Red-tailed Hawk: Lawrence

April 11, 2017 in Red-tailed Hawk

_W7I4227-001On a beautiful bright sunny morning, had a wonderful opportunity to watch a Red-tailed Hawk glide slowly by with a bit a wing flapping. These hawks are frequent in the Greater Lawrence area and are most often seen around major roadways on light posts and other elevated structures.

Red-tailed hawks are active during the day (diurnal). Red-tailed hawk pairs remain together for years in the same territory. These birds are very territorial, and defend territories that range in size from about 1/2 mile to 2.5 square kilometers. The territory size depends on the amount of food, perches, and nest sites in the area. The female is usually the more aggressive partner around the nest itself, whereas the male more aggressively defends the territory boundaries. The birds will soar over their territory, mostly on clear days, looking for intruders.

Bald Eagle Essex County nest #2

April 11, 2017 in Bald Eagle

_W7I4186-001A stunning morning with cobalt blue skies, bright sun, winds from the south at 8MPH, and temps in low 60’s.  Observed  a beautiful adult Bald Eagle near an occupied nest, taking a break while the mate incubated eggs.  Hatch time for this nest is right about now and we should see signs of feeding young over next few days!

Lawrence Peregrine Falcons: female ready to land!

April 10, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I4126-001Made a later afternoon visit to the west side of the Clock Tower and found the female in flight and landing mode a number of times around the NW corner of the below the clock face.  The skies were clear with bright late day sun, light winds front he SW, and temps just below 50F.  No doubt the female is stretching her wings after hours incubating 4 eggs!

Peregrine Falcons: Woburn

April 10, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I4027-001A bright sunny Monday morning with blue skies and spring in the air with temp almost at 60F and gentle SW winds at 10MPH.  Only the male was seen this morning perched on a rocky outcropping near the nest ledge but the female was not around.  It seems like she has yet to go into incubation mode but no doubt we are very close!

Lawrence peregrines: 4 eggs!

April 10, 2017 in In the Nest Box

LP.4.10.2017The female Peregrine in Lawrence has finally laid all four eggs, a bit later than usual for this location.  Here’s how the process works. Once fertilization occurs the egg begins moving down her oviduct. It’s sort of on an assembly line where the egg gets built, layer by layer. First comes several coatings of yolk. The egg moves a little farther down the ovidicut where it gets covered with albumen (the clear fluid that we’d call egg white) and various membranes. Then it continues on its way until shortly before she’s ready to lay the egg, it gets its final layer, the shell. The whole process takes a little more than a day.

The actual act of laying the eggs can take as little as a few minutes or as long as an hour or more. When she’s ready to lay her egg, the female will sit in the scrape. She may look like she’s sleeping, or at least taking a nap, but if you watch carefully, you’ll notice that she starts to move around as the egg is laid. She typically keeps the egg covered after it’s laid for 10 to 20 minutes before moving off the nest and letting us have a good look.

Peregrine eggs are speckled, and vary in color from light pink to darker brown or purple. Older falcons may produce lighter colored eggs. Each one is about the size of a small chicken egg.

One bit of behavior that many people find unusual is that she won’t begin incubating the eggs, or brooding, right away. Believe it or not, that’s perfectly normal for Peregrines. She’ll begin brooding when the next to last egg is laid, so when she starts, we can be pretty sure we know how many eggs she’ll lay– just add one to the current number. Before then, she’ll mostly leave the eggs uncovered. Don’t worry though– Peregrine eggs can survive just fine unless the temperature drops below freezing. If that happens, she’ll sit on the eggs just to keep them warm enough to stay viable. We’ll talk more about brooding and incubation soon. In the meantime, keep watching!

In this photo on Monday morning after the last eggs were laid over the weekend, the female is taking a break and resting on the outer edge of the nest box!

Peregrine Falcons: Brockton

April 9, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts

_W7I3672-001An early evening visit just before 6PM to observe the pair of Peregrine Falcons in downtown Brockton.  This pair seems to be in breeding mode yet again atop one of the local cell phone towers.  In 2016, two checks are banded at about 6 weeks of age.  One chick jumped but was recovered 2 hours later nearby.  The two female chicks had the following band numbers: 18/BE and 19/BE.  The adults are unbanded.

Peregrine Falcons: Taunton Green

April 9, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts

_W7I2799-001The world’s fastest animal continues to make a home atop a historic courthouse in downtown Taunton. A pair of peregrine falcons formed a nest in 2013 on the Taunton Superior Courthouse, making the Silver City landmark one of only 30+ locations in the state to host a nest for the aerodynamic bird of prey since the species disappeared entirely from Massachusetts in the mid-1950s.

“The peregrine falcon nesting in Taunton was a great new finding,” said Tom French, assistant director of MassWildlife, who oversees the agency’s Natural Heritage program. “Five years ago it would have been unheard of. … The courthouse is clearly working well for them. It’s absolutely another sign that the peregrine is coming back strong.”

MassWildlife found out in 2013 about the two peregrine falcons nesting at the Taunton Superior Courthouse. After further investigation, they also discovered that the couple hatched a clutch of four chicks there earlier that year, French said. Two of the baby falcons died during the learning-how-to-fly stage, French said, while the other fledglings left the nest successfully.

_W7I3439-001French said city residents should expect peregrine falcons to stay as permanent fixtures next to the Taunton Green.  This photo shows the banded female with the black over green 64/V alphanumeric state band on it’s left ankle.  The male, seen here launching into flight, is unbanded.

Peregrine Falcons: Woburn food exchange

April 7, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I1501-001Courtship behavior continues between these two adult peregrines with food exchanges and other activities. The male and female frequently visit the nest at the same time, leaning toward each other in a bowing fashion. They may also be seen to exhibit other bonding behaviors. The birds continue to clean up around the nest ledge in preparation for egg laying. Eggs should appear sometime in next few days if not already. The falcons typically lay between 3 or 4 eggs, spaced 1-3 days apart. They don’t start incubating until they’ve laid their next to last egg. Both adults take turns incubating the eggs, which hatch in about 29-33 days after incubating starts in earnest. During incubation, prey is brought into the nest box by the foraging adult for the pair to share. The pair will exchange incubation duties about every 30 minutes to an hour. During incubation eggs are repositioned and rolled, this often occurs after an incubating exchange.

Peregrine Falcon: Woburn female perched

April 5, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I1382-001Made a late afternoon visit in search of Peregrines in Woburn under dark overcast skies, wind E at 7MPH, and temp in low 40’s.  the adult female was quietly perched on a favorite utility pole near the Vinkari Safari Indoor Playground.  She reminded quietly perched , very alert, but with no distractions.

Lawrence Peregrines: copulating

April 5, 2017 in Near the Clock Tower

_W7I1317-001Mating starts as many as four weeks, or more, before egg laying and continues through the process, up to several times an hour.  The male will mount the female, typically no longer then ten seconds, then he will disengage and fly off. Fertilization of an egg happens every 48 hours. After being fertilized, it takes an egg 24 hours to develop and be laid… resulting in a new egg being laid every 48 hours!  We are likely a day or two away from the first egg being laid, if it hasn’t happened all ready!