Day 27: leg bands update!

June 9, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

After sunrise at 5:07 AM, the peregrines started off the day under clear skies, calm wind conditions, and temp at 60F. The day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 81. West wind 5 to 8 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

2018.0609.1Just after 8:30 AM this morning, the peregrine chicks were laying around and snoozing in a loose huddle.  It is always notable to watch them become alert and ready for a nest feeding.  They rise up, look around, and prepare themselves for the incoming female.  When she arrived back at the nest box, one of the chicks grabbed the prey and scooted off to a corner…a clear sign they are growing and asserting some independence!

Yesterday was yet another falcon leg banding day in Eastern Massachusetts.  Each year, peregrine falcons are fitted with metal leg bands to provide researchers with valuable data on peregrine survival rates, dispersal distances, and population growth rates. The species remains on the endangered species list at the state level, but with about 40 mating pairs of adults statewide, there are more peregrine falcons in Massachusetts than ever before.

We had a nice update on the annual falcon leg banding in Lawrence yesterday from Tom French, who serves as the assistant director of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDFW) Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.  Tom, and a number of volunteers, banded 3 male chicks in Lawrence.

When the very aggressive young adult female attacked Tom in the nest box, he bravely caught and banded her, too!  In the process of capturing the adult, they broke the unhatched egg and found a two-thirds developed embryo.  As always, they gathered all of the feather debris for further study.

2018.0609.2The standard leg band for Peregrines is a silver metal band issued by the federal Bird Banding Lab. The band is inscribed with a unique 9 digit code that allows birds to be identified during future resights or captures. The photo on the left provides a look at the silver federal band on the right leg. A second bi-color band is fitted on the falcon’s opposite leg and includes a field-readable alpha-numeric code. In recent years, falcons in the Eastern US are banded with BLACK over GREEN (2000 – present). There are also several orientations and alphanumeric character arrangements on the bands. When reading a band, an observer should note the top character and its orientation (vertical or horizontal), the top background color, then note the bottom character code, orientation, and color.

Reference cited:

The Center for Conservation Biology, Report Falcon Sightings, http://www.ccbbirds.org/what-we-do/research/species-of-concern/peregrine-falcon/report-sightings/

 

Day 26: leg bands today!

June 8, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Sunrise time this morning was at 5:07 AM.  The peregrines started off the day under clear skies, bright sun, light wind, and temp at 57F.  The day ahead calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 80. West wind 7 to 10 mph.

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 5.21.39 PMResearch has shown that male peregrines frequently cached food, both when feeding the female during incubation, and when feeding her and the nestlings later. Both sexes use these food stores and up to 35% of food items may come from nearby cache locations.  Half-eaten items may be returned to the cache for a further meal. This photo shows the chicks in a huddle with female on the perch.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 12.52.08 PMAt 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. Today was banding day.  In this photo, you’ll notice the chick in the foreground has a new leg band.  More details on the banding to follow!

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 25: feeding times!

June 7, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The peregrines started the day off under overcast skies, with with winds from the SW at 6MPH, and temp at 57F.  The day ahead calls for partly sunny skies, with a high near 75. Southwest wind 7 to 11 mph. Very nice!

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 2.41.16 PMIn 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 colored feathers visible on the breast increases noticeably.  Behaviorally, they are rarely resting on their tarsi anymore at this age. IN this image, the chicks are loafing in the nest box, and the female is perched looking in…..notice the changes in feather coloration.

0Z7kv5ayStSaMyleIxuoPg_thumb_18In terms of feeding times, the pattern is irregular overall.  The young are twice as likely to be fed during the early morning and evening periods than middle of the day.  There tends to be a higher frequency of feeding visits during morning or late afternoon/early evening.  Interval times between feeding visits usually averages about 2 hours, and average duration of a meal runs about 8-11 minutes, with duration of meal time increasing a bit as the chicks get older. Here we see a late day feeding just before 7:30 PM, with sunset at 8:18 tonight.

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 24: wing flapping!

June 6, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

This morning the peregrines began the day with overcast skies, winds from the NE at 3MPH, and temp at 55F. The day ahead calls for cloudy skies, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 6.02.09 AMBy day 24 the facial pattern behind the eyes is becoming increasingly evident, and some colouration is becoming visible on the upper breast as juvenile feathers develop beneath the down.   The legs are now just about fully developed, and thus banding can take place from this time onward. For these three peregrines, banding is scheduled for the end of the this week.  A number of other chicks in the extended Boston area either have been banded, or are scheduled to be banded.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 2.08.00 PMAfter the chicks can stand, at 22-23 days, the begging posture becomes more horizontal, though they feed in a normal standing position, and direct themselves at the parent’s beak. At about this age, they will start to regurgitate castings composed of indigestible remains, and wiping of the sides of the beak back and forth against the nest box edges.  Also, at about 24 days, signs of self-feeding became more pronounced with nestlings starting to garb at food instead of just begging for it!

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 23: female outside nest box!

June 5, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The peregrines started off today under overcast skies, winds from the SW at 7MPH, and temp at 55F.

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 6.58.56 AMBrooding has usually ceased when the young are three weeks old, and may even do so up to a week earlier. The female spends more time out of the nest box, but always nearby, on the perch pole, or another perch very proximate to the nest box. At night, you will see her typically at the edge of the nest box. Here, her tail feathers are just visible as she perch on outside pole.

As these 23-day-old chicks demonstrate, they alternate between standing on their feet and resting on their tarsi.  The feather debris continues all around the inside of the nest box. The  remaining egg, continues to provide  a reference point for their size.

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 22: flight feathers growing!

