UNION COUNTY, NJ – Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts can now enjoy Falcon Cam’s free live stream from Union County on a new website at ucnj.org/falcon. The new site features live views from inside and outside the Peregrine Falcon Nest on the roof of the Union County Courthouse Tower in downtown Elizabeth, as well as news , updates, facts and other information about the ferocious raptor, known for its high-speed dives of over 240 miles per hour.
The courthouse tower nest has been occupied by a pair of peregrine falcons every year since 2006. The pair in residence this year are watching over four eggs, which are expected to hatch in the coming weeks.
“Union County has been part of the Peregrine Falcon restoration effort for over 15 years,” Union County Commissioner Chairperson Rebecca Williams said. “We are very proud to continue to partner with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to connect our residents to the experience of these magnificent birds and raise awareness of their importance to conservation efforts. in the world.
In addition to the free livestream, the new Falcon Cam website includes:
• Educational resources that teachers can download and use in their classrooms.
• Information on how to help this bird of prey, which is still on the New Jersey endangered species list.
• A clickable link that allows the public to ask questions about peregrine falcons and get answers from a wildlife biologist.
• A behind-the-scenes look at the installation of new cameras and microphones atop the Union County Courthouse tower.
• New photos and videos.
Peregrine falcons were common in New Jersey and other states east of the Mississippi River until the 1950s, when the pesticide DDT began to wreak havoc. DDT was finally banned in 1973. By then, peregrine falcons had disappeared from New Jersey and the entire eastern region, and they were placed on the federal endangered species list.
Hawks didn’t begin to make a comeback in New Jersey until the 1980s, when conservationists began a successful reintroduction strategy.
Union County became involved in the conservation effort in 2005, when a pair of peregrine falcons attempted to establish a nest on the roof of the courthouse tower. They were most likely attracted by the sweeping views of the surroundings, but the attempt was thwarted by windy conditions.
To help ensure success should the hawks try again, Union County worked with the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Conserve Wildlife Foundation to install a nest box in the same location.
Two hawks took up residence in the nest box in 2006, but activity inside the nest remained a mystery until 2016, when Union County worked with its two partners to install webcams and set up free live streams on the county website.
Since then, watching for a new clutch of eggs to hatch has become a rite of spring for Union County residents of all ages and visitors from around the world.
For information about other nature education programs offered by Union County, visit the Trailside Nature and Science Center online at ucnj.org/trailside.
For more information about the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, visit conservewildlifenj.org.
Links to all environmental programs hosted by Union County are available at Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.
Photo courtesy of Tina Casey