Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), a nonprofit ecological research group based in Portland, Maine, conducts innovative wildlife science worldwide.
BRI’s Center for Mercury Studies plays a lead scientific role in understanding the exposure and effects of mercury on wildlife in New England, North America, and around the world. The Center for Waterbird Studies is dedicated to assessing current and emerging threats to waterbirds. The programs in our Center for Ecology and Conservation Research aim to understand the workings of wildlife and their habitats while exploring how ecological stressors affect different species and ecosystems.
Below is an archive of our news releases. For more information on any of these topics, please contact our communications department.
Communications Director: Deborah McKew
Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) announced today that its webcam has captured a peregrine falcon laying its first egg of the season; the egg was dropped in the early morning on Friday, March 16.
Visitors to BRI's website, www.briloon.org, can watch the daily nesting activities of this pair of falcons in a 24-hour live feed that is offered to the public free of charge in partnership with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), the Maine Department of Transportation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Members of BRI's online community have been eagerly awaiting this first egg and were the first to document it," says Patrick Keenan, BRI's outreach director and coordinator of the webcam program. "We can expect additional eggs over the coming days and then expect eggs to hatch in about 34 days." This is the fourth year of peregrine falcons nesting with nesting activities documented by BRI's webcam.
Two cameras, remotely deployed and equipped with low light color vision, provide two different perspectives of the nest—called a scrape because the falcon does not actually build a nest, but rather digs a depression in the gravel found on a high ledge, usually a cliff. These birds have adapted to human development by taking advantage of tall man-made structures such as skyscrapers, water towers, or bridges for nesting spots.
"The peregrine falcon is the poster child for raptor conservation," says wildlife research biologist Christopher DeSorbo, director of BRI's raptor program. "Peregrine populations nationwide plummeted due to environmental contaminants like DDT. Through the banning of DDT and reintroduction efforts, these birds are again breeding throughout the New England region. Peregrines helped us detect a crisis that had serious implications on both wildlife and human health. This is one of the reasons it is important to monitor raptor populations. Because they sit at the top of the food web, raptors serve as key indicators that can be used to detect environmental and ecological imbalance."
The federal government removed the peregrine falcon from its endangered species list in 1999. Although this species has successfully responded to national conservation efforts, peregrine falcons remain on Maine's endangered species list; there are only 24 known pairs of peregrine falcons in the state, according to the MDIFW.
Peregrine falcons, known for their aerial acrobatics, are the fastest flying birds in the world; they can dive and catch prey in midair at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The male, who prepares the nest for roosting, also courts its mate with elaborate aerial displays around the nesting site. These falcons breed in the same territory each year. An average clutch of four eggs is laid in early spring, hatching about a month later. Peregrines have been known to live up to 20 years.
BRI's webcam program began in 2003 as a research tool to monitor the nest of the common loon, which at the time was one of the primary bird species being studied at the Institute. Since then, BRI has installed additional webcams to monitor the nesting activities of ospreys, eagles, and falcons.
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