Peregrine Falcons: copulating in Woburn!

March 18, 2018 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I3264-001Made a short stop to observe the Peregrine Falcons in Woburn this morning.  Upon arrival, stopped initially at quite a distance to focus binoculars on the female.  She was perched on an upper ledge well to the west of the nest ledge.  Moments later, from out of sight, the male launched into a big swooping dive and then moved up towards the female.  He approached her from the air and landed on her back with clenching his talons in a ball and resting on his tarsi.

Typically, as the male prepares to mount, the female sleeks feathers, crouches, and leans forward, and may move her tail up and to side. During copulation, the female is normally at an angle of about 45° with wings slightly lifted and extended (from elbow), sometimes tail partly spread. The male makes every effort to maintain an upright position throughout copulation by flapping wings high above body and balancing on his tarsi with closed toes and feet turned inward. During copulation, the male’s neck is extended and curved; he chitters while she gives copulatory wail.

After close to ten seconds, the male departed and landed in the nest ledge and the female remained in place.

Reference cited:

White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.660

 

Peregrine Falcon: Woburn

March 12, 2018 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I2207-001A short visit to the quarry in Woburn under clear skies, bright sun, light wind, and temp around 24F.  While scanning all around with no peregrines in sight, a streaking bird came in from the west, one of the peregrines, and swooped up in long arc, to the nest ledge.  It spent a bit of time preening.

One thing the peregrine falcon does a lot is preening. A number of hours are spent each day, particularly on the care of feathers.  The preening is in fact a necessity to keep feathers net and clean!

Peregrines chasing Ravens: Woburn

February 7, 2018 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I6848-001The peregrines reacted to calls and activity of nearby Raven pair; the female made a number of flight loops out and around area of Ravens and back to a ledge perch each time. No direct approach towards the Ravens, but a gentle and firm message of territorial warning!

According to Tom Cade’s proposed model, with nesting cliff as center: there are a series of threshold perimeters surround eyrie with decreasing defense as distance from eyrie increases. Inner perimeter may be only 200 m; within that, attacks always occur. In outer perimeter, attacks only occur over food or favored perches.

_W7I6947-001The peregrines may be seen making flight patrols of area around nesting cliff.  This may take place when adults fly along cliff face or top to a given distance, turn, and repeat course, frequently in seemingly relaxed, but intentional flight. Often intruders, including Ravens, Red-tailed Hawks, and others are stooped at, sometimes jointly by pair, and loud, assertive cack calls are given.  The message of territorial boundaries is being conveyed loud and clear!

Literature cited:

White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.660

Female Peregrine feeding: Woburn

January 29, 2018 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I6174-001Made a morning to visit to Woburn Peregrines and found the female ripping apart freshly caught prey atop utility pole just to the right of the Herley NE building.

Here is a recap on  peregrines and typical eating after the capture process from Birds of North America Online:

After biting into neck, falcon carries will typically carry prey to habitual plucking perch (tree snag, cliff side, utility pole, building) for consumption, or to cache site. Prey too heavy to carry in flight are partially consumed on ground; remains may later be carried to eyrie or plucking perch, or left in place for later return. 

_W7I6104-001The peregrine begins eating by tearing off head; usually consumed if small, picked apart and eaten or discarded if large. Continues by pulling apart and eating skin and flesh of neck (also bones of small prey), working down to breast. Depluming of breast precedes tearing into pectoral muscles, which are usually totally consumed. Viscera may or may not be eaten; often gut is pulled out and discarded, but remaining organs, especially heart and liver, usually eaten. Legs of large prey may or may not be picked clean.

Appears to use tomial teeth to break long bones of wings and legs of smaller prey before swallowing. Large prey too heavy to carry back to eyrie are well plucked wing and tail feathers removed, head removed, eviscerated, and sometimes posterior half of carcass detached from breast, before latter carried back to eyrie to feed young.

