Smile, critters, you’re on camera

This screen shot from a live video shows two of the three peregrine falcon chicks that hatched in a hacking box under the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie.

I would hesitate to tell my boss, but sometimes at work I spend a fair amount of time glued to our “FalCam,” a remote camera trained on peregrine falcons that nest on the International Bridge over the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie.

Peregrine falcons have been active around the bridge since 1999, maybe earlier, but the International Bridge Administration installed a nesting or “hacking” box for the falcons in 2010. Other communities around the state have set up nesting structures for the falcons, which usually nest on cliffs. At the IBA site, like many others, state and federal organizations visit each year to band chicks, keeping track of the birds’ progress.

The IBA peregrines laid four eggs this year and hatched three, and the other day while a couple of us were watching the camera, one of the three “teenage” hatchlings decided to leave the nest, opting for a more secluded spot underneath it. Its quest for its own bedroom didn’t last long, however, and it eventually climbed back into the nesting box, living to beg for food another day.

As a hunter and fisherman, I love checking out remote cameras and reading online outdoor reports. If the reports are local, they can help you decide where you want to hunt or fish the next day or, at the least, they can tell you when game is on the move. It doesn’t substitute for boots on the ground, but it helps.

In my neighborhood, I watch the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory website for duck reports in the fall, and I watch it almost as closely for songbird and hawk migration reports in the spring. I watch Facebook and Instagram posts of local outdoorsmen and scan the background of the photos they post to see if I can determine where they caught their lunkers or shot their birds.

Watching the IBA FalCam the other day made me wonder about other webcams around the world. Well, I’m sure you know already, but you can watch everything from puffins nesting in cliff caves on the Atlantic coast to brown bears catching salmon on the Pacific. The number of cameras trained on wildlife is astounding to me.

Check out explore.org to see all kinds of them, including a camera trained on ospreys in Montana that has an awesome mountain background.

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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