The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Salutes International Migratory Bird Day

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern

By STEPHANIE HYLINSKI

On Saturday, May 13, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery will be celebrating International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). IMBD was established in 2000 to raise awareness about migratory birds and to encourage people to help protect their habitats. International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated across the Western Hemisphere since many birds move between North and South America.Migration is the seasonal movement of animals from one area to another, and birds migrate to find better resources. Migration occurs on a large scale; all or most of the birds living in the area move as a flock. Of the more than 650 species of birds that breed in North America, more than half are migratory.

Birds migrate to find better food and nesting sites. Birds that live and breed in the Northern Hemisphere move south for the winter. Winters in the Northern Hemisphere are cold and there are not many sources of food available; like seeds, fruits, and insects.

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Bird-watching at the Boonshoft

Birds migrate south to escape the cold and find better food resources, and then return to the north to breed. Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of growing insect populations, budding plants, and an abundance of nesting locations. Also, because of the earth’s tilt, days are longer in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer. Longer daylight hours mean that the birds can spend more time searching for food and feeding their chicks.

Not all birds migrate. For example, you probably see cardinals in your backyard in the summer and during the winter. Some birds migrate short distances, like moving across states. Around 350 bird species that live in North America migrate from the United States and Canada to wintering grounds in Central and South America.

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Migratory Birds In Winter

The Arctic tern is famous for its migration; it flies from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year, which means they fly about 40,000 miles every year. The long journey ensures that this bird sees two summers per year and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. The average Arctic tern lives about thirty years, and will travel 1.5 million miles during its lifetime, the equivalent of a round trip from Earth to the moon over three times!

For more information on International Migratory Bird Day, check out http://www.birdday.org/.

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Falcon Cam Update – May 1, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

Moisture has entered the second camera creating a fogged image.  The camera was unable to withstand the harsh weather conditions we ‘ve had this spring because it does not have the additional plexiglass housing around it like the permanent camera on the nest box does.

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Fogged Falcon Cam Image

Last week we attempted to repair the camera but the female falcon fiercely defended her territory making it unsafe to spend any amount of time on the roof to do repairs.  The location she chose to lay her eggs, on the ledge below the roof, is making it difficult to get a good view of the chicks but at this time we believe the chicks are continuing to do well.

Because the camera view is now completely fogged and we are unable to replace the camera due to safety concerns, the FalconCam live stream will be shut off for the 2017 season.  If any notable information becomes available on the falcons it will be posted at this site.

Falcon Cam Update – April 21, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

The falcon eggs hatched!

On Saturday, April 15, egg shells could be seen on the ledge, but the female spent almost all her time on the nest preventing a view of what was beneath her. By Wednesday, we were able to get a good view of the chicks and all four eggs have successfully hatched!

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Falcon Shells to the Side

The chicks seem to be doing well, and both parents have been very attentive, feeding and keeping the chicks warm.  When they are not able to be seen they are safely tucked under the female.  She broods the chicks, keeping them warm with her body until they are about a week old and they can maintain the correct body temperature on their own

She has special featherless brooding patches that allow the warm skin of her body to press right up against the chicks and keep them warm.  This behavior is easy to see from above.  It looks like she is wiggling quickly back and forth, but she is snuggling her brooding patches down on the chicks.

Falcon Cam Update April 11, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

The falcons continue to incubate their eggs on the ledge on the south side of the Liberty Tower away from the nesting box provided for

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The new camera setup was quick so the falcons would be disturbed as little as possible.

them with the camera attached.  The ledge is one of two on the southeast corner of the building.

On April 11, a new camera was placed on the roof so the health of the falcon family could be monitored. As soon as there was a human presence on the roof, the falcons vigorously defended the nest indicating immediately that the nest was likely still viable.

With a quick peek over the ledge eggs could be seen as the female dive bombed and an umbrella was used as cover from her sharp talons.

We worked quickly to get the camera in place as we knew it was a small victory that the eggs were still present with no cover from above. Since the eggs were laid temperature

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The falcons’ new view from the south side of the building.

fluctuations have been extreme, and the female has had to tolerate high winds, torrential rains, and even hail.

The eggs were first discovered on the ledge on March 24, and the earliest date the falcons have ever laid eggs at the Liberty Tower is March 17.  Incubation usually starts a few days after the first eggs are laid so incubation likely began somewhere around March 20 to March 24.  With an incubation period of 29 to 32 days, hatching could occur starting April 17.

Geek Chic Arrives at the Boonshoft Museum – Nerd Invasion Imminent!

Embrace your inner geek at GeekFest 2017! As most of the planet has become more technology-oriented, geek culture is on the rise internationally. The designation “geek” itself has changed over the years and is often considered a badge of honor these days. That’s a far cry from the more original connotation of “a peculiar person interested in off-beat topics, focused only on brainy pursuits.” The term is now used in a more positive manner, describing individuals with wide-ranging intellectual curiosity.

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Members of the 501st Legion strike a pose at GeekFest 2016.

In its third year, GeekFest is a must for gamers, Trekkies, steampunkers, cosplayers, and nerds! The diverse universe of geeks will enjoy an evening of costume contests, board games, hands-on experiments, and trivia in the Planetarium with prizes and activities for the whole family.

This year GeekFest will host informative Panels featuring local experts discussing a variety of subjects, like working in the game industry, funding a Kickstarter, and more. And what assembly of geeks would be complete without its own Van De Graaf Generator to greet guests in the front lobby to begin their trek with a hair-raising experience?

