam community, This community site allows viewers to follow the events and post images and videos taken of nest activities. 


BRI webcams are at the forefront of innovation, giving biologists and the public a cutting-edge way to research wildlife.  BRI Peregrine Cam offers two views of the nest, one of which functions in full color in low-light conditions, providing an image 24 hours a day. 


“In Maine, breeding peregrine falcons are listed as a threatened species, with only 23 known pairs nesting in 2008,” said BioDiversity Research Institute’s Raptor Program Director Chris DeSorbo. “These webcams serve multiple purposes-—they can inform us about the causes of nest failures and they vastly increase people’s awareness of the many threats facing wildlife.”


To support global health, BRI conducts collaborative ecological research, assesses ecosystem health, promotes environmental awareness, and informs science based decision making.


BRI webcams are possible through collaboration and support from dedicated viewers, Bank of America, Kids in the Nest Educational Society, Nextera Energy, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


# # #

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And it begins

Well, all of the activity at the nest has been very exciting. In the past these birds have laid eggs during the first week of April. So, I guess we may have some time before we see an egg. All of this activity is sure egging us on though.
Other good news is that we will have regular contributors to this blog beginning next week. Charlie Todd of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Ron Joseph of US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bruce Connery of Acadia National Park will be sharing contributions to help educate our viewers about the life history, behavior, and conservation efforts of Peregrine Falcons in Maine and New England. This is a great chance to learn about Peregrine Falcons from wildlife experts will many years of accumulated experience.
I hope that we have a lot to talk about.
Allthe Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Peregrine Flacons on the cam

Well, all of the activity at the nest has been very exciting. In the past these birds have laid eggs during the first week of April. So, I guess we may have some time before we see an egg. All of this activity is sure egging us on though.
Other good news is that we will have regular contributors to this blog beginning next week. Charlie Todd of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Ron Joseph of US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bruce Connery of Acadia National Park will be sharing contributions to help educate our viewers about the life history, behavior, and conservation efforts of Peregrine Falcons in Maine and new England. This is a great chance to learn about Peregrine Falcons from wildlife experts will many years of accumulated experience.
I hope that we have a lot to talk about.

All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Falcon visits

Hi all,
I am very happy to report that over the past week we have observed regular visits at the nest tray. This is a great sign that the birds are considering nesting. We'll keep you posted as we approach the typical nesting period for these birds. Also, check in at our online community site -- to view photos and video of the recent falcon visits. Have a great day!
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Camera Installed

We have istalled the camera and anticipate 'going live' on February 4th. We will keep you posted.
All the Best,
Patrick Keenan
BioDiversity Research Institute