Mar 14 2017

Nesting in a Snow Storm

Peregrine incubating in a snow storm, Harrisburg, PA, 14 Mar 2017, 6:00am (snapshot from the DEP Falcon Cam)

Peregrine incubating eggs during snow storm, Harrisburg, PA, 14 Mar 2017, 6:00am (snapshot from the DEP Falcon Cam)

One of Pennsylvania’s peregrine falcon families has a big challenge today.  They’re incubating three eggs in Harrisburg where the “Nor’easter” will bring 9 to 13 inches of snow and blustery winds until 10pm tonight.

Their nest is on a ledge of the Rachel Carson Building where four cameras provide live streams of their activity. Two snapshots taken before dawn show there was already a lot of snow at 6am.   Below, a view from the closeup camera.

Peregrine incubating in a snow storm, Harrisburg, PA, 14 Mar 2017, 6:00am (snapshot from the DEP Falcon Cam)

Peregrine incubating in a snow storm, Harrisburg, PA, 14 Mar 2017, 6:00am (snapshot from the PA Falcon Cam)

The situation looks awful to us but it’s all in a day’s work for peregrine falcons.  Here’s why:

  • Snow is a normal challenge during the nesting season.  Peregrines lay eggs in late winter so that their young will hatch when food is plentiful during spring migration. There are many stories of successful peregrine nests after blizzards in the Snow Belt. Ask folks from Cleveland, Ohio and Rochester, New York about their peregrines!
  • Feathers provide excellent insulation.  These birds are wearing down “coats” underneath their smooth body feathers.  Notice the unmelted snow on the female’s back.  This is good!
  • The brood patch (bare skin on their bellies) keeps the eggs quite warm.

During a brief respite in the snowfall, the female peregrine stood up at 6:25am.  You can see that her body has kept the nest free of snow.  Don’t worry, she was back on those eggs within 30 seconds!

The peregrines' nest has been kept warm, 14 Mar 2017, 6:25am (photo from the DEP Falcon Cam in Harriburg, PA)

The peregrines’ nest has been kept warm, 14 Mar 2017, 6:25am (photo from the PA Falcon Cam in Harriburg, PA)

Click any one of the photos above to go directly to the Live PA Falcon Cam or click here for the complete website.

Meanwhile, here in Pittsburgh we have no snow at all.

 

(snapshots from the PA Falcon Cam in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

p.s. Why are the time stamps different on the Harrisburg cameras? The wide-angle PA Falcon Cam is on Eastern Standard Time (EST); the closeup camera is on Daylight Saving Time (EDT).

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Nesting in a Snow Storm”

  1. Kathy Bramanon 14 Mar 2017 at 8:51 am

    If warm thoughts help, I have a ton of them on the way!

  2. Sue ramseyon 14 Mar 2017 at 11:42 am

    Watching the DC eagle cam. Nest is full of snow but incubation continues. Hope this storm passes soon and warmer weather comes back. Hard for birds but they are determined to hatch those babies.

  3. Sally kingon 14 Mar 2017 at 9:04 pm

    There is a falcon at the cathedral tonight. It is 9:05 PM Tuesday March 14th. I’m going to post it on Face book. Pitt Perigrines
    Thank you

  4. Gintaras B.on 15 Mar 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Best thing human species could to to help those birds: stop driving those fuel “eating” SUVs….stop Over Consumption – it hurts nature….GULF Stream is slowing down…if it stops – we’ll be living with penguins in North America…not only humans, but Peregrines not unlikely will survive here…Well, Peregrines will find other places…humans – won’t….

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