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For some, the old Pin-Ball machine is as fun as ever.

Planets of the Empire is an exciting new planetarium show like no other, where the audience travels to Star Wars planets like Hoth and Tatoonie for exploration. Play a Jeopardy-like trivia game called Geek Jeopardy, created for up to 150 people to share their knowledge on topics ranging from Harry Potter to science fiction shows, movies books, and more. For younger geeks, Monster Attack and Minecraft creations await their imagination at the Lego table.

On hand will be local comic book stores and unique local talent showcasing their products, including everything from chain mail to custom-made lightsabers. We have not forgotten food; grab a tasty snack at the McNasty’s food truck, have some delicious ice cream at Maggie Moo’s, or experience Cone Zone Cotton Candy.

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GeekFest Cosplayer in full regalia.

Other Special Events for GeekFest 2017 guests include:

  • Beat the Geek – NEW for 2017! This reverse trivia experience will allow the audience to stump local trivia experts
  • Costume Contest – NEW format will involve a parade through the museum, with judging taking place throughout the evening!
  • DIY Photobooth – Raspberry Pi-powered photo booth, hosted by Make It Dayton
  • Arcade – Hosted by Doug’s Arcade and Gaming Adventures
  • Star Wars Room – The Museum’s Science On a Sphere exhibit will be transformed with appearances from the local chapter of the 501st and other surprises
  • Orc and Pie, the 5 minute D&D experience is back by popular demand
  • Tabletop Gaming – Hosted by D20: A Bar With Characters, the new gaming bar in Kettering
  • Themed items from the Museum’s collection, featuring our resident Anthropologist/Mother of Dragons

Admission to GeekFest is $10 for geeks of all ages, and tickets can be purchased online or at the door. All proceeds from general admission support year-round astronomy education at the Museum. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for those who purchase tickets online. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for day-of-ticket sales. Vendors will be on-site, and food will be available for purchase. All ages welcome; under 17 cannot be admitted without a parent.

Falcon Cam Update – March 30, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

Surprise! The female falcon laid her eggs out of view on a ledge located on the southeast side of the building.  The falcons had been visiting the nest box during the first two weeks of March and even built a scrape, a loosely constructed nest, but ultimately chose a different location to lay their eggs.  Four eggs were noticed on this ledge on March 24.

The earliest date eggs have been laid in the past was March 17 so all eyes were on the nest box starting on this date.  During this time the falcons were mysteriously absent in the box but still present around the Liberty Savings Tower.

Upon further inspection of the building, the eggs were found on a ledge on the side of the building that can only be reached by rappelling down from the roof.  The eggs seem to be in good condition and the falcons are tending to the eggs.  The falcons have laid eggs on this type of ledge before but unfortunately, a lack of protection from the weather caused the eggs to fail on the ledge in 2011.

A drain is present on the ledge to remove rainwater but there is no protection from the weather from the top like there is in the nest box.  We are in the process of attempting to point a camera down on the nest so the eggs can be monitored with little disturbance to the nest.  Check back for updates on the falcons and their eggs.

FalconCam 2017

By LIZ TOTH

Did you know that the fastest animal on earth lives in downtown Dayton?  The peregrine falcon is able to fly at speeds over 200mph making it the fastest animal on earth!

The FalconCam provides an up close view, from hatching to fledging, of Dayton’s family of peregrine falcons.  From the first glimpses of the fluffy white chicks as they pip out of the egg to the drama of their first flights from the 23rd floor of the Liberty Savings Tower we get an insider’s view on the behavior of this fascinating bird.  Over the years the Boonshoft FalconCam has allowed the viewers to learn the details of family life that were previously unseen.  Watching the mother as she tears a freshly caught bird and puts it into the gaping beak of her young chick gives new meaning to the word “breakfast”.  While we enjoy watching the daily activities of the birds this information is being put to scientific use.  As soon as the eggs are laid biologists know that the pair is in good health and can get a count on the number of eggs.  2017 is the 16th year of the Boonshoft FalconCam.  The season started with wildlife biologists cleaning the nestbox in February and checking to be sure it is secure, stable and ready for the falcon pair.  One of the falcons was nearby and swooped and called loudly to show its displeasure of humans in its territory.  Because the falcon was moving so fast it could not be identified as having leg bands or not.
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Now that nesting season is underway little to no human presence is ideal near the nestbox. The door leading to the roof of the Liberty Savings Tower has a sign that is a reminder that the birds need privacy while nesting.

Peregrine falcons were added to the list of federally endangered species in 1970.  They became endangered through the use of a pesticide called DDT that thinned the shells of their eggs preventing them from hatching and a dangerous decline in the population.  Wildlife biologists have worked hard to increase the number of peregrine falcons and in Ohio the peregrine was removed from the list of state endangered species in 2015.  The recovery of the peregrine population has been a success but biologists must continue to carefully monitor the population.  The Dayton nest has been selected as one of the Ohio nests that will continue to be monitored.  Data collected from the FalconCam includes the continued presence of the pair, the number of eggs laid, the number of eggs that hatch and the number of chicks that fledge.  The continued monitoring and data collection from the nest through the FalconCam will contribute to the success of this majestic species in Ohio.

To learn about the peregrines at other locations in Ohio visit the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s website.

Dayton’s own peregrine pair can be viewed on the Boonshoft FalconCam.

Questions about the FalconCam?  Email us at falcons@boonshoftmuseum.org