University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Greg Walz-Chojnacki

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Jun 2, 2010 
Falcons thrive on UWM campus
Falcons at UWM
Feeding time! This image was captured by UWM's falcon webcam on May 21.

For the second straight year, a pair of nesting falcons have made their home and produced four chicks in a nesting box on the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee campus.

Falcons at UWM
This image, taken on May 30, shows the rapid growth of the eyas. The dark areas are the first of the chicks' flight feathers.

The box, high atop the Engineering and Mathematical Sciences building, was installed in 2008 at the urging of Greg Septon of the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program. Septon came to band the new falcons on June 1. (Watch a video of the banding.)

Thomas Schuck, a laboratory manager in the Department of Biological Sciences, suspects that the female of the current nesting pair successfully hatched four chicks or eyas (EYE-iss) with another male last year. However, that bird is not banded, so the identification is uncertain. Last year’s male was banded and discovered with a broken wing in Texas. It was successfully treated but the wing may be too damaged to allow the falcon to be released into the wild.

The current clutch of four eggs was laid between March 29 and April, and began to hatch on May 6. The nest activities are thoroughly documented on a web site operated by Schuck. The site includes a real-time webcam and an extensive archive of  time-lapse movies of the nest.

The chicks have been named after prominent scientists:

  • Aldo Leopold : Forester, Wildlife Ecologist, and Writer (1888-1948)
  • John T. Curtis : The collective efforts of Curtis and the thirty-nine Ph.D. students that he managed to supervise during his relatively short career, resulted in the work ‘’’The Vegetation of Wisconsin: An Ordination of Plant Communities, published 1959. 
  • Marie Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) : Physicist and chemist of Polish upbringing and subsequent French citizenship.
  • Lynn Margulis : American biologist at the University of Massachusetts known for her work on the origin of the eukaryotic organelles.

The falcon nest and website is a cooperative effort between a number of UWM departments, including Biological Sciences, University Information Technology Services, and Physical Plant Services.

UWM Falcons
One of the falcons keeps a close watch on the proceedings.