Eggspecting & The Uneggspected

Sunrise at the Jersey City Falcon Cam
A New Day, perhaps in more ways than one, at the Jersey City Falcon Cam

Some of you may be following along with the action at the Jersey City Falcom Cam. Or, more correctly, the lack of said “action”. As a part-time, amateur, volunteer cam operator I’ve been on pins-n-needles hoping to get that one big shot: the egg shot. But Beatrice, the Grande Matriarch of the Jersey City Falcon Cam is late. So much so, the Internet is abuzz with rumor that she might be infertile. While her true identity is still unknown after 14 years of not being able to read all of the numbers on her banded leg, it is pretty certain she is a Pennsylvania Princess and a ripe 19 years of age. After 14 seasons of laying eggs on camera, could she finally be done?

Grande Matriarch Beatrice: More Seasons Than Seinfeld
Grande Matriarch Beatrice: More Seasons Than Seinfeld

If it turns out to be the start of a new era for Bea, it certainly won’t be for lack of trying. Beatrice & her dutiful mate Dante certainly are acting like they want eggs. As Kathy Clarke from NJ Fish & Wildlife puts it, “6/2 would have those eggs if he could!” (Note: “6/2” is actually Dante. Professional wildlife people refer to birds by their bands for intelligent & practical reasons, but miss out on all the fun us regular folk get to have naming, ascribing human traits, and most importantly, creating voices for the animals.)

Dante, fixing up the "scrape" nest. He is in that nest box more than she is on most days. Super Husband: Super Dad.
Dante, fixing up the “scrape” nest. He is in that nest box more than she is on most days. Super Husband: Super Dad.

Heck, Dante has even taken to trying to re-fertilizer her over the last few days (No Pics. That’s rude.). Point is, all this is making for some un-egg-spected drama. The harder they try, the sadder it is. It’s tough not to wonder what their little bird brains think about all this. Most nights you can catch Beatrice climbing into the nest box around dusk, waiting for that little egg that might never be coming. She eventually gives up and calls it quits, climbing to her perch, falling asleep, and leaving only a creepy shadow in the nest, which I like to call “Peregrine Cam Nosferatu”

Peregrine Cam Nosferatu. The shadow of our mortality.
Peregrine Cam Nosferatu. The shadow of our mortality.

With all that background, we can get on with the point of this post. I was spending some QCT (Quality Cam Time) with Bea, and went to the fridge to get a Chobani (Black Cherry). Upon my return I was murderballed by this:

image of peregrine falcon lying down
Yikes is an understatement

Our Grande Matriarch Beatrice was writhing around on the roof, looking skyward with panic, panting like a dog, and appearing as if she was about to die before our eyes. As a person, it was devastating to watch. As an amateur, part-time, volunteer cam operator it was confusing as I quickly realized my training did not include a death protocol. Was I supposed to pan the camera away, or zoom in? All I could see were the faces of horrified kids in NJ watching Bea die while they were tuned in at school.

And then she got up
And then she got up

Then she got up. Relieved beyond belief, I was also overwhelmed as I now needed to send 653 follow up emails to all the people I had written to in panic, saying stuff like “Ooops, not dying, my bad EOM”

So what possibly could have happened to her in the time it takes to get a Black Cherry Chobani from the fridge? The best guess was that she was knocked off the roof by another Peregrine. They are quite territorial at these nest sites. Maybe knocked off and stunned and injured. Whatever the case, Dante came home, then they flew off together probably to eat bird.

A little later they returned and Dante dutifully took is spot in the nest box as he always does, pushing stones around, and generally trying to get everything “just right” for the egg, perhaps working on the baby’s room as a way of easing the anxiety of expecting. But then he did something un-egg-spected.

Let's see....
Let’s see….

Dante hopped down onto the roof and started walking. I of course followed along, as watching Peregrine walk is more comical than watching Penguins.

Ahhhhhh, yeah....
Ahhhhhh, yeah….

I watched along in disbelief as Dante spread out on the roof, looking every bit the injured bird that Beatrice had looked earlier. Within seconds he started panting like a madman and looking skyward nervously.

Halp? I don’t think so.

Lacking a quick explanation, a little creative Googling turned up this.

Sunbathing. Could it be? Yes, it could. With all the free time on their hands, they are doing exactly what we might do on the first hot day of spring: Sunbathing.

I think these birds need an egg.

So what’s next? Will Beatrice lay the egg and put the rumors to rest? Or is she done filling the skies of Jersey City with baby falcons? Will Dante leave her for a younger girl? Will a battle ensue? Will they foster an egg from another nest? Or will they enjoy the summer sunbathing on the roof? It is all very uneggspected and making for a most interesting season at the Jersey City Falcon Cam.

Tune in to the daily drama unfolding at the Jersey City Falcon Cam. It’s getting eggciting as we move into uneggspected territory.

And don’t forget to check out our Snowy Owl Stuffed Animals at Unreal!Birds! 20% of all proceeds go directly to support the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and hence, the Falcon Cam.

UPDATE: An Egg has been delivered! Click here for video.