Livestreaming webcam launches to observe UT Tower falcon

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- One of Austin's high-flying residents calls the University of Texas tower her home. Now, more than just avid bird-watchers will be able to see the peregrine falcon diving and looping around the campus rooftops.

UT's Biodiversity Center launched a live-streaming webcam Friday morning to keep track of the bird, affectionately nicknamed "Tower Girl," because she stays there year round. An injury prevents her from migrating.

Tim Keitt has been keeping an eye on Tower Girl for years. He's a professor of integrative biology at the school who teaches classes on birds and field courses on watching and identifying birds, and often takes students to "meet" Tower Girl and practice their observational skills. He's glad the rest of the world will be able to, too.

"Don't forget to go outside and identify some species after watching the webcam," Keitt said. "The idea of biodiversity is really about how we interact with nature. We hope the Biodiversity Center will help people to reconnect with the diversity of life all around us."

While the webcam will let the public enjoy UT's famous resident, it will also let scientists learn more about her. They're particularly excited because, after 8 years of living in the tower, she may have found a mate for the first time. If she lays eggs, they and the public will be able to see them in the nest.

Officials first proposed adding a webcam to the tower last summer. They wired up the 86-year-old building for livestream capabilities, battling weather challenges and working only when Tower Girl was away from her nest so they didn't scare her.

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