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The Journal of Rfalconcam

Rochester Falcons 25th Anniversary! 1998 to 2023!

2023 marks the 25th anniversary of peregrine falcons nesting in Downtown Rochester!

In 1998 a trio of enterprising Kodak employees– Kenn Martinez, Brad Carney and Matt Bernius– placed a video camera on the steeple of the company’s headquarters in Rochester, NY, aimed it at a falcon nest box, and connected it to the Internet. The stars of their new website– the Kodak Birdcam– were a pair of peregrine falcons, the fastest animals on the planet. To honor their legacy as masters of the air, the falcons were given wind-themed names by the Kodak Birdcam team. Mariah, for the female, after Kodak founder George Eastman’s mother and the 1951 Lerner and Lowe song “They Call The Wind Mariah.” Cabot-Sirocco, the male, was hatched in Toronto and named Cabot by the folks at the Canadian Peregrine Foundation (in honor of the French explorer of the same name). Kodak named him Sirocco (a dry desert wind), and his US & Canadian names were combined as “Cabot-Sirocco.”

In 2002 a new male joined Mariah when Cabot-Sirocco failed to return that spring. A high resolution digital camera, installed only weeks before, revealed that this new tiercel, or male falcon, wore no identification bands on his legs, unlike Cabot-Sirocco. The new arrival was named Kaver, after a gentle breeze that blows in the Hebrides islands near Scotland.

From its earliest days, Kodak and the Genesee Valley Audubon Society had worked together to make the Birdcam a success. Sponsored by GVAS, the annual Fledge Watch has provided a cadre of dedicated volunteers to monitor and report on the young falcons as they leave the safety of the nest box and take their first wobbly flights. Fledge Watch participants have documented the early lives of fledgling falcons on an unprecedented scale, and their diligence has paid off more than once. Over the years the GVAS Fledge Watch has rescued at least six fledglings.

GVAS also partnered with the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Migration Research Foundation to expand our knowledge of the dispersal patterns of urban-raised peregrines.

In the summer of 2006, Kodak reached out to GVAS once more. Recognizing its long commitment to the Birdcam program and its many conservation efforts, the company agreed to migrate primary responsibility for the Birdcam program to GVAS, and the program was renamed Rochester Falconcam (Rfalconcam). We at Rfalconcam were honored by Kodak’s decision and delighted to bring the adventure of Rochester’s own peregrine falcons to the rest of the world.

In 2008 after lengthy consultations with the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Kodak decided to move the nest box that had sheltered Mariah and her family for eleven years. The decision was made so that Kodak could undertake a multi-year project to repair the crumbling terra cotta facade on the Kodak tower. The nest box was installed a short distance away on the historic Powers Building in downtown Rochester. To enhance the chance of a successful transition for the falcons, GVAS installed another nest box one block away from the first, on the Times Square building at the corner of Exchange and Broad Streets. Cameras at each location allowed viewers to keep watch for Mariah to find her new home.

2009 brought many changes. Kaver failed to return from his winter travels. Mariah attracted a total of three potential mates, the last, it turned out, her own grandson! Even stranger events were to come though, as a new, younger female came into the territory. Together these two new falcons engaged Mariah in a territory battle that left her with serious injuries and ultimately drove her from her long-time territory. Rescued by GVAS Falcon Watch volunteers after the two-day battle, Mariah spent six weeks recovering from her wounds. She found her way back to Rochester only one day after being released, demonstrating her intense attachment to the area.

The new pair, Archer (hatched in 2006 to Mariah’s son Freedom) and Beauty (hatched in 2007 in Pittsburgh, PA) eventually settled at the Times Square nest box after a failed attempt to nest on the Midtown Plaza tower. Mariah kept to various perches near the High Falls gorge until mid-summer, when she moved north to Kodak Park before disappearing in October.

Archer and Beauty produced two offspring in 2010 but none in 2011. Archer was displaced by another male, Dot.ca, (hatched in 2010 in Etobicoke) in 2012. In early 2022, we lost Dot.ca and Beauty.

That summer, an unbanded pair of falcons had found their way to Rochester and raised 3 eyases at the Times Square nest box.

GVAS is committed to following the activities of our latest pair, Nova and Neander, as well as monitoring other falcons showing interest in the Rochester area. Hopes are high that a second pair will be able to establish a new nest and territory in the city.

5 Responses to “Rochester Falcons 25th Anniversary! 1998 to 2023!”

  1. Kat Nagel Says:

    I seem to remember another female named Unity between Mariah and Beauty.

  2. Carol P. Says:

    Unity came in after Beauty. We believe that she and Beauty had a territorial battle in which Beauty was injured very badly and went to rehab. Unity started with Archer. Archer was was badly injured and she took care of him, bringing him food. He left and Dot.ca came in, we believe with Pigott who mostly hung around near downtown Rochester on the outskirts. Unity and Dot.ca became a pair and she laid an egg in the TSB nest box. Unity was hit by a car and killed. That evening a Beauty returned to the TSB. Dot.ca probably never knew what happened to Unity and there was no way he was going to accept Beauty, at least in the beginning. He swooped on her for a long time, before finally accepting her as his mate. It took awhile, but eventually Beauty and Dot.ca became quite a pair, raising many young in the TSB nest box! In case you were wondering, Beauty incubated Unity’s egg, but it didn’t hatch. Pigott ended up moving to Syracuse, finding a mate there and raising her own young. I believe she is still there. At least that’s how I remember it. lol

  3. Carol P. Says:

    Oh, and when Beauty did return after her rehab, Dot.ca had no idea that the TSB nest box was hers before Unity took over. The watchers were downtown mourning the loss of Unity when a very badly injured Beauty returned. We were stunned!
    The watchers have so many stories to tell, happy and sad. 🙂

  4. Shaky Says:

    Details of Rochester’s peregrine falcon history can be found on this page:


  5. Alison in Indiana Says:

    I think I have been watching for over two decades and it has been a wonderful experience. It was especially nice to make in-person contact with falcon fans in Europe (as I started out when i was living in Austria), especially Aafke in the Netherlands and Baerbel (then a Kodak employee) in Germany. We had those cameras covered practically around the clock. Those of us who were only cyberbirders called themselves the Bathrobe Brigade, a phrase only I still use regularly, although Shaky’s picture still shows him in that garb.
    I wish to express my thanks to all the volunteers who have stuck with the project for years and years, Among them Shakymon, Carol Pefa, Dumpsterkitty, FalconFlyer, Granny Wood (now a rejuvenated Auntie Wood) as well as June and the stalwarts at GVAS.
    I think back fondly on the early, educational discussions with people who have moved on, like Lord Garavin, Siobahn, the Canadian Peregrine Foundation employee and species migration expert, whose name I cannot recall now, who made the lovely peregrine development chart using images from the Kodak Birdcam: http://peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

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