UNION COUNTY, NJ — Bird watchers and nature fans can now enjoy Union County’s free Falcon Cam livestream on a new website at ucnj.org/falcon. The new site features live inside/outside views of the peregrine falcon nest on the roof of the Union County Courthouse Tower in midtown Elizabeth, along with news, updates, factoids and other information about the fierce raptor, known for its high-speed dives of more than 240 miles per hour.
The Courthouse Tower nest has been occupied by a pair of peregrine falcons every year since 2006. The pair in residence this year is watching over four eggs, which are expected to hatch in the coming weeks.
“Union County has been part of the peregrine falcon restoration effort for more than 15 years,” said Union County Commissioner Chairperson Rebecca Williams. “We are very proud to continue partnering with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to connect our residents with the experience of these magnificent birds and raise awareness about their significance to conservation efforts around the world.”
Along with the free livestream, the new Falcon Cam website includes:
• Educational resources for teachers to download and use in their classrooms.
• Information on how to help this bird of prey, which is still on the New Jersey endangered species list.
• A clickable link that enables members of the public to ask questions about peregrine falcons and get answers from a wildlife biologist.
• A behind-the-scenes look at the installation of new cameras and microphones on the top of Union County Courthouse Tower.
• New photos and videos.
Peregrine falcons were common in New Jersey and other states east of the Mississippi River until the 1950s, when the pesticide DDT began to take its toll. DDT was finally banned in 1973. By then, peregrine falcons had disappeared from New Jersey and the entire Eastern region, and they were put on the federal endangered species list.
The falcons did not begin to make a comeback in New Jersey until the 1980s, when conservationists launched a successful reintroduction strategy.
Union County became involved in the conservation effort in 2005, when a pair of peregrine falcons tried to establish a nest on the roof of the Courthouse Tower. They were most likely attracted by the commanding views of the surrounding area, but the attempt was thwarted by windy conditions.
To help ensure success if the falcons tried again, Union County worked with the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Conserve Wildlife Foundation to install a nesting box at the same location.
Two falcons did take up residence in the nesting box in 2006, but activity inside the nest remained a mystery until 2016, when Union County worked with its two partners to install webcams and set up free livestreams on the county website.
Since then, keeping watch for a new clutch of eggs to hatch has become a rite of spring for Union County residents of all ages and visitors from all over the world.
For information about other nature education programs offered by Union County, visit the Trailside Nature and Science Center online at ucnj.org/trailside.
For more information about the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, visit conservewildlifenj.org.
Links to all environmental programs hosted by Union County are available at the Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.
Photo Courtesy of Tina Casey