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Peregrine Falcon Webcam - Albany-Rensselaer, NY

Peregrine Falcons Nesting in the State Capital

Albany's Peregrines

A picture of a peregrine falcon flying over the Hudson River
Peregrine Falcon flying over the Hudson River

Albany, the state's capital, is fortunate to have a pair of endangered Peregrine Falcons nesting on the Dunn Memorial Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between the Cities of Albany and Rensselaer, NY.

The falcons have been observed in the area throughout the winter of 2008-2009. Since 1998, 29 young Peregrine Falcons have been raised on the bridge. Four young are known to have died shortly after fledging.

Peregrine Decline and Recovery

Peregrines are crow-sized birds, brown when young and slate gray when adult, with a distinctive single dark cheek patch. As recently as 50 years ago, Peregrine Falcons occupied as many as 40 eyries in the state, typically on high, inaccessible cliffs or on tall buildings in New York City. In the Capital Region, Peregrines were reported using the Helderbergs through at least the 1930's. However, widespread use of the pesticide DDT caused severe reproductive problems resulting in a population crash in New York and throughout the Northeast. By the early 1960's, Peregrines had disappeared from the state as nesting birds.

Hopes that Peregrines could be reestablished in the Northeast were raised in the 1970's when The Peregrine Fund (see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" at right) developed an intensive captive-breeding program and successfully bred large numbers of falcons. Using a technique called "hacking," staff of the Peregrine Fund, DEC and volunteers released captive-raised birds to the wild. From 1974 through 1988, nearly 160 Peregrines were released at sites from New York City north to the Adirondacks.

Peregrines in the Capital Region

A total of 15 Peregrines were "hacked" from 1985 to 1987 at the Agency Building 2 of the Empire State Plaza. Released birds soon began breeding on their own, producing a new generation of wild-raised Peregrines. The Peregrine Falcon returned to New York State as a breeding bird in 1983 when two nests were discovered on New York City bridges. In 1985, nesting pairs returned to two Adirondack cliffs. Each year since 2000, there have been more than 40 breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons in New York State.

DEC staff has been hoping for the return of Peregrines to the Capital Region for many years. A nest box placed by wildlife biologists on the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany in 1994 did not attract a nesting pair, though one and rarely two birds have periodically been observed around Albany.

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