COLUMBUS — The 2009 peregrine falcon nesting season is under way in Ohio and Pennsylvania, following the March 11 appearance of an egg in a nest at the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland.
In Pennsylvania, the watch is on as well with a live, 24-hour Web cast of two peregrine falcons who nest on a ledge on Pennsylvania’s Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.
Ohioans can follow the progress of peregrine nests at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife’s peregrine falcon Web page at www.wildohio.com.
By April, most of Ohio’s peregrine falcons will have chosen or re-bonded with a mate and selected a nesting site. As the nesting season progresses, key events such as egg laying, hatching and fledging will be noted on the Web page for each nest.
Additional nests are expected at sites in Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Toledo and several other communities within the next month.
Because of nesting success in Ohio and across the nation, the peregrine falcon was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999; it is listed as threatened in Ohio, downgraded from endangered in 2008.
Along with several other Midwestern states, Ohio began introducing the birds in 1989. Several pairs were released in cities between 1989 and 1992. Last year in Ohio, 21 nesting pairs of peregrine falcons are estimated to have successfully hatched and fledged 65 young.
Pennsylvanians can visit Department of Environmental Protection’s Web site, www.depweb.state.pa.us, to keep an eye on the state’s falcons.
Last year, the department streamlined the Web navigation and provided easier access to the live video feed of the falcons, providing an educational experience for viewers.
The site drew more than 3 million visits from Internet users. Two cameras stream footage of the falcons via the Web to interested viewers around the world.
In each of the past three years, the female falcon has laid a “clutch” of five eggs. The eggs should begin to hatch around Mother’s Day, May 10, and the young falcons, or “eyases,” will begin to take their first flights, or “fledge” around Father’s Day, June 21.
This will be the fifth year this pair of falcons has nested at the Rachel Carson building. The female has laid eggs here since 2000 with two different males; the second arrived in Harrisburg in 2005 after the first male was discovered injured the previous year.
Pennsylvania’s peregrine falcon population has increased since the early 1990s as a direct result of reintroduction efforts such as the one at the Rachel Carson State Office Building.
There are now more than two dozen pairs of Peregrine falcons nesting at locations across the state. While their numbers are improving, peregrine falcons remain an endangered species in Pennsylvania.
Records indicate peregrines once nested at 44 sites in at least 21 counties in Pennsylvania. To date, the nest at the Rachel Carson State Office Building has produced 39 eggs.
Of those, 36 hatched producing 16 males and 19 females (the sex of one of the nestlings hatched in 2008, the runt of the clutch, could not be determined so the nestling was given a female band).
Of these, 22 falcons survived — 10 males and 12 females.