The female peregrine falcon is pictured here with the first egg laid in the nest box. (Ameren Sioux Web Camera photo)
We're taking the phrase "A bird's eye view" seriously these days at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Ameren Missouri has partnered with the Department and The World Bird Sanctuary to supply a daily view of a nesting peregrine falcon, viewed online at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/16934. When I logged on yesterday, the female falcon was preening, making sure her feathers were clean and in order. This morning, she was sitting tight on her nest.
Peregrines are listed as endangered in Missouri, and were formerly extirpated from our state. According to the MDC, reintroduction efforts hold promise for returning peregrines to our state. Historically, these fierce predators nested in small numbers on bluffs along the Mississippi, Missouri and Gasconade rivers. By the late 1800s only a few pairs remained in the state. Reintroduction projects have been relatively successful and populations of peregrines have been established, with the birds using tall buildings as substitutes for cliff nesting sites, and more returning to former nest sites on suitable bluffs.
In urban areas, peregrines hunt starlings, pigeons and other city birds, sometimes devouring them on office or apartment window ledges--giving a new meaning to the phrase "concrete jungle." Many of the peregrines living in Missouri's urban centers were captive-raised and now use nest boxes and other suitable locations on tall buildings for their eggs. Nests in the wild are typically a "scrape" with accumulated debris on ledges and cliffs and in old tree cavities. Eggs, numbering 3--4, are typically laid from April through June. Incubation lasts for 29--32 days, and it takes 35--42 days for the young to fledge. So there's a limited time when we'll be able to view this peregrine online.
The web camera will be available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the nesting period. For more information about peregrine falcons, go online to www.mdc.mo.gov. To watch the live peregrine falcon online, go to www.mdc.mo.gov/node/16934.