UNION COUNTY, NJ — The Union County Board of County Commissioners invites bird watchers and nature fans of all ages to tune into Union County’s free Falcon Cam livestream at ucnj.org/falcon, where they can follow along as two adult peregrine falcons raise four newly-hatched chicks in their nest, located on the roof of the historic Union County Courthouse Tower in Elizabeth.
“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 Union County community — and communities all over the world — with the experience of these magnificent birds, helping to raise awareness about the importance of conservation efforts,” said Union County Commissioner Chairperson Sergio Granados.
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 young chicks, called eyases, which hatched at the end of April.
Eyases are known as voracious eaters. They are expected to double their weight within a week. In three weeks, they are 10 times their size at birth.
At six weeks, they will begin learning how to fly. Visitors to ucnj.org/falcon can watch their progress on a camera located outside of the nest.
Along with the free live streams, 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 from the top of the county courthouse; and
• updated photos and videos.
Peregrine falcons were common in New Jersey and other states east of the Mississippi River until the 1950’s, 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 United States, 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 program.
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 web cams and set up free livestream 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.
Photo Courtesy of Tina Casey