Appio and Vergine: a Pair of Peregrine Falcons under the Watchful Eye of a Birdcam

Installation of nesting boxes on Acea electricity lines commenced around ten years ago through cooperation with a UK institute and italian researchers. Initially, 30 nests were installed on 60 kV HV pylons along the Roman coast and on the outskirts of Rome. The first bird to occupy these nests was a kestrel, a small falcon that is perfectly at home in these boxes, which provided shelter from predators and an environment filled with prey – above all insects, small reptiles and rodents.
This project was called “Ali ed Energia” (Wings and Energy) and is now proceeding with cooperation from Ornis italic, which monitors sites to check whether or not nests are occupied and reproduction every year.
Other nests have been placed on Acea buildings since then, partly filling a “natural” gap as the Roman countryside offers falcons excellent prey but few sites high enough to be used for nesting.
Researcher can monitor the nests without disturbing chicks to gather valuable information on the biology and ecology of kestrels and tawny owls, recording the number and date on which eggs are laid, measuring the chicks and analyzing a number of samples in laboratories to assess any effects from environmental pollution.
Birdcams have also been installed commencing in 2004 to observe the nests of kestrels, storks, herring gulls and – nowadays – the peregrine falcon, the latest guest to box nests.
In addition to a birdcam, each station has a radio transmitter, local power supply (with high-capacity batteries), receiver, modem, computer and an ADSL telephone line. The software component comprises interfaces among cameras and HTML language to allow images to be broadcast at www.birdcam.it.
At the end of 2009105 two peregrine falcons nested on the Acea tower-tank in Salone, near to the town.
Their nest is located at the top of the tower – around 60 metres above ground – and dominates a vast green area comprising the "Acqua Vergine" source, which still supplies the Trevi Fountain and the lake in Villa Borghese. These falcons have been called Appio and Vergine, which are the names of two Roman aqueducts. Thousands of starlings fly over the Salone area in winter months, moving from the cities to the countryside in the morning and returning in the evening. These falcons capture the starlings and eat their prey on the tower’s cornice.
Numerous bird-lovers all over the world follow www.birdcam.it to observe the falcons in Acea “nests” live.
Source: www.ornisitalica.com