Lawrence Peregrines: pair bonding

February 28, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I2622-001Both Lawrence Peregrines were observed just before dark on a cloudy afternoon.  They were both perched on a lower granite ledge beneath the clock face on the NW corner of the Clock Tower.  The smaller peregrine on the left is the male and the larger peregrine on the right with thicker barring is the female.

As a bit of background, peregrine falcons form monogamous pair bonds that often last throughout many breeding seasons. Both males and females have a strong attachment to previous nesting sites, which may explain monogamy over multiple breeding seasons, rather than attachment between individuals.

Males display at nest ledges and other nearby locations to attract females and advertise ownership to other falcons. The development, and renewal of a pair bond is indicated by the male and female roosting near each other. Eventually they sit at the nest ledge side by side. Individuals may also peep at each other, preen, nibble their mate’s toes, or “bill” (gently grab the other bird’s bill in their own). Both sexes may then engage in “ledge displays”, centered on, or near, the area of their nest, or scrape. Prior to egg-laying, the pair will engage in incredible aerial displays, involving power dives, tight cornering, high soaring, and body rolls during a dive. Once the pair has formed, or been renewed, they begin to hunt cooperatively and females begin to beg for food from the male!

Bald Eagle: Merrimack River, Lawrence

February 27, 2017 in Bald Eagle

_W7I2553-001Always be on the lookout as you pass favorite locations, cuz you just never know why you might see!  For the past many years, Bald Eagles have been seen perched along the Merrimack River across from the NX Stage inc. corporate headquarters on Merrimack Street in Lawrence.  But since the recent park went in the Bald Eagles have for the most part avoided this location as a popular winter perch.  On this bright sunny Monday morning, it was a wonderful surprise to encounter this adult Bald Eagle perched and enjoying the morning sun overlooking the Merrimack River!

Peregrines: Woburn courtship time?

February 27, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I2513-001The female is regularly seen in and around the nest ledge area.  This bodes very well for pair bonding and strongly suggests success for the upcoming breeding season.  This is a new female and she gets along well with the continuing male at this site. as we move towards the end of February, we enter the time for courtship activities.  Courtship serves to strengthen the pair bond and brings the pair into reproductive synchrony. Courtship behaviors may be seen  over a long time period depending on the breeding chronology of the specific pair but is typically observed most intensively during the month of March. Courtship involves several behaviors performed in flight or in the vicinity of the nest site. These include circling flights, bows, and displays. Behaviors are often associated with vocalizations. During the courtship period, the male will frequently offer prey to the female.  Stay tuned!

Peregrine Falcons: Haverhill

February 24, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Haverhill

_W7I2404-001Made a late afternoon pass through downtown Haverhill and found both peregrines atop the east side of the roof at the Viewpoint Apartments located at 170 Washington Street. The east side is all shade late in the day, so both photos less than clear, but help to provide sense of where they are perching in late winter.  They have view looking east of the Merrimack and the bridge.



Great Horned Owl: female on nest

February 24, 2017 in Great Horned Owl

_W7I2364-002Quite a treat, after searching high a low, and almost giving up, to just barely see the large “ears” of a female Great Horned Owl on nest this afternoon. She was sitting so low in the nest, her ears were a big challenge to find behind the sticks in an old nest.

Excerpt from Mass Audubon Breeding Bird Atlas I below.

The Great Horned Owl is the earliest nester of our native birds, usually laying its eggs between February 20 and March 25. The clutch almost always consists of two eggs, but the range can be from one to three, and sometimes four. One brood is raised each season, and on rare occasions a second clutch is produced if the first is lost. Incubation usually begins with the first egg and is performed by the female for 28 to 30 days. She will remain on the nest even during severe weather conditions and may be found covered with snow.

Lawrence Peregrines: female at nestbox

February 23, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I2313-001As we move through February, we approach the start of courtship activities and the breeding season.  More often, the female will perch at the opening to the nest box or on the lateral wooden perch pole.  The female is more heavily spotted on the upper breast and becomes more heavily barred on the abdomen, flanks, thighs, and under the tail feathers.

During the start of the breeding season, the first indication of courtship activity is the perching/roosting of male and female at same perch locations. Eventually the pair perches/roosts side by side on the same ledge. During incubation, the male roosts in a prominent location away from scrape, often on or near the top of cliff. After brooding ceases, the female does not roost on nest ledge.

Lawrence Peregrines: female at sunset!

February 22, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I2302-001Standing securely at 267 feet tall, the Ayer Mill Clock Tower is the largest mill clock in the world, and a landmark for the Merrimack Valley. The tower itself was completed in 1910 as the crown jewel of the Ayer Mill, part of the American Woolen Company’s collection of mill buildings. The Ayer Mill operated for the next four decades, slowly shrinking in production as mill companies moved to Southern states with cheaper labor until it closed its doors in 1955.

With the collapse of the textile mills, it fell into disrepair. The bell had disappeared from the tower, the glass in the dials was broken, rain had destroyed the original beadboard ceiling at the bell level, pigeons were nesting from the cistern level to the top of the tower, and the original clock no longer functioned. Like the city of Lawrence surrounding it, the Ayer Mill Clock Tower was in decay.

The Greater Lawrence Community Foundation determined that the tower could be returned to its former grandeur, and proceed to raise funds for the restoration. Over $1 million was raised and put towards breathing life back into the symbol of Lawrence.

The Clock Tower has also been home for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons.  The peregrines keep watch around the Tower as they prepare for another successful breeding season.  Here is a photo of the female peregrine perched on the SW corner of the roof overlooking the setting sun in the distance!

Peregrine: Woburn female crossbar perch!

February 20, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I2231-001Made a very late pass by the Woburn Peregrines at the end of President’s Day weekend.  It was a quiet Monday on a holiday long weekend.  The late day setting sun cast a golden glow without a cloud in the sky.  The sun was just setting while the female peregrine was perched on the largest utility pole with the double crossbars.  She has thicker lateral barring on her underparts compared to the male and his finer barring pattern. The female is more heavily spotted on the upper breast and the pattern becomes heavily barred on the abdomen, flanks, thighs, and under the tail. feathers.

Peregrine: Woburn male preening

February 17, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I1173-001The male falcon was seen perched and enjoying the bright morning sun.  It spent time stretching both feet and talons as well as preening feathers on both wings.

Method of preening flight and body feathers for Peregrines as in most birds. Toes and talons nibbled with bill, particularly after feeding.  Peregrines typically rouse (shake) after preening; also rouse during flight, particularly after leaving perch (unless to initiate a pursuit). After rousing or preening, may bend head down and to side to rub eye against wing wrist.

Scratching is form of preening for areas not reached with bill; raises one leg in front of wing and bends head down to side; talons (especially middle toe) used to scratch head and bill, effective in dislodging scraps of meat.

Adults commonly stretch single leg or wing laterally; stand on one leg and stretch opposite leg back to side, simultaneously stretching wing from same side across extended leg.


Lawrence Peregrines: Verizon Tower!

February 16, 2017 in Verizon Cell Tower

_W7I0908-001It was another cloudy cold winterish morning with both of the Lawrence Peregrines tucked away on the hot air exhaust ledges at the Verizon Cell Tower.  The wind was strong out of the NW and the peregrines tucked in tight to stay warm!