Lawrence Peregrines: adult male, leg bands 6/4

August 29, 2017 in In the Nest Box

_W7I4814-001Under mostly cloudy skies, little wind, and temp around 60F, stopped by the Ayer Mill Clock Tower for a look at the Peregrine Falcons.  The adult male, with black/green leg bands, was perched on the outside edge of the next box.  Both individuals of a breeding pair may remain near the nesting site after breeding season.  They tend to be more solitary in their behavior, but such pair behavior may be highly variable.  In this location, prey is always available with an abundance of pigeons, mourning doves, and bluebirds.

The Ayer Mill Clock Tower rises above the restored mill building on South Union Street in Lawrence.  The mill building is owned and operated by the New Balance company, the Boston based global athletic company.  The tower is 267 feet tall at its peak.

New Balance is a significant contributor to the upkeep of the Clock Tower!

Lawrenece Peregrines: last one fledged this morning!

June 24, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0624-001The last female took off in flight early this morning.  She was up late last night flapping as hard as she could.  During the afternoon yesterday, she was hopping all around the nest box, flapping wildly, and even jumping out onto the perch pole and walking out to the end and flapping there as well.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

Day 28: Nearly full grown size and weight

June 9, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0609-001As they approach four weeks of age, the chicks are rapidly growing their juvenile feathers both below and above, and are looking visibly darker with each passing day.

At day 28, the chicks are nearing the midpoint of their transition from down-covered chick to juvenile-plumaged fledgling, and are nearly full-grown in terms of body size and weight.

Day 26: More colored feathers on breast

June 7, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0607-001In their fourth week of life, the chicks undergo significant changes almost daily.  Around day 25, the brown tips to the secondaries become clearly visible, and the number of coloured feathers visible on the breast increases noticeably.  Behaviourally, they are rarely resting on their tarsi anymore at this age.

At day 26, the development continues in terms of the increasing covering of juvenile feathers on the breast.  The area on the head bare of down also continues to expand.