Thursday, May 18, 2006

Friends in High Places: Take Two

Last month, I posted about the very cool, and rare, Peregrine falcon nest in the top of downtown Binghamton's most famous "skyscraper" (at 10 stories, the Security Mutual Building was a very big deal when it was built around 1904). The nest is apparently located at the top floor, behind the decorative scroll, just underneath the flagpole in the near-corner in the photo at left.

Yesterday, I interviewed at the local Big Fancy Law Firm in town, when there was a lull in the conversation and I gazed out the window toward the incredible view of downtown. Suddenly it struck me, and I said, "Hey, isn't this where the peregrine falcon nest is? but 3 floors above us?" Not bad for a newcomer to town, eh? Well, one of the men - eyes aglow- says, "Yes! it is! I'm a 'birder,' are you?" Well that sent us down a 20 minute conversational path about falcons and eagles and all manner of such things. He was impressed that I knew about the birds and that they are the only pair of falcons known in this county/region.

A few interesting things I learned: first, falcons are cliff-dwelling birds, which is why they tend to turn up in strange places like sky scrapers. There really aren't any cliffs around, to speak of, so I guess the ornate/creviced sky scraper in downtown Binghamton is the man-made approximation. Second, falcons (and bald eagles, for that matter) are beginning to return to the area because the DDT in the area is starting to go away and birds are having an easier time propigating, etc. Third, this pair, although they've mated every year for the past several years and produced chicks, is having a hard time successfully rearing their young into adolescence and their chicks are dying off.

Probably the best part was that, when I walked out of the building after the interview, I passed underneath the nest on the way to the car and noticed- not making this up- what can only be called "bird bits" on the sidewalk. There was definitely a non-meaty wing, possibly from a sparrow?, and it was surely the result of a Falcon Feast 10 stories above.

This morning, I got to thinking- Binghamton needs to have more fun things, more things that make it unique and attract attention in the media. Why not a Falcon Camera, like the one at Kodak in Rochester, NY? It serves the dual purpose of drawing attention to a cool local phenomenon, and, if one of the cameras is focused outward, toward the downtown area, it also serves as a (literally) bird's eye view of our quaint (but ragged) little city.

Well, not one to sit on a good idea, I went to the building this morning. I was standing outside on the median of the street, looking up at the building, when a veritable stream of lawyers flowed out of the building, 3 of whom I'd interviewed with the day before. There I was, dressed in jeans and unshowered, staring up at their building, trying to explain myself. They either thought I was nuts or very committed to Binghamton!

Anyway, I'm going to work on this one. I'm going to do some more research on the birds and then talk to the Security Mutual building manager/head honcho guy. At the very least, they should have a Security Mutual Downtown Binghamton Cam affixed to the building, because it would be so cheap and easy to do and would be a fun addition to the local scene.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I know that there is not a lot of news in this area, and that the local daily paper really has to do some digging for stories, but today's front-page article might take the prize. It's a story about a friggin' TREE that was recently planted in the newly built/landscaped round-a-bout. This was a front-page, huge color photo, above-the-fold story.

Almost as good, just above it was a headliner about how the mayor of a local city is "unofficially thinking about" running for the state Assembly seat. Since when is it news that someone is "unofficially thinking" about something? I bet he was not happy, either, because the writer apparently interviewed other local politicians who were surprised by the "news" since he was just elected mayor.

The implication, which politicians always want to avoid, is that he is just using his current post and biding his time until he can climb up to the next, more powerful office, and isn't really devoting his full attention to the present gig. Looooooove the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin.

Eliot Spitzer in da house!

It's not often that anyone of national importance passes through Binghamton, so I decided to pony up my $35 to the Democratic Club of Broome County and attend a luncheon for New York Attorney General, and gubernatorial hopeful, Eliot Spitzer.

The local Holiday Inn banquet room was almost at full capacity, and my sources told me that there were 320 people there- quite a respectable turnout for such a small town. Speaking of "small town," days like today freak me out when I know at least 10% of the people in the room, and I've only lived here 3 months!

My favorite was when the Mayor came up to me and thanked me for getting involved in civic affairs, and then introduced me to someone as a "member of the Main Street Advisory Committee." Who knew that showing up at one meeting made me something official!