Lawrence Peregrine: hatchlings first days!

May 4, 2020 in In the Nest Box, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

2020.0504.1-001What an amazing weekend! Temps neared 80 for many communities yesterday afternoon, with that 78 in Boston, being the warmest day since October 7th of last year. Today, temps step back by about 10 degrees, hovering around 70 early this afternoon. We’ll also have more towering cumulus clouds that build up, producing a few scattered, brief moving showers mid to late afternoon. While most of the day is dry, occasionally the 4 new Peregrine hatchlings may have a passing shower or two in the afternoon! This first photo shows the female returning to the nest with fresh food for the chicks!

2020.0504.2-001The female was seen brooding and feeding the chicks this morning around 7:30AM.  She broods all four chicks.  She departs for a few moments and returns with food and she prepares to feed the chicks, while taking a few bites for herself. The female assumes an increasingly elevated brooding position as the chicks grow, and is especially careful with her feet when rising and moving away.  The brooding female gently pulls back with the underside of its beak, as needed, one of the small chicks, which moves out from under her, as she might hook a displaced egg. Female attentiveness to brooding depends on weather, the number of nestlings, and their age.  Brooding tends to become increasingly sporadic after about the eight day.

 

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: hatchlings!!

May 1, 2020 in In the Nest Box

2020.0501.2-001Finally the fourth egg has hatched and the hatchlings are all gathered in close together and being warmly brooded by the female! In most years, the eggs tend to hatch close to one another in a fairly well synchronized way, and within 24 – 48 hours of each other.  We have seen the remaining egg shells around the hatchlings.  The adults may move these around a bit with their bills.  They may seem to nibble a bit on the broken pieces, but they don’t have a well developed habit for disposal of the egg shells.  For the most part, the remaining pieces of egg shell will become trampled. Here the male departs as the female gets down to feeding the hatchlings!

 

2020.0501.3-001The hatchlings have a delicate white down at birth, with none of the coloration that will come later with true feathers.  They form a feathery white cluster in the first few days and remain in very close contact with one another as though in a rugby scrum! It is always a joy to watch the female feeding in her new little family. she does so with care and tenderness, making sure all receive a fair portion.

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 33 – Pantaloons!

June 6, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The Peregrines started the day off under overcast skies, fog and mist, wind conditions calm, and temp at 59F. The day ahead calls for showers and thunderstorms likely before 11am, then a slight chance of showers after 3pm. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming north 5 to 7 mph in the morning.  Tonight, mostly clear, with a low around 55. Light and variable wind.

2019.0606.1Day 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. It 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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 32

June 5, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The peregrines started off the morning with a few clouds, wind from the S at 9MPH, and temp at 59F. The day ahead calls for mostly cloudy skies with isolated showers this morning, then scattered showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. Highs in the mid 70s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph with gusts up to 20 mph. Tonight, cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, then thunderstorms and showers likely after midnight. Areas of fog after midnight. Some thunderstorms may produce gusty winds and heavy rainfall. Lows in the lower 60s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. 

_W7I4428-002The webcam was down for most of the day.  Had nice looks at the female and chicks from outside late afternoon.  At one point, the female became more alert to a nearby distraction, began vocalizing, and then launched into flight. Overall by 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. The oldest of the three, has the darkest back and fewest remaining bits of down on its back and elsewhere.  Over the next few days, the wing flapping, and jumping around the box will increase substantially!

 

The calling for food, by the chicks, increases in strength as the young grow, and this call, develops into a wail similar to the parent’s call; and this call can be heard from quite a distance, perhaps even a mile away. Parental creaking noises on arrival with food, increases as the young mature. In the second half of the overall 40 day nestling period, a youngster consumes quite large amounts of food and its intake eventually exceeds that of an adult of the same sex!

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

Peregrine Falcons: Day 31

June 4, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started off the day under fair skies, wind from the Sw at 6MPh, and  temp at 47F.  The day ahead calls for increasing clouds, with a high near 68. West wind 5 to 11 mph. Tonight, a chance of showers, mainly after 10pm. Cloudy, with a low around 54. West wind 5 to 9 mph becoming calm in the evening. 

