Bald Eagle chicks, NW Essex county

May 31, 2014 in Bald Eagle

The nest in NW Essex County has two healthy eagle chicks this year.  They are getting larger and are starting the wing flapping process as they move around the nest and move more frequently onto the ridge of the nest providing better views!

As nestlings, eagles progress through three different sets of feathers including natal down, thermal down, and juvenile feathers.  Chicks are hatched with a coat of natal down.  This down is very light in color and does not have much insulating ability such that chicks must be brooded by an adult for warmth.  Natal down is replaced by thermal down beginning around 10 days of age.  Thermal down has very good insulating qualities and by 15 days chicks are typically able to thermoregulate on their own.  The emergence of juvenile feathers including contour and flight feathers typically begins on or before 27 days.  These dark feathers are arranged in tracts and emerge in sequence beginning with the capital (head) and dorsal (back) tracts.  The ventral (belly) tract is the last feather group to emerge.  Flight feathers including the wing and tail continue to grow throughout the development period reaching their maximum lengths around the time of fledging.  The last phase of development as nestlings is neurological or the learning of coordinated movements.  This includes walking, feeding, and flying.  The final month of development is consumed by acquiring the coordination needed for movement and flight.

Peregrine chicks looking west from nest box!

May 31, 2014 in In the Nest Box

The peregrine chicks are spending more time at the froint edge of the nest box looking out over the west facing view.  They continue assertive wing flapping to stretch those wings and to learn just how they work!  Mother Bear remains nearby on duty!




Bald Eagle on nest, NE Essex County

May 31, 2014 in Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle nest in NE Essex county continues to look good for chicks.  Reports have been coming in that the small brown headed chicks are starting to poke their heads up and are just starting to be seen.  Stay tuned!

Peregrine female guards the nest box!

May 29, 2014 in In the Nest Box

The chicks remain under the watchful guard of mother bear who is usually now out of the nest box but always close by keeping her chicks under observation!  Chicks continue to move around the inside of nest box.




Peregrines after banding day

May 28, 2014 in In the Nest Box

The chicks continue to grow and are now undergoing the transition to regular plumage.  They will lose their down covering in the 10 days as they prepare for first flight!  They have started endless bouts of initial wing flapping in the nest box.




Peregrine chicks banded!

May 27, 2014 in In the Nest Box

Three peregrine falcon chicks roosting above the New Balance factory were pronounced healthy Tuesday and fitted with federal and state tracking bands to help Mass Wildlife biologists and local volunteers keep tabs on them.

Mass Wildllife staffers and other volunteers gently lifted the fluffy chicks out of their nesting box and used pliers to fasten metal bands around their legs.

The chicks were completely checked for health issues and to make sure they were growing and developing without major issues.  They observed that flight feathers are starting to emerge.

When fully fledged, the peregrine chicks will be fierce hunters that can dive at speeds of 200 mph or more to snatch other birds in mid-flight.

The chicks’ parents are among some 30+ peregrine falcon pairs that live in Massachusetts, favoring bridges and tall buildings where they can easily spot their prey.  Based on feathers found in the nest, the falcons have recently preyed  on Bluejays and Pigeons.

The mother falcon, sleek and gray with a banded gray and white belly, squawked furiously as Mass Wildlife staffers and volunteers opened the back access hatch of the nesting the box. All the humans wore appropriate gear for protection from her talons. The babies squawked at a higher pitch, then bleated as the falcon banders gently reached in to secure each chick for banding.

There were three chicks along with one unhatched egg. Overall, all were healthy. It is very normal for one chick to be a little less developed from others due to lower food allocation issues from stronger siblings At just over three weeks old, these chicks were mature enough to band, because their legs won’t grow any more, but too young to fly away.


Peregrine chicks very active!

May 22, 2014 in In the Nest Box

At three weeks, flight feathers and body contour feathers are poking through the down. Very active, the young birds are moving around the nest box and exploring the area around all the corners. They have a marked interest in anything that moves.

Peregrine female feeding chicks!

May 21, 2014 in In the Nest Box

Amazing to watch the feeding process up close and personal!  The chicks remain completely dependent on adults for food.





Bald Eagle on nest, NE Essex County

May 21, 2014 in Bald Eagle

Another Bald Eagle nest has been added to the local observation circuit!  This nest is in the northeast area of Essex county and near the Merrimack River.  It has been productive the last few years and chicks from this nest have been seen and photographed  on the Merrimack in Lawrence, MA.  The female is on nest with possibly 2 chicks ready to make an appearance very soon!

Peregrine Falcon female near nest box

May 20, 2014 in Near the Clock Tower

The female peregrine has been spending more time out of the nest box and in a variety of perch locations in proximity of the nest box.  Among her favorite perch locations is atop a nearby utility pole on Merrimack Street just west of the intersection of Union St.

8 photos: