Lawrence Peregrines: view from outside!

June 18, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I0739-001The peregrine chicks and adults were very active around the Ayer Mill Clock Tower late Monday afternoon.  The chicks were moving around non-stop and wing flapping with added energy.  The adults made a large number of aerial loops around the Clock Tower under mostly cloudy skies, winds from SW at 14MPH and gusts up to 21mPH, and temp at 89F!  The adults seemed to be in a playful mode and made a number of mock combat moves, but never making contact.

 

_W7I0862-001Finally, the female made a number of final loops and then landed on the outside perch pole and remained for a while!

Day 36: more wing flapping!

June 18, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Sunrise this morning was at 5:06AM. The peregrines started of this morning under fair skies, winds from the south at 7MPH, and temp at 70F.  The forecast for the day ahead calls for a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3pm. Increasing clouds and hot, with a high near 98!! Heat index values as high as 101. Southwest wind 6 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

2018.0618-001And then there were two?  After the first watch this morning, it looked like only two chicks in the nest box!! The third one was hiding underneath the web cam. Looking back, at 28 days, or 4 weeks old, the young falcons really began to show their juvenile plumage, and became much more active around the nest box. They started much more active wing flapping, which helps to shed the down.  At 35 days, or 5 weeks, they became well feathered and most of the down has been lost, though some adheres patchily to the young birds. The quill feathers are quite strongly developed, though the wings and tail are still short and rounded.

At day 36, the chicks look almost like full-fledged juveniles.  They are spending much of their day flapping their wings, which both strengthens their flight muscles and shakes loose some of the few remaining down feathers.  In the midst of wing flapping frenzy, those remaining bits of down go airborne!

 

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 35: wing muscles stronger!

June 17, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Happy Father’s Day!  The peregrines started the day with clear skies, bright sun, calm wind conditions, and temp at 67F. Sunrise at 5:06 AM.  Day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming southeast around 6 mph in the afternoon.

2018.0617.2-001The chicks are ramping up the wing flapping big time.  At this point in the cycle, they are very active in movements around the nest box, and the biggest priority is working the wing muscles.  While watching them, you are able to get a sense of anticipation, as they ready for first flight.  They were working themselves into a frenzy just before 9AM.  The action was so intense, they whipped bits of down and feather debris into the air around them inside the nest box, as seen in photo on left.

 

2018.0617.1-001On 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.  The female continues to provide regular feedings, and you can sense their readiness for the next feeding when then stand and call for food!

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 34: few remaining down feathers!

June 16, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Saturday morning at 5:06 AM under clear skies, bright sun, wind, temp. The forecast for the day ahead calls for a picture perfect day with low humidity, mostly sunny skies, light NW winds up to 8MPH, and highs into the mid-80s. 

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 6.15.52 AMApproaching 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. Just before 6AM this morning, the chicks were just hanging out, walking around, and looking out, with some intermittent wing flapping.  Minutes before 6AM, the female arrived for a feeding session with all gathered around!

 

 

 

2018.0616.2It is consistently the rule for male Peregrines, in common with most other raptors, to do the bulk of the hunting while the young are in the nest, as well as during the egg stage.  The contribution to the hunting by the female varies quite a bit, but is usually small, and she spends most of her time near the nest, ready to protect her little ones against predators. At about 3 weeks old the female may do more hunting, and the male amy bring food items directly to the chicks.

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 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