AN important birth is about to take place at Charles Sturt University (CSU), with the hatching of a peregrine falcon egg set to occur any day now.
The egg is being carefully watched over by the female falcon Swift.
This year there will only be one egg hatched, as the male falcon Beau accidentally flew off with a second egg attached to his plumage.
The falcons took up residence at the university in 2007, in a section of the water tower, which was built in the early 1970s.
A staff member first spotted the falcons swooping on their prey from the water tower in 2007 and CSU staff set up a nesting box fitted with two video cameras.
It was not long before staff were able to monitor the falcons over the coming seasons.
So far, eight healthy chicks have hatched at the university.
Adjunct lecturer in environmental management Dr Cilla Kinross has been closely monitoring the peregrine falcons, which are the fastest birds alive , iving at speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour.
“We first noticed they were using the tower as a sort of launching pad for unsuspecting galahs,” Dr Kinross said.
The falcons’ diet is made up primarily of other birds, which they kill on the wing, usually with an initial strike before snatching it out of the air as it falls.
The project at CSU has been supported by the Beaufighters’ Squadron 30, whose emblem is the peregine falcon.
Dr Kinross said the nesting site at the university was one of only a handful in the world, as peregrine falcons usually nest in extremely inacessible places such as cliff faces and quarries.