After a relatively mild winter, Merri and Lance are getting ready to start a new family. Merri is now spending more time around and inside the nest box, so we can expect to see the first egg real soon. Stay tuned and keep checking the nest box cameras.
Merri can lay up to four eggs per season. Last year, Merri and Lance hatched and raised four chicks — two girls and two boys — and all of them successfully fledged and left Fox Hall to find their own territories and mates. In fact, one of the females, nicknamed “Jane,” was spotted and photographed in Cape May, N.J., some 400 miles from the UMass Lowell campus!
Imelda Joson, an avid falcon watcher and photographer who has been monitoring the falcons at Fox Hall almost daily since the spring of 2014, reports that Lance is now blind in one eye. She first noticed Lance’s injury last summer — she would always see him perched near the nest or on the ledges of building with his right eye half-shut. Today, the eyeball looks completely gone (see Imelda’s cellphone photos taken through a spotting scope).
“Lance seems perfectly fine, despite his eye injury,” says Joson. “His other eye appears to be alright”.
According to Tom French of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, so long as Lance looks healthy and is able to fly, hunt and feed himself, he should be OK and there’s no need to intervene.
Helping Joson in monitoring the birds is a new volunteer, Sabrina Pedersen, who is a senior majoring in biology with an option in ecology. She is also the president of the Evolution & Ecology Club at UMass Lowell. The two have been taking turns in keeping a watchful eye on Merri and Lance throughout this past winter.
In December, Joson and Pedersen observed a third bird — an adult falcon, probably a male — hanging around Fox Hall.
“We’re not sure if Merri and Lance know the intruder — they are shooing him away from the nest, but they are not very aggressive toward him,” notes Joson. “Even up to now, we see the intruder once in a while at Fox Hall, roosting on the window ledges at night, not too far from where Merri and Lance are sleeping. But we never see him during the day. He probably hangs out in a different building on campus or in downtown Lowell.”
Stay tuned for more updates. Keep watching!
ATTENTION: Teachers, students, parents and friends! Are you or someone you know using the falcon nest-cams as a teaching tool in the classroom? We’d love to hear about it. Please e-mail us your comments and photos.