World’s Fastest Bird Speeds Toward Protection
"The restoration of the peregrine falcon in New Jersey marks an important conservation milestone and is one of the first success stories attributed to New Jersey’s Endangered Species Conservation Act," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Even with this success, our work to manage the peregrine population and monitor for the potential effects of environmental contaminants cannot wane."
The breeding pair of falcons that produced the chicks were first spotted several years ago by two building managers at the LCOR building at 101 Hudson Street in Jersey City. Standing at a height of 592 feet, the 42-story building is the second highest in New Jersey. The four chicks reside in a three-sided nest box that was placed on the roof of the building in 2001. The chicks can walk but are not yet able to fly. This hatching is the fourth successful falcon breeding to occur at this location.
Individually identifying each bird through banding helps the Department in its study of the birds migration habits, behavior, life span, survival rate, reproductive success and population growth.
Peregrines historically bred in New Jersey on cliffs along the Hudson and Delaware rivers, but were wiped out in the East primarily due to pesticide contamination.
Starting in the late 1970s, biologists from DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife released young peregrines into the wild. The first successfully re-established peregrine nest in the East produced chicks in 1980 at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County, New Jersey. By 1986, 10 pairs were nesting in New Jersey and the population now remains stable at about 18 pairs.
The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999. They continue to be listed as endangered in New Jersey because they remain threatened by contaminants and human disturbance, and they rely on active management of their nesting sites.
The peregrine falcon is the largest falcon in New Jersey and the world’s fastest bird. In a dive, peregrines can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour and take their prey (other birds) in mid air.
A grant from the Verizon Foundation in 2001 enabled the Department to install a webcam, providing an educational connection for the people of New Jersey and around the world to view the daily behavior of the peregrine falcons.
In addition to the webcam, a monitor display in the lobby of 101 Hudson Street provides employees and visitors with a "live cam" view of the birds as well as background on peregrines and the successful efforts to restore them in New Jersey.
After the banding is completed, second graders from the Cornelia F. Bradford School in Jersey City will have an opportunity to see one of the falcon chicks up close. The students are participants in Project Peregrine, a hands-on educational program using the peregrine falcon as its focus to teach reading, writing, science and geography. The Peregrine Project is part of a larger joint effort by DEP, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the Verizon Foundation to raise awareness about this endangered raptor.
To see a live video feed of the peregrine falcon chicks, visit the Department’s website at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/peregrinecam/index.html
May 26, 2004
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