Weeks of patient observation, not something normally associated with kindergartners and first-graders, were rewarded recently when a nestling peregrine falcon peeped out from under the comforting warmth of mother bird's breast.

Weeks of patient observation, not something normally associated with kindergartners and first-graders, were rewarded recently when a nestling peregrine falcon peeped out from under the comforting warmth of mother bird's breast.

Students in Amy Hill's class at Indianola Informal K-8 cheered and hugged one another last week at this first glimpse of the first offspring this spring of Scout and Trooper, the nesting peregrine falcons. The children were watching as events unfolded in real time on the ledge of the 41st floor of the Rhodes Tower at 30 E. Broad St., courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' "falcon cam."

"Fluffy!" cried one girl, as the nestling made its initial, brief appearance on May 19 before Scout gently rearranged herself on top of it and the remaining three eggs.

After a while, the students gave a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday" to welcome the newest peregrine falcon, who may or may not wind up being named Fluffy; one of the boys was holding out for Wally.

That Hill's students have been watching these most natural of events take place in the most urban of settings is the result of the father of one of them being a field producer for "Wild Ohio," a television show from the ODNR's Division of Wildlife.

Northland resident Timothy Baldwin said that he was showing 6-year-old Beaux the view from the "falcon cam" at home, and the boy immediately wanted to share this glimpse of the wonders of nature with his classmates at the Clintonville school.

"He said, 'We should tell everyone at school,' " Baldwin recalled.

The students in the combined kindergarten-first grade class began watching the nesting peregrines in about mid-April, Hill said. It dove-tailed nicely with a lesson plan that had started out with imaginary dragons and was moving on to the real ones, komodo dragons and snapdragons and dragonflies, according to the teacher.

"For the first couple days, the kids viewed what appeared to be an inanimate object: 'mom' sitting on some eggs, no motion," Beaux's mother, Ann Baldwin, wrote in an e-mail. "On day three, she moved. Now I may not be selling this experience as something you need to get your kids involved in now, but this has been a true experience in appreciating the little things."

"It's just been fabulous," Hill said, adding that now several classes at Indianola Informal have taken to spending some time making observations via "falcon cam."

Awareness that what they are seeing on the computer screen is happening only a relatively short distance away has made the learning experience even more fun for her students, according to Hill.

Tim Baldwin has visited son Beaux's classroom in the past, and last week both he and his wife were on hand for the event of the first egg hatching. The audio-visual production specialist told the students that the baby falcons will start to fly in about six weeks, and prior to that they will be banded.

"So that we can follow them," he said.

The banding process involves much screeching on the part of the young birds, he added.

"They don't like being banded one bit, but it doesn't hurt them," Baldwin said.

Most won't remain in the Columbus area, he said, and indeed the ODNR website that includes "falcon cam," http:// www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/dow/falcons/, has a link showing where Rhodes Tower-born birds have gotten to since state officials began keeping track of their travels back in 1994. These include such locales as Guntersville, Ala.; Bishop, Texas; and Rochester, N.Y.

Baldwin cautioned the children that not every falcon born on the office tower's ledge has gone on to lead a long life. One of them recently flew into a building and died.

"Sometimes they get hit by cars," Baldwin added. "All kinds of things happen to them."

The survival rate is one in four.

"It's tough being a falcon," he said.

The use of "falcon cam" in his son's classroom as well as others - Hill has heard of a school in Florida that tunes in to the live-action view - is all part of the Division of Wildlife's mission to reconnect young people with nature, Baldwin said.

"This is one way for them to see something happening as it happens," he added.

Ann Baldwin is especially pleased that Beaux came up with the idea of sharing the camera's eye view of the birds with his entire class.

"What I notice in him is an appreciation for nature," she said.