I'm going to answer some of your questions tonight and the rest a little later in the week. I'm in the midst of scheduling all the volunteers who monitor our downtown pair, and I will be finished with most of that by Tuesday. We have a pair downtown that are videotaped 24 hours a day during the breeding season. We have teams of volunteers that come in every AM before work, review the tapes, document the behaviors in our log book, and summarize the activity on the tape for our "hotline" and for our website updates. The building they nest on is the 56 story Washington Mutual Tower in downtown Seattle; and the video is live on a monitor in the bank lobby and, after hours, on a monitor in a window at street level. Once she lays the first egg, they will be on the web, and I will give you the URL for that. Right now, it's a little tricky to navigate the site and most of what you would see is an empty gravel nest box. The earliest she has ever laid was 3/22, but, because we've had an unusually dry, warm spring, we expect that she will be early. I only hope we are ready by the time she is!
Are you a volunteer, or do you get paid to monitor peregrine nests?
I *wish* I got paid. I'm a volunteer. I coordinate the breeding project with the downtown birds in the spring (with occasional trips to the San Juan Islands and some sites in the Cascades); any monitoring in the winter is informal, but I usually get out at least for a couple of hours every weekend year round, unless I'm out of town. I also record observations that people call in to our hotline, all year.What subspecies are your Peregrines? Are they Peale's peregrines, or Anatus?
The whole subspecies question is not straightforward at all. Where you guys are, the peregrines are all introduced and are a mixture of sub-species, including some with Peales genes (that were bred from falconers' birds - Peales are very popular with falconers because they are so big). Our downtown male is a classic Anatum - full helmet, rufous underparts, lightly marked. His mate is kind of a generic peregrine - she *could* have some Peales genes, though she's certainly not a full Peales. Peales peregrines breed on the Washington outer coast and go all the way through the Aleutian Islands. We occasionally get birds here that appear to be pure Peales, usually during migration. There are Anatum peregrines in the interior of British Columbia and some in the Washington Cascades. It appears that Peales and Anatums interbreed in the San Juan Islands, about 60-70 miles NW of Seattle. The group I'm involved with, the Falcon Research Group, also monitors the peregrines in the San Juans; I'm on the project, but am not very active, because my job and the Seattle birds take most of my time during the breeding season.
Peregrines have not ever been introduced in Seattle or in any western Washington cities (they have been introduced in Spokane, in eastern Washington and at a few mountain sites). We don't know where any of the birds in Seattle come from, except for one non-breeding (so far, but she's sure trying to attact a mate) resident who was banded in the San Juan Islands. We know where she's from and how old she is because of her VID band (see below).How much time do you spend observing them? Do you use any tools (binoculars, etc)?
Our downtown pair are observed via a camera on the nest ledge during the breeding season: we also can crawl down a tunnel (56 floors up) and peek out of an old camera hole at them, 25 feet away. The old camera hole is high enough that they can't see us, unless someone were to stick his or her face right up into the hole.
The other birds we have here are observed with binoculars and spotting scopes. They tend to hang out in the industrial areas where there are lots of pigeons or on bridges. Sometimes we can get quite close to them. I use 10x40 binoculars and a 30 power scope. We have some birds that are double-banded, with what they call a VID (for visual identification) band on one leg. That band has an alpha/numeric combination that's unique to that bird. We can often get close enough to read a VID band with a 30 power scope, *if* the bird cooperates by showing the leg with the VID band rather than tucking that leg and foot up in its belly feathers.Do you have a favorite nesting pair of peregrines?
Our downtown pair.Thank you, Ruth. We look forward to hearing from you when the birdcam is up and running.