Twin Cities nature-watching: With the eagle cam down, attention turns to falcon video stream

Rarely is it that both of the adult peregrine falcons are in the nesting box at the same time — they switch off between hunting and incubating — and even rarer is it that, with both adults in the nesting box, that one of them isn't on the eggs. But that was the case late Thursday afternoon in this image — a screen shot from the video stream.

The eaglets have hatched and are fast growing up. That much we know.

So what’s up with the peregrine falcons?

On Thursday, April 27, the Minnesota DNR announced that, due to technical difficulties it had been encountering as of late, the popular eagle cam would be down for the rest of this “season.” According to a DNR news release Thursday, the three eagle chicks are large and healthy, and none of them appear to have any disadvantages that might keep them from leaving the nest in the not-so-distant future.

So bring on the falcons.

Again this year, the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program is broadcasting a web-streaming video of peregrine falcons nesting atop the Bremer Bank Building in downtown St. Paul. With the help of the Town Square merchants as well as the Midwest Peregrine Society, the Nongame Program provides this opportunity to watch peregrines raise their young in an urban setting. (The eagle nest also is reportedly in the metro area, although the exact location is unknown for the protection of the eagles, the DNR said.)

This year, two eggs were laid over the weekend of April 8-9, a third April 11 and a fourth April 14, according to the DNR. Peregrine eggs are about the size of a small chicken egg and are a rusty/reddish-brown color and take about 33 days to hatch, the DNR said, meaning the first chick should hatch mid-May or so. On Thursday afternoon, it was business as usual in the falcon nesting box, with one of the adults sitting atop the eggs.

The DNR has named the male falcon Tom and the female Arcadia. According to the DNR, Tom is a 2015 fledge from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and Arcadia is a 2013 fledge from the St. Cloud correctional facility building. Arcadia also nested at the box last year with another mate.

In 2015, a new camera with a new viewpoint was installed, offering a clearer picture and closer view than previous years, the DNR said, with a release from the agency adding that “it will be fun to watch them feeding their hungry little fuzz-balls (when the eggs hatch).” The DNR release went on to stay that, while hunting, the peregrine falcon “stoops” into a dive of its prey, grabbing it mid-flight. They are believed to be among the fastest creatures on the planet, having been clocked at over 230 mph, and eat mostly birds of a variety of species.

In 1987, a falcon nesting box was placed on the east side of the Bremer Bank Building and was first used by a pair of falcons in 1988, according to the DNR.

An eagle cam in Pennsylvania also has been popular this spring. And in southern Indiana, an owl cam is giving viewers a closer look at a brood of rare barn owl hatchlings.

According to the Indiana DNR, a barn owl pair nesting in a box the agency maintains in a Lawrence County barn produced seven eggs, and five of them recently hatched. The DNR says the young owlets look healthy and are being fed by their mother several times daily. Barn owls have a distinctive, heart-shaped face with dark eyes and get their name from the fact that they often build their nests in barns.

According to an Associated Press story on the webcam, the barn owl is a state-endangered species that’s seen its numbers decline due to the loss of grassland habitat in Indiana. The DNR says that in 2015, only 10 barn owl nests were reported statewide, making this webcam — and glimpse into these barn owls’ lives — even more unique.

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