2019.0604.2By 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. In this photo, the chick in the back left corner was wing flapping, the others have been preening.  The darker feathers are coming in all over, and the down is decreasing rapidly!

Around this time, a nestling can rip up a prey item quite well, and at 39 days it soon demolishes even intact prey items. At this stage, prey is usually left intact for the young to deal with, though the parent may still break food up into smaller pieces.  There is, however, a considerable overlap between parental and self-feeding, and adults will present young with pieces of torn-up prey until they fledge, especially if nestlings solicit.

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 30!

June 3, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

This morning the Peregrines started the day under fair skies, wind from the west at 6 MPH, and the temp at 55F.  The forecast calls for sunny skies, with a high near 68. West wind 6 to 11 mph increasing to 12 to 17 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, mostly cloudy during the early evening, then becoming clear, with a low around 47. West wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.

2019.0603.1It’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. In this photo, the larger female chick had just been flapping and the darker feather colors, on the wings, back, and tail are very visible! Feather ruffling with body and head shaking is now marked and increasing time is spent in exercise, notably walking on the feet and wing-flapping.  The young are now better able to eject their droppings out of the nest box. They present their backs to the edge of the nest box, but are careful not to fall out, and have a fairly well developed sense of the gravitational hazard…..but sometimes, it is…….look out below!

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 29

June 2, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started the day off under continuing overcast skies, light winds, and temp at 49F.  The forecast calls for a chance of showers before 11am, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 5pm. Areas of fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 71. South wind 3 to 7 mph. Tonight, a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Areas of fog between 2am and 3am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54. South wind 5 to 8 mph becoming west after midnight. 

The chicks have been lazy most of this morning and have huddled in the far left corner.  They take turns getting up, walking around a bit, preening, and then slumping back into the huddle. By 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, as you see in this photos. The wing and tail feathers are developing strongly and body feathers begin to appear in lines and patches along the back and breast.  Preening becomes a major activity.

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 28

June 1, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started off today under fair skies, wind from the NE at 3MPH, and temp at 55F. The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 77. Calm wind becoming southeast 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. For tonight, a slight chance of showers between 1am and 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 54. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light after midnight. 

2019.0601.2The chicks were seen moving around the nest box this morning, at times restless and flapping their wings in an awkward way, and then going back into huddle mode for period of time. Just after 6:15PM, the female arrived with a freshly caught Blue Jay for dinner.  As 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. 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.

Around this time in the growth cycle, the chicks may sometimes join their parents in alarm calling instead of falling silent. They are able to follow the flight patterns of their parents outside the nest box.  They will also become more vocal in calling for food.  As we see in this photo, they begin to grab or steal the incoming food offerings, and sometimes head away from the other chicks.  Sleeping and dozing still occupy a large part of the day, but close huddling begins to diminish.

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 27

May 31, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines are starting off the day under overcast skies, light SW wind, and temp at 58F.  The forecast calls for patchy fog before 7am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 75. Northwest wind 3 to 8 mph. Tonight, partly cloudy, with a low around 52. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

2019.0531.1Over the past many days the facial pattern behind the eyes is becoming increasingly evident, and some coloration is becoming visible on the upper breast as juvenile feathers develop beneath the down.   The legs are now just about fully developed, and that made banding possible earlier in the week. A number of other chicks in the extended Boston area either have been banded, or are scheduled to be banded.

 

 

After the chicks can stand, 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, signs of self-feeding became more pronounced with nestlings starting to grab 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

Lawrence Peregrines: feeding time

May 30, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

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Had a nice opportunity to watch the Peregrines from below the nest box just before 6PM.  There were a few clouds, wind from the S at 9MPH and temp at 65F. The male was circling the Clock Tower a number of times in big lazy circles.  One of the chicks was seen looking west out of the nest box opening.   In the days ahead, the chicks will move closer to the edge of the nest box and will spend more time looking out and also exercising their wing muscles.  It’s always a joy to see them lined up at the edge and preparing to fledge, or make first flight.

 

 

_W7I3552-001Meanwhile, just around the corner, the female had been provided a next meal, and she was the one ripping apart the fresh caught prey with loose feathers flying every which way in the light wind.  Once she had completed her preparations, she launched into flight and circled around into the nest box and offered up a meal to the little ones!