June 4, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

This morning the peregrines started the day with fog and light rain, winds from east at 5MPH and temp at 52F.  The day ahead calls for showers before 2pm, then showers likely with areas of drizzle between 2pm and 3pm, then areas of drizzle with a chance of showers after 3pm. Patchy fog before 5pm. High near 52. Northeast wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 2.08.00 PMThe chicks are approximately 22 days old.  As we watch these chicks, the amount of black protruding along the edge of the wing indicates that the flight feathers continue to develop at a rapid rate, but it isn’t until the wing is spread that the state of development can be fully appreciated.  The web cam angle, from above, makes this view of the underwing a bit tough to observe.   The underwing view, when available, reveals that the primaries are barely emerging from their shafts, while the secondaries are already considerably more advanced. Here they are,  all three in active feeding mode again!

Overall, the developing young peregrines tend to live together amicably, and there are usually not any epic battles, which are so characteristic of some other raptors, notably Bald Eagles. Young peregrines are given to socialization with each other in the nest ledge, right up to and well past first flight.

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 20: flight feathers grow!

June 2, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

This morning starts off with fair skies, calm wind conditions, and the temp already at 73F.  The forecast calls for a chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 83. Light and variable wind becoming north 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

2018.0602.1-001Around 5:45 AM, the female checked into the nest box, walked around a bit, and the chicks thought food might be part of her visit.  After a few moments, the female departed and the chicks went back into loafing mode.  The nest box is littered with more feather debris than before, while the unhatched egg survives through all of the activity! At 6:08 AM, the female returns to the nest box with prey in her talons.

 

2018.0602.2-001They prey has been prepared outside the box and another feeding session is at hand.  At first, only the chick in the lower left hand corner engages in feeding while the other two watch from the upper left corner.  Then the second chick joins in and both are fed, and finally the third chick joins in too!  At 6:19 AM, the female grabs the remaining uneaten prey and departs.

Around day 20, some yellow/beige becomes visible in the patch behind the eye, and a distinct dark edge to the wings becomes visible as the flight feathers continue to grow in length beneath the layer of down.  The dark eye patch is becoming larger.

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 19: feet nearly full grown!

June 1, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

For the peregrines the morning started off under overcast skies, with winds from the south at 3MPH, and temp at 70F.  The forecast calls for scattered showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 2pm. Cloudy, with a high near 83. Southwest wind 3 to 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

2018.0601.1-001At 6AM this morning, the nest was calm and it looked again like the chicks were gone!  They were hiding out just under the web cam.  The female was perched on the lower left edge of next box.  She departed and returned moments later with prey in her talons.  It was an active and quick feeding session, started and finished in just over 5 minutes, not a moment wasted!  The female then went out to the perch pole, cleaned off her bill and sat for a while.  By 6:10 AM, the nest box appeared empty yet again!

2018.0601.2-001At 19 days of age, the chicks are roughly half the size of their parents, but their feet are already nearly full-grown, and thus appear disproportionately large.  Also at this age, a small patch bare of down begins to appear behind the eyes.

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

Day 18: chicks in hiding!

May 31, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Another beautiful morning…..today the peregrines started things off with sunny skies, calm wind conditions, and temp at 54F just after sunrise at 5:10 AM.  The day ahead calls for more sunshine with a high near 82. Light south wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 22 mph in the middle afternoon hours!

2018.0531.2-001Over the past few days, the chicks have shifted to the north end of the nest box, up and under the web cam.  At times, it looks like no one is at home, and yet they are there.  Last year, a number of frantic emails came in with alarm and concern that somehow the chicks were gone…..not!  This morning, same thing, just out of sight, but with the female, with her tail just visible, out near the end of the perch pole, keeping a close eye on her little ones.  The unhatched egg remains intact through it all, and the nest box continues to be littered with feather debris from left over meals.

 

2018.0531.1-002Just after 6:30 AM, the female returned to the nest box with a morning meal.  At first she met the chicks in the lower left hand corner and then the female moved to her right and more towards the middle of the box.  This allowed for a fuller view of all three chicks.  It provides a nice perspective on how the chicks have grown larger, yet still are somewhat patient when being fed!

 

 

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html

 

Day 17: how they have grown!

May 30, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

With sunrise at 5:11 AM, the peregrines started off the day with clear skies, wind from the NE at 9MPH, and the temp at 62F.  The day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 74. Calm wind becoming east 5 to 8 mph in the morning.

2018.0530.1-001This morning the female dragged in a large bird, likely a rock pigeon, with a gray body, and a gray rounded tail with dark terminal band.  Unlike prior feedings, this was freshly caught and not stripped of feathers before being brought to the nest box.  The female went into a frenzy stripping the feathers and then feeding the nestlings.  The nest box at one point, was a swirl of feathers.  As the female was feeding, you are able to see the size of the nestlings, and how they have grown much larger over past two weeks!

 

2018.0530.2-001By day 17, the chicks have already grown considerably relative to the size of their parents, but still have a long way to go until they match their stature and reach full size.  In terms of feeding, the frequency of feeding visits by the parents depends on the size of the brood, but researchers have found that four meals per day was the norm during the nestling period.  Others have observed anywhere from 4-8 feeding visits per day, with some observing as many as 6-11 feeding visits per day.  Most observers agree that feeding begins very early in the morning, often before it is light enough for humans to see!

 

Literature cited:

Ratcliffe, D. 1993. The Peregrine Falcon. 2nd ed. Carlton, England: T. and A. D. Poyser.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation, Peregrine Falcon Development – Age Guide; http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/info/ageguide.html