Stork closer for peregrine pair

20 SEPTEMBER 2012

Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Orange is expecting a new addition soon as its resident pair of Peregrine Falcons, Beau and Swift, prepare for this season’s single egg to hatch.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Orange is expecting a new addition soon as its resident pair of Peregrine Falcons, Beau and Swift, prepare for this season’s single egg to hatch.
 
The falcons have been permanent residents at the University since 2007, when staff first noticed them hunting from the iconic water tower at CSU in Orange.
 
Adjunct lecturer in environmental management Dr Cilla Kinross said peregrines were the fastest animal alive, diving at speeds up to 300 kilometres per hour.
 
“We first noticed they were using the tower as a sort of launching pad on unsuspecting galahs,” she said.
 
“The vast majority of a peregrine’s diet is made up of other birds which they kill on the wing. They will often kill their prey with the initial strike and then snatch it out of the air as it falls.”
 
CSU staff mounted a nesting box in the tower and fitted it with two video cameras, and the falcons quickly moved in and raised eight healthy chicks there over the following four breeding seasons.
 
The project has been supported by the Beaufighters’ Squadron 30, whose emblem is the peregrine falcon and whose motto is ‘Strike swiftly’, so the two adult birds have been named Swift (female) and Beau (male).
 
This year Swift laid two eggs, but one was lost when it became stuck in Beau’s plumage as he left the nest.
 
Dr Kinross said although footage from the nest-box cameras has been available on the FalconCam Project website since 2007, this was the first year a formal study of the birds’ behaviour has been conducted.
 
The study uses new software which allows data collection from recordings, rather than watching live footage.
 
“This will be a pilot year for further study in coming seasons,” she said.
 
“This site is one of only a handful in the world where we can monitor a breeding pair of peregrines around the clock, because peregrines normally choose to nest in very inaccessible places like cliff faces and quarries.”
 
Dr Kinross, who is with CSU’s School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, said the chick was expected to hatch any time between 19 and 22 September.

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