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'BirdCam' of Nesting Falcons Returns to Skyscraper After Hurricane Sandy

By Irene Plagianos on May 19, 2014 6:40am 

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 A pair of falcons have returned to a longtime nest at 55 Water St.
Falcons Return to 55 Water St.
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FINANCIAL DISTRICT —  A live webcam showing nesting peregrine falcons at 55 Water St. is back in action this spring, after Hurricane Sandy shut down the longtime “BirdCam."

The camera captured the arrival of Adele, a falcon that was first spotted in April and has laid four eggs in the nest, said Scott Bridgwood, a director of building maintenance at the 54-story skyscraper.

The bird's arrival was happy news for loyal falcon watchers. Peregrines have nested on a 14th-story ledge of the Financial District office building since the 1990s, and the webcam, installed more than 10 years ago, developed a following of viewers from around the world, Bridgwood said.

But viewers were saddened when, for the first time, the falcons didn't come back to nest in 2012.

The falcons did return to the ledge in 2013 and hatched a single egg — but locals couldn't watch because the webcam's wiring had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

Now, the BirdCam is back, allowing virtual bird-watchers to glimpse every moment of the falcons’ nesting, from laying eggs, to hatching their younglings, to seeing the babies take their first flight.

“We’ve very happy to have the falcons back again and have the webcam up and running,” Bridgwood said. “It generates a lot of excitement. People love to watch these birds.”

Hurricane Sandy flooded 55 Water St. with about 4 feet of water, destroying the webcam's wiring and ruining a lobby TV that broadcast the falcons' actions for building tenants. The screen hasn’t been replaced yet, but people can watch the falcons on their computers.

“We love them here,” said Cynthia DeJesus, an office manager at 55 Water for the past 14 years. “I watch them every year and I'm looking forward to seeing this year's eggs hatch.”

The fluffy white hatchlings may be cute but peregrine falcons are known as one of nature’s most remarkable flying hunters.

The falcons dive onto their prey in mid-air at speeds of as high as 200 miles per hhour. They use their talons to knock their victims out, and if that doesn’t work, they use a “tooth-like projection” in their jaw to dislocate the spine of their prey, according to the 55 Water St. website.

The Department of Environmental Protection comes to 55 Water St. each year to place bands on the newly born falcons, to keep track of the once-endangered species.

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