Literature cited:

White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.660

Peregrine Falcon: Woburn – bulging crop

December 6, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I1470-001Made a short visit to search for the peregrines in Woburn under mostly cloudy skies, wind blowing from the west at 16MPH with gusts over 20MPH.  Observed the adult female falcon on a perch to the left of the nest ledge.  Great looks at the female with a very full crop. The crop is the name of the part of the falcon’s anatomy that serves as a storage area for food until it is passed to the stomach – often seen as a bulge in the upper part of the bird’s chest area when it is full.

Peregrine Falcons: Woburn pair on pole

November 12, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

_W7I6964-001Made a visit to the Peregrine Falcons in Woburn on sunny Sunday afternoon.  Discovered both adults perched on the double cross bar utility pole located on the south side of the main parking lot.  It was a beautiful afternoon with bright light, little wind and temps in middle 40’s.  Had a nice opportunity to pause for closer looks at the female as she was resting with a full crop after a recent meal.

_W7I6964-002Took a moment to observe and appreciate the nostril cone; falcons have a cone (baffle) just inside each nostril that disrupts the air flow and reduces the pressure of the air entering the respiratory system…also a nice look at the tomial tooth, known as the “killing tooth.” It is a notch on the cutting edge of the upper beak that is used to sever the prey’s spinal column.

Peregrine Falcons: Woburn preening

November 1, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts

_W7I6421-001Had a nice visit to Woburn quarry this morning under sunny skies, calm wind conditions, and temps in high 30’s.  Both adult peregrines were seen perched in regular locations on the quarry wall.  Lots of time was dedicated to scratching, preening, and vocalizing. Peregrines say “ee-chup” when they are looking at another peregrine.  They say it softly to their mates during ledge displays and more loudly when a new peregrine shows up.   The new peregrine may be an intruder or a potential mate.  It takes a lot of practice, listening and watching from the ground, to be able to tell whether an ee-chup means “Hello, my love” or “I see you, Intruder!”   Unless you can see both peregrines having the conversation, don’t assume you know what ee-chup means.  This morning, they were just expressing fondness towards each other!

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Peregrine Falcons: Watertown

October 8, 2017 in Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

While heading home, had a nice opportunity to check on the Peregrine Falcons in Watertown.  This is a known nesting pair that have been in residence the last few years.  It was mostly sunny, with east winds  at 10MPH, and temp at 60F.

_W7I8759-001The adult male was seen on the front of the building in great light.  It was  stretching and preening.  Adults commonly stretch single leg or wing laterally; stand on one leg and stretch opposite leg back to side, simultaneously stretching wing from same side across extended leg. Peregrines also double-wing stretch (warble), bird bends forward and down raising both wings over back, sometimes fully extending wings at wrist; seen more in fledglings; may be followed by wing-flapping.

_W7I8953-001The larger female was seen nearby at a higher elevation near the nest box.  She then departed, made two aerial loops, and landed near the male at same elevation 8-10 feet away.  She proceeded to communicate with the male with head bowing and other movements.  In this display, her approach was entirely horizontal (head, body, and tail all in one plane) with a slight lowering of her head.  Her bill was pointed at the male and not towards the ledge. She paused to look at the male infrequently.  Fascinating to watch!

Peregrine Falcon: Woburn male

October 2, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts

_W7I8655-001A Monday morning flyby visit with clear skies, bright sun, winds from NW at 5MPH, and temp at 63F.  The adult male was perched on the nest ledge and preening with its bill.  Preening keeps the feathers neat, preserving their streamlining and insulating effects as well as their color pattern.  Preening may help to remove any possible external parasites.

Peregrine Falcon: Woburn chase scene!

September 28, 2017 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I7913-001After arrival in the general quarry area, it took a while to locate the male.  He was well hidden behind a small clump of weeds growing out of the rocks.  A number of local pigeons were active flying around the quarry.  It was partly sunny, with winds from the north at 15MPH and the temp was 73F.  Without much warning, the male launched into flight in a springboard takeoff in pursuit of the pigeons.

 

 

_W7I8040-001He made a half-hearted chase and then looped back around to land at the nest ledge!  He remained vigilant in watching the continuing pigeon flight activity!