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 43

June 16, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The remaining two Peregrines started off Father’s Day under overcast skies, light rain, and temp at 64F.  The day ahead calls for mostly cloudy skies with a few scattered showers around midday and into the afternoon. Still mild, but a bit cooler than Saturday with highs around 70!

2019.0616.1The two remaining chicks were seen in the nest box all day.  They are so ready to make first flight! One of the chicks hopped out onto the perch pole and was flapping vigorously, but not quite ready to launch into flight. The web cam will continue to operate, but little chance we will see any further action through the cam.  The chicks will be seen over the next many weeks in and around the area near the Clock Tower.  The chicks will be learning to fly while the parents continue to feed them. The young falcon, as it launches into the world, is a most handsome bird, and when the last vestiges of down are shed from the head, it has the regal appearance of the adult. The eyes have by now, taken on that extraordinary quality of lustrous vitality and intense watchfulness that even the best paintings cannot capture in its fullness.

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 41/42

June 15, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The remaining two Peregrines started off the day under fair skies, bright sun, Sw wind at 5MPH, and temp at 59F. The day ahead calls for mostly sunny, with a high near 83. Southwest wind 6 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Tonight, a chance of showers, mainly after 3am. Increasing clouds, with a low around 62. Southwest wind 7 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. 

2019.0614.2Many have asked, how do the chicks know when to fledge and make first flight?  What prompts the final push to launch out into the world forms he nest box? From what researchers have observed over the years, there is likely little particular action by the parent peregrines to induce their young to fly. The adults may reduce the food rations at this time, for the young are quite fat. Generally, the chicks fly when they are ready and moved by their own instinct. The first flight can be quite strong, but when it lands on a nearby perch, it may remain for many hours.  Food calls are exchanged, and the parent keeps close tabs from nearby. For a chick that has survived a fall from the nest, the adults will find, feed, and protect the chick until it is ready to fly away.

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 40

June 13, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The two remaining Peregrines started off the day under overcast skies, light wind, and temp at 56F.  The forecast calls for rain, mainly after 9am. Patchy fog between 2pm and 3pm. High near 63. Light southeast wind becoming east 8 to 13 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Tonight, rain likely before 7pm, then a chance of showers, mainly between 7pm and 11pm. Patchy fog before midnight. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 54. Northeast wind 5 to 7 mph becoming southwest after midnight. 

2019.0613.2Now the first chick has fledged and the other two will follow shortly! Just after 6AM this morning, the female dropped off prey and the two chicks went into a scrum to attack the food.  The rumbled with each other over the food in a tug of war….quite a show. The remaining two continue vigorous wing flapping as they perch at the outer edge of nest box and look for their sibling nearby. First flight may happen at any time of day. The males will typically fledge first, and the females just a bit after, but not always the case.

Literature cited:

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

 

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 39 – male fledges…1st flight!

June 12, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The Peregrines started this morning off under fair skies, bright sun, calm wind conditions, and temp at 53F.  The forecast calls for sunny skies, with a high near 79. Light and variable wind becoming south around 6 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, partly cloudy, with a low around 52. South wind around 6 mph becoming calm after midnight.

2019.0612.3-001The first chick fledged some time last night of first thing this morning….right on schedule!  Checked in on the chicks just about 6:30PM through the New Balance Falcon Cam.  All three were observed inside the nest box. At 6;30 this morning, only two were left in the box! The first chick has launched into first flight and left the nest box. This cover photo shows the two remaining chicks and this photos shows the three of them together last night. The fledged chick was nowhere to be seen in and around the general area.  They do tend to stay very close at first!

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 38….ready for flight!

June 11, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The Peregrines started off the day under overcast skies with and fog, wind SE at 6MPH, and temp at 65F.  The forecast calls for showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 11am, then a chance of showers between 11am and 2pm. Patchy fog between 10am and 11am. High near 76. Southeast wind 5 to 13 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Tonight, mostly clear, with a low around 51. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.

2019.0612.1Just before 6AM, the three chicks were observed hanging on the outer ledge of the nest box, gazing westward.  The preen a bit, jump around, bob and turn their heads, and continue with vigorous wing flapping.  Fledging, or first flight is close at hand, and they seem to know they are ready to launch into flight. Overall, the female chicks develop more slowly than males, and retained their lingering down just a bit longer.  Age at first flight varies from 5 to 6 weeks.  One researcher found an average of 40 days, with males usually flying before females. The normal range runs about roughly 38 -46 days based on some observations, with many peregrines in Eastern Mass. making first flight, on average, around 40 days. Stay tuned!

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 37

June 10, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The hungry Peregrines started to today off under fair skies, wind from SW at 7MPH, and temp at 56F.  The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Tonight, showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 3am. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Patchy fog after 2am. Low around 62. Southeast wind 7 to 9 mph. 

2019.0610.1-001Just before 6AM this morning, the chicks were perched on the outer edge of the nest box overlooking the parking lot below.  At 5:58AM the female arrived with food and the largest chick grabbed it and went to the far back left corner.  A bit later, there was a tug of war over the food.  Aside from food battles and feedings, they now spend their time wing flapping, and running around the nest box.  While resting they will now perch at the outer edge of nest box.  The last bits of down have still seen on their backs, but not much left. At day 37, aside from perhaps a tuft of down feathers also remaining on the crown, peregrine chicks are fully developed and ready to take flight.  Their next major change in appearance will be around one year of age, when they begin to molt and acquire their adult plumage as their feathers are replaced.

By now, the chicks are much more active and very restless, and they take advantage of whatever  space the nest box has to offer.  They will hold on for dear life as they flap wildly on the outer edge of the nest box.  They will face outward as well as straddle the edge of the box.  They are also estimating the distance to the nearby rooftop off to the right.  This rooftop offers them a proximate landing pad after initial launch!

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 35/36

June 8, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The Peregrines started off the day under fair skies, calm winds, and temp at 55F. The day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 79. Northeast wind 3 to 7 mph. Tonight, clear, with a low around 52. Light southeast wind.

2019.0609.2Looking 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, along with all the feather remnants and other debris!

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 Peregines: Day 34

June 7, 2019 in Near the Clock Tower

The Peregrines began the day under fair skies, calm wind, and temp at 55F. The day ahead calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 78. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon. Tonight, mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming clear, with a low around 56. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

2019.0607.2Approaching 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. Later in the afternoon, the chicks were just hanging out, walking around, and looking out, with some intermittent wing flapping.  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