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!

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!

Lawrence Peregrines: female south side

January 17, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I3871-001A cold sunny morning with the female peregrine basking in the morning sun on the south side of the Ayer Mill Clock Tower.  She is perched on a ledge above and to the left of the south side clock face.  This is a very regular perch location in the morning during the colder months of the year!

Lawrence Peregrines: just hanging out!

January 4, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I6460-001Made a pass by the Lawrence Peregrines this morning and was able to locate both male and female in proximate perch locations.  The female was perched on the south side of the Clock Tower on the ledge above and to the right of the clock face with the male on an east side, sunny side, ledge below the clock tower.  Both remained in place with little movement for more than 20 minutes!



Lawrence Peregrines: female upper west ledge

December 29, 2016 in On the Clock Tower

_w7i6093-001Over past few months, at least one of the Lawrence Peregrines has been seen in the morning hours, perched on one of the ledges on the west side just above and to the left of the clock face.  This morning, it looks like it is the female just hanging out and stretching a bit with no worries.


Lawrence Peregrine: weathervane perch!

December 7, 2016 in On the Clock Tower

_w7i1754-001A very dark and overcast morning in Lawrence!  After a diligent search, discovered one of the adult peregrines perched atop the weathervane.  It remained on perch for over twenty minutes with a constant turning of the head to watch all movement below.

Lawrence Peregrine: taking flight!

December 1, 2016 in On the Clock Tower

After no sightings earlier in the week, discovered the male peregrine falcon_w7i9328-001 in the middle of a morning snack on a ledge above the east facing clock face this morning under bright sun and very blue skies!  Upon completion of the snack, it launched into flight off to the south, made a big loop and landed on the rear strut of the NW facing weathervane!

Lawrence Peregrines: male perched atop!

November 8, 2016 in On the Clock Tower

_w7i6572-001Arrived at Clock Tower in Lawrence this morning and searched all over for the peregrines, only to find the male perched atop the bulb at the tippy top of the weathervane. The Ayer Mill Clock Tower is the world’s largest mill clock. Its four big glass faces are only 6 inches smaller than Big Ben in London. It is the most treasured icon of Lawrence, MA and reaches a height of 267 feet.  This clock tower’s four dials, lit by 125 bulbs on each face, and a 6,000-pound bell make it a well known landmark in the extended Merrimack Valley!

Lawrence Peregrines: female at sunset!

November 1, 2016 in On the Clock Tower

_w7i4326-001At this time of year, just before we hit Daylight Savings Time, it remains a nice treat to be able to make ashore visit late afternoon for a look at the peregrines, especially at the end of a sunny day with that last hour golden sunlight.  This photo was taken with about 20 minutes until sunset as the unbanded female struck a relaxed pose on the Clock Tower.  She was perched on a ledge below the clock face and on the NW corner of the building just above the next box!