Air Conditioning Planned For Phoenix Peregrine Falcon Nesting Box

By Kerry Fehr-Snyder
Published: Monday, February 6, 2017 - 7:05am
Updated: Monday, February 13, 2017 - 3:26pm
(Photo courtesy of Randy Babb - Arizona Game and Fish Department)
A female peregrine falcon hangs out in the box in early February 2017.

If any peregrine falcons decide to take up residence in the nesting box above downtown Phoenix this season, they could be in for a cool surprise.

Arizona Game and Fish Department wants to add air conditioning to the box atop a Maricopa County building at Third Avenue and Washington Street. The air-conditioning unit is pending approval.

“We don’t anticipate there being any problem [with approval],” said Randy Babb, Arizona Game and Fish Department’s watchable wildlife manager.

The department is modifing the falcon nesting box in hopes of preventing a repeat of last season in which the only chick that hatched fell out of the nest and later died. It also was believed to be too hot for the chick, known as an eyass.

Officials temporarily turned off the live camera feed of the falcons’ comings and goings after the accident in mid-May. Babb said workers expect to turn the camera, which was upgraded in 2016, back on in the next few weeks.

“We are very excited for this,” he said. “It’s like a soap opera, right?”

Babb was referring to whether the male and female will successfully breed and whether any eggs laid will hatch.

Officials have been consulting with peregrine falcon experts to determine the best way to assure a successful breeding season, which usually begins in late March. Breeding pairs have been using the box on the county building for about a decade, but only two birds have ever survived to the age of fledgling, according to Game and Fish.

Among changes workers have made is adding caulk inside the nesting box and lowering its lip so it is closer to the edge to help the chicks enter and exit. It also plans to add an air-conditioning system to the outside of the box.

The peregrine cam in Phoenix is one of two livestream cameras maintained by Game and Fish. A webam of sandhill cranes in southern Arizona typically runs from October through March or early April.

Babb said the peregrine livestream has drawn interest from many viewers.

“We hear more from the peregrine cam than the cranes cam,” Babb said. “Everybody is super engaged.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The headline and story have been updated to clarify the status of the air-conditioning unit.