Peregrine Falcon chicks: Week 3

June 9, 2024 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

During the third week after hatching, peregrine falcon chicks (eyases) continue to experience significant physical and behavioral development.

Day 15-17:

Feather Development: The down feathers are gradually replaced by darker juvenile feathers, especially on the wings and back. These juvenile feathers are more streamlined and will eventually aid in flight.

Increased Size: The chicks continue to grow rapidly, with their weight now ranging between 250-400 grams (9-14 ounces). Their bodies become more robust, and their legs and feet grow stronger.

Hunger: Their appetite remains voracious, requiring the parents to provide a steady supply of food. The tiercel (male) continues to hunt frequently, bringing back prey which the falcon (female) helps to feed to the eyases.

Day 18-20:

Mobility and Coordination: The chicks’ movements become more coordinated. They start to stand on their feet more reliably and may take short, wobbly steps around the nest. This increased mobility helps them exercise their growing muscles.

Preening and Wing Flapping: They begin to preen more frequently, taking care of their developing feathers. Wing flapping becomes more common as they start to build the strength necessary for flight. These flapping exercises are crucial for developing their pectoral muscles.

Social Behavior: Interactions between siblings become more complex. They may engage in mock battles, which help them develop hunting and defensive skills. These playful activities are essential for learning social hierarchies and improving coordination.

Day 21:

Further Feather Development: By the end of the third week, the chicks have a noticeable amount of juvenile feathers. They still retain some of their down, but the sleek, darker feathers are becoming more prominent.

Weight and Size:Their weight continues to increase, with females generally larger than males. By now, the chicks weigh between 350-550 grams (12-19 ounces).

Vocalizations: Vocal communication becomes more sophisticated. The chicks use a variety of calls to communicate with their parents and each other, often demanding food with loud, persistent cries.

Independence: While still heavily reliant on their parents, the eyases begin to show more signs of independence. They explore their immediate environment more confidently, occasionally venturing to the edge of the nest.

Overall Development During the Third Week:

The third week is a period of intense growth and physical development for peregrine falcon chicks. Their transformation from fluffy, down-covered eyases to more sleek, feathered juveniles is well underway. The increased mobility, coordination, and strength they develop during this period are critical for their upcoming stages of development, particularly as they prepare for fledging. The parents continue to play a vital role in providing food and protection, but the chicks’ increasing independence and curiosity signal their gradual transition toward self-sufficiency.