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.


Kristin Hollman (B-A) said...

Anne - you are funny. Hope those lawyers don't mind the tag "white guys".

Regarding the bird, there is a similar type of bird you can see on a web cam from Central Park (NYC) pointed at a Co-op which includes resident Mary Tyler Moore - see Vanity Fair article, published about 1 year ago for more details. Hope all is well.


Larry Johnson said...

Anne, Visiting Binghamton (for Kiwanis) I heard 2 falcons screeching this morning (7/23)and after a few minutes saw them flying about some of the tall buildings, making the pigeons very nrevous. I work in the Statler Towers in Buffalo, where there is a falcon roost (for the past 8 years or so, on the 19th floor. Check out the website.

Larry Johnson said... not always working, and babies have grown up and moved on.