Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Bird Webcams

DEC's active webcam features nesting Peregrine Falcons, an endangered species in New York. The webcam generally operates from early spring to early summer until the young birds fledge from the nest.

In the right column of this page you'll find links to other webcams located in New York State and elsewhere around the world. To watch nesting peregrines before daylight in the eastern United States try visiting the Derby Cathedral webcam in Derby, Derbyshire, UK. Daylight comes five hours earlier in England than in New York.

Peregrine Falcon Decline and Recovery

Peregrines are crow-sized birds, brown when young and slate gray as adults, with a distinctive single dark cheek patch. As recently as 50 years ago, peregrine falcons occupied as many as 40 eyries in the state. They were 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 1930s. However, widespread use of the pesticide DDT caused severe reproductive problems. This resulted in a population crash in New York and throughout the Northeast. By the early 1960s, peregrines had disappeared from the state as nesting birds.

Hopes that peregrines could be reestablished in the Northeast were raised in the 1970s when The Peregrine Fund (link leaves DEC website) developed an intensive captive-breeding program and successfully bred large numbers of falcons. Using a technique called "hacking," staff from 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 to the Adirondacks.

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.

Peregrines in the Capital Region

A nest box placed by wildlife biologists on the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany in 1994 did not attract a nesting pair. However, birds began nesting at a nest box placed on the Dunn Memorial Bridge in 2000. They have continued nesting their every year since.

A web camera and transmitter equipment was installed on the bridge by a contractor in February-March 2000. However, the web camera is no longer in operation. Peregrine falcons do continue to use the bridge for nesting and are monitored annually for breeding and breeding success.

Watchable Wildlife - Where to View Nesting Peregrine Falcons

Visit the Rensselaer Riverfront Park (link leaves DEC website) on Broadway in the City of Rensselaer to view the falcons. From this vantage point you can watch the adults as they hunt for prey and defend their nesting territory. Once prey is caught it is either consumed immediately by the adults, brought back to the nest box to feed young, or cached (stored) for later consumption. You may also observe the young falcons once they venture out of the nest box onto the top of the concrete bridge pier. They feed, loaf, and exercise their wing muscles in preparation for the first flight.

A kiosk at the park contains information about the falcons, as well as other Watchable Wildlife opportunities in the region. Bring along a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope for optimal viewing opportunities.


More about Bird Webcams: