Harrisburg’s Peregrine Falcons Tell Story Via Social Media

February 16, 2010

Twitter, Online Video Stream Helping More Fans Worldwide Follow Mating Progress

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Although the Peregrine falcons that have nested atop Harrisburg’s Rachel Carson State Office Building for most of the past decade aren’t known for “tweeting,” fans of the pair will be able to follow their story this year on Twitter.

Use of the popular social networking site is in addition to the annual online video stream that went live today on the Department of Environmental Protection’s Web site.

Many fans questioned whether the pair would mate this year after the male was tardy in his return, but the allure of being with his partner this Valentine’s Day proved too great, according to DEP’s environmental education director Jack Farster.

“We were concerned that this year’s nesting season might be in jeopardy when we had not seen the male Peregrine falcon at the nest in several weeks,” said Farster. “Just in time for Valentine’s Day, though, he returned to the nest on Feb. 4, so we’re optimistic the pair will soon produce yet another round of offspring.”

Fans can follow the falcons’ progress at www.twitter.com/FalconChatter, or by clicking on the Falcon Cam button on www.depweb.state.pa.us.

“Each year, people from around the world contact us with their stories and comments about the falcons,” Farster said. “Now they will have an online forum to discuss their sightings, observations and thoughts about these Peregrines who are the world’s fastest flying birds.”

This will be the sixth year this pair of falcons has nested at the Rachel Carson building. The female has laid eggs here since 2000 with two different males; the second arrived in Harrisburg in 2005 after the first male was discovered injured the previous year.

For the last several years, the female falcon has produced a “clutch” of five eggs. She typically begins laying eggs during March. The eggs hatch around Mother’s Day, and the young falcons begin to “fledge,” or take their first flights around Father’s Day.

While their numbers are increasing, Peregrine falcons remain an endangered species in Pennsylvania with 21 pairs having successfully bred in 2009. Around 1960, Peregrines disappeared from Pennsylvania due to the use of the insecticide DDT. Peregrines ingested the insecticide by eating contaminated prey, which caused them to lay eggs with thin and fragile shells that broke when the birds sat on them. DDT also caused changes in the falcon’s hormonal cycles, which created breeding problems and physical illnesses that rendered them unable to hunt.

Nationally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird from its list of endangered and threatened species in 1999.

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Falcon.

Media contact: Susan Rickens, 717-787-1323

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Source: newswire

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