Avian couple to "tweet" their breeding story

Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:55pm EST
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By Jon Hurdle

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - When it comes to getting the word out about the state capital's most famous avian couple, what could be more appropriate than Twitter?

State officials have opened an account on the popular social networking website to allow users to keep up to date with this year's breeding cycle of a pair of Peregrine falcons that nest every year high up on a state office building.

The rare birds of prey -- only 21 pairs bred successfully in Pennsylvania in 2009 -- have raised a brood on the Rachel Carson Office Building each spring for the last six years, a process that has been covered in real time by a live webcam set up near the nest.

This year for the first time, the birds will also be able -- with a little help from officials at the state's Department of Environmental Protection -- to tweet the arrival and growth of their family to subscribers worldwide.

Department spokeswoman Susan Rickens said the Twitter feed so far has about 50 subscribers from as far away as Britain and Germany, but she expects a lot more when the eggs are laid in late March.

The aim of the Twitter feed is to increase interest in and understanding of the birds and to promote the message of their conservation, said Rickens.

"This is for people to talk about the efforts to conserve them," she said.

Peregrine watchers were concerned that the pair might not breed in their usual place this year because the male had not been seen at the usual time. But he appeared on February 4, raising hopes that the pair will again produce a brood, said the DEP's education director Jack Farster.   Continued...