Day 35: Exercising the wing muscles!!

June 16, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0616-001On rare occasions male peregrines may take flight as young as 35 days, which is possible as they are fully developed at this age.  Usually they wait a few more days though, until their wing muscles are stronger through exercise in the nest area, and generally by the time they do take flight they have lost the last tufts of down.

Bald Eagle nest: Plymouth County

June 15, 2017 in Bald Eagle

_W7I1125-001Had a nice visit by kayak to a Bald Eagle nest in Plymouth County with a pair of eaglets.  In terms of size and shape they appear to be close to fledging time.  The other eaglet was resting and almost out of sight in the nest.  The adult female was perched not far away on a tree snag.  Here’s a quick recap of the timeline for growth in an eagle chick:

The young birds grow rapidly, they add one pound to their body weight every four or five days. At about two weeks, it is possible for them to hold their head up for feeding. By three weeks they are 1 foot high and their feet and beaks are very nearly adult size.  Between four and five weeks, the birds are able to stand, at which time they can began tearing up their own food.  At six weeks, the eaglets are very nearly as large as their parents.  At eight weeks, the appetites of the young birds are at their greatest. While parents hunt almost continuous to feed them, back at the nest the eaglets are beginning to stretch their wings in response to gusts of wind and may even be lifted off their feet for short periods.

This pair of eaglets are in wing stretching mode and ready for flight very soon!

Day 34: Within a few days of first flight!

June 15, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0615-001Approaching five weeks of age, the chicks are within a few days of being able to take flight for the first time, and the remaining down feathers are usually largely restricted to the lower back, lower legs, and crown.  Here the female is providing another morning feeding and pauses to look to her left.

Bald Eagle nest: Essex County

June 15, 2017 in Bald Eagle

As the Bald Eagle chicks grown in size the nest starts to become very crowded!  The 3 chicks are now very close to fledge time. The female remains near the nest and on watch most of the time.

Eaglets are nestlings for 10 to 12 weeks. By the time they are 9 weeks old, they are fully grown.

Some scientists did a study keeping track of all the time that the parent eagles spent at the nest. Once the babies hatched, the female was present at the nest about 90% of the time. The male was present about 50% of the time. During the study, at least one of the parents was at the nest almost all the time.

The young nestlings are directly fed raw meat starting day one. Eagles do not regurgitate food to feed their young like some other animals do.During the first two weeks, the male provides most of the food. After 3 or 4 weeks, the female provides as much food as the male, and by the late nesting period, the female provides most of the food.

Day 33: Pantaloons!

June 14, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0614.02-001Day 33 – ‘the age of the white pantaloons’.  This may happen a day or two earlier or later, but most chicks do go through this phase where they have large fluffs of down conspicuously surrounding their legs, much more prominently than anywhere else on their bodies.  

This image captures a rare moment with both adults in the nest box; the male is on the ledge with leg bands!

Peregrine Falcons: East Cambridge pair

June 14, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I0151-001Here is a look at the female on watch at the nest box with the male nearby.  From a distance, only one chick has been visible and is close to fledge time!

Day 32: More vocal and active

June 13, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0613-001By day 32, the patches of remaining down feathers are becoming restricted to the base of the legs, parts of the wings, and perhaps parts of the back, as well as the crown.  They are also becoming increasingly vocal and active around the nest area, to the extent that the adults rarely visit except to drop off food for them.  However, on days with very high heat, the female may provide protective cover in the late afternoon sun with temps over 90F!

Peregrine Falcons: Watertown

June 13, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I0116-001Made a visit to look at the Peregrine Falcons in Watertown.  It was just as a heat wave was subsiding and the late temp was moving down into the high 70’s.  One of the adults was seen on a ledge, on the SW corner of the building.  It was still panting from the heat and keeping it’s wings a bit spread and lifted up to keep cool.  Another adult was nearby and one chick, had fledged and was on a lower ledge beneath the nest box.

Day 31: Losing their down!

June 12, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0612.01-001By day 29, the chicks often have their faces largely free of down, giving them a white-capped appearance.  On their backs, the remaining down often appears to be clumped together in certain areas, with extensive areas instead revealing the dark juvenile feathers. 

It’s often around day 30 that the chicks seem to turn into “real” peregrines almost overnight, very rapidly losing much of the down on their breast, thus revealing the heavily streaked breast feathers they will be carrying for the next year. 

2017.0612.03-001By day 31, the chicks often become actively interested in losing their down, preening themselves and sometimes ending up with feathers stuck to their beak as a result.  From the back they are looking increasingly dark, with the wing feathers approaching full length. 

Lawrence Peregrines: ready to fledge

June 12, 2017 in In the Nest Box

_W7I9852-001During a late afternoon visit to observe the nest box action, had a wonderful opportunity to see the chicks moving around the outer ledge of the nest box.  As happens at this stage of growth, there was lots of wing flapping and movement by the chicks.

Of particular note was watching the female go out on the perch a number of times and show the chicks how to do so.  she demonstrated how to balance and not fall off.  Then she took off into flight in to the west.  As she lifted off, her talons remained out, not tucked under in normal streamline fashion.

_W7I9895-001She was making a very short flight to a nearby rooftop to show the nestlings how to prepare for first flight!  she remained on the roof for a few minutes and then took off in a flash.