A pair of falcons perched high above the Melbourne CBD skyline have gotten birdwatchers excited for an impending hatch after laying four fresh eggs – with the action all happening via webcam.
Viewers tuning into the livestream have been given renewed hope after the webcam was taken down last year after two chicks were witnessed dying after a suspected poisoning.
Watchers have been sitting nervously, keeping track of the falcons who are trying their best to incubate the eggs on top of the 33-storey 367 Collins St skyscraper.
Talking to ABC News, Birdlife Australia volunteer Dr Victor Hurley discussed why he believes the dead chicks didn’t get past the point of infancy.
Mr Hurley said they’d had trouble with adult falcons catching pigeons who had ingested bird deterrent-type chemicals which have been known to be used to eradicate feral pigeons in the city.
‘The peregrines feed almost exclusively on other birds, so they see this pigeon lame and they pick it up and it’s covered in this fairly caustic gel which the peregrines then ingest themselves,’ he said.
Birdwatchers in Melbourne are ecstatic at the news of four eggs being laid by a peregrine falcon after two of its chicks tragically dying last year after feeding off a poisoned pigeon
– Peregrine Falcons live in several of Australian major cities, nesting on ledges of skyscrapers.
– They feed on small and medium-sized birds, as well as rabbits and other day-active mammals.
– Peregrines swoop onto their prey at speeds of up to 300km/h, which has inherent dangers, as they occasionally collide with overhead wires, usually fatal at such speeds.
– Rather than building a nest, they lay their eggs in recesses of cliff faces, tree hollows or in the large abandoned nests of other birds. The female incubates the eggs and is fed by the male on the nest.
The tragedy was made more potent after Dr Hurley claimed he had been told by Melbourne City Council that these chemicals were illegal in the city boundaries but peregrine falcons were known to hunt up to 10kilometres from the nest.
While it is currently unclear whether the two falcons seen on webcam are the same from last year, Dr Hurley says they look remarkably similar.
‘You’ve probably got a pair surviving at a site, on average, maybe three to four years, and then one of them dies and they get replaced, or another one comes in and kills the resident and takes over,’ Dr Hurley said.
The falcons have generated so much discussion that a dedicated Facebook page has been set up, named the 367 Collins Falcon Watchers.
It’s founder, Leigh Stillard, who started the page to support the work of the Victorian Peregrine Project, believes that the more people watch the footage and post images the more awareness and knowledge on how to treat this ‘remarkable creature’ can be told.
The falcon and its eggs can be watched on a live-stream from on top of 367 Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD
‘We hope one day we will see many more bird of prey families living in the Melbourne CBD,’ he said.
According to Dr Hurley, if the falcons continue to incubate undistracted the recently laid eggs should hatch in around 30 days.
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