Peregrine falcons were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1970. The Midwest Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project was initiated in an effort to restore the peregrine to the Midwest. Although peregrine falcons did not historically nest in the Buckeye State, Ohio became a partner in the project when a pair nested on the Commodore Perry Motor Inn in downtown Toledo in 1988. As the first step in the restoration project, Ohio received peregrines for release through a technique known as “hacking.”
Ohio’s hacking program continued from 1989 to 1993 with a total release of 46 peregrine falcons in the cities of Akron, Cincinnati and Columbus. The goal of the hacking project was to establish a nesting pair in each of those cities. At the conclusion of the hacking phase of the project, Ohio then turned to management of the species by providing safe nesting structures, organizing volunteer groups to monitor nest sites, and managing nesting pairs when they occur in new locations.
Since the first nest in 1988, other nests have since been initiated in the cities of Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, Toledo and Youngstown. Volunteers and Division of Wildlife personnel monitor individuals and pairs regularly throughout the breeding season in these urban environments. Adult peregrines are identified by their leg bands. When possible, young are banded and blood samples are taken at three weeks of age for genetic evaluation and analysis of the level of toxic substances. Banding data and blood samples are sent to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center.
Thanks to scientfic management practices, peregrine falcons were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999 and were downlisted to threatened on the Ohio endangered species list in 2008.
History of the Columbus Peregrine FalconCam
The Columbus Peregrine FalconCam was started in 1997 as a way to observe the lives of these elusive and endangered birds of prey. In addition to being popular with falcon enthusiasts around the world, the Columbus FalconCam has proven to be an invaluable tool for studying the activity of peregrines for scientific purposes.
The nest box sits on a ledge of the 41st floor of the Rhodes State Office Tower in downtown Columbus. Without the aid of the two cameras on the ledge, the nest would otherwise be hidden from public view. The cameras bring the daily activity of these birds - consumption of prey, protection of eggs, care for chicks, and much more -- into offices, classrooms, and homes. It raises awareness and promotes education of wildlife conservation issues.
Thanks to the FalconCam, Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists are better able to monitor the way these falcons use their territory. By identifying individual peregrines by their leg band codes, we are able to track their travels. We have seen a peregrine from Quebec spend the winter at the Rhodes Tower for two years in a row, and we know another came to the site from Ontario, Canada. Leg band codes help identify individual birds as well as give us valuable information about their life spans.
Regular viewers of the FalconCam actively assist biologists by emailing images they capture of the live FalconCam and reporting what they see.
David P. Scott
Wildlife Research Administrator
ODNR Division of Wildlife
Dave has coordinated Ohio’s peregrine falcon restoration and monitoring project since 1995. He estimated that by the end of the 2007 nesting season, he had banded and collected blood samples from nearly 300 falcons in Ohio. Primary activities of the project include providing technical assistance to District staff who maintain and monitor use of peregrine nest boxes, compiling statewide data on nesting activities and productivity, and maintaining Ohio’s falcon banding records. Dave coordinates Ohio’s program with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, and addresses many media and public inquiries about this species.
Site Manager, Columbus Peregrine Nest
ODNR Division of Wildlife
Donna is an Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist and has tracked peregrine falcon activity in Central Ohio since 1995. She oversees the installation and maintenance of nest box and cameras at the Rhodes Tower, and posts regular updates to the FalconCam Web site, which are read by tens of thousands of visitors who visit the site to view the birds. Her maintenance duties at the site include rare opportunities to study the feeding behavior of the falcons; during the annual the fall cleaning she collects leftover pieces and parts of prey items found at the nest ledge to help determine what species of birds the peregrines eat at season. Donna uses the FalconCam to monitor record (based on sightings of the falcon leg bands) which falcons are on territory, what the level of activity is, and the status of nesting.