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 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: Day 25!

May 29, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started off today under overcast skies with fog and mist, wind from the N at 8MPH, and tempt at 46F. The forecast calls for patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. North wind 5 to 7 mph becoming light and variable. Tonight, a chance of showers, mainly after 8pm. Patchy fog between 11pm and 1am. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 50. Southeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

2019.0529.1Had early looks at peregrine chicks just before 5:30AM this morning, and now that the webcam has been cleaned….WOW, the view is much sharper!  The chicks are now growing much larger and exercising their wing muscles. In 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 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

Lawrence Peregrines: banding day!

May 28, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started off today under mostly cloudy skies, light NE winds, and temp at 53F.  The forecast calls for rain, mainly after 11am. High near 57. East wind 3 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. For tonight, rain before 7pm, then showers, mainly after 7pm. Patchy fog. Low around 48. Northeast wind around 7 mph. 

IMG_0796-001Made a brief check in just after 6AM this morning and the female was providing a morning meal to the growing chicks.  Today is banding day with staff from MassWildlife and a number of volunteers.  We met at the New Balance main entrance and proceeded up to the Clock Tower. Each year, peregrine falcons are fitted with metal leg bands to provide researchers with valuable data on peregrine survival rates, dispersal distances, and population growth rates. The species remains on the endangered species list at the state level, but with close to 50 mating pairs of adults statewide, there are more peregrine falcons in Massachusetts than ever before.

IMG_0803-001The leader of the annual falcon leg banding in Lawrence is Tom French, who serves as the assistant director of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDFW) Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.  Tom, staff from Mass Wildlife, and a number of volunteers, banded three chicks in Lawrence. we had two females and one male. Here is the second female to be banded: 66/BV. The standard leg band for Peregrines is a silver metal band issued by the federal Bird Banding Lab. The band is inscribed with a unique 9 digit code that allows birds to be identified during future resights or captures. The photo on the left provides a look at the silver federal band on the right leg.

IMG_0809-001 A second bi-color band is fitted on the falcon’s opposite leg and includes a field-readable alpha-numeric code. In recent years, falcons in the Eastern US are banded with BLACK over GREEN (2000 – present). There are also several orientations and alphanumeric character arrangements on the bands. When reading a band, an observer should note the top character and its orientation (vertical or horizontal), the top background color, then note the bottom character code, orientation, and color. The photo at left shows the young male with new leg band: 53/BU.

 

Reference cited:

The Center for Conservation Biology, Report Falcon Sightings, http://www.ccbbirds.org/what-we-do/research/species-of-concern/peregrine-falcon/report-sightings/

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 20!

May 24, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started the day off under mostly sunny skies, wind from the west at 10MPH, and gusts up over 20MPH, and the temp at 63F.  The day ahead calls for partly sunny skies, with a high near 68. Breezy, with a west wind 14 to 21 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 33 mph, so this means right into the nest box which continues to be lined with lots of feathers.Tonight calls for mostly cloudy skies, then gradually becoming clear, with a low around 48. Northeast wind 5 to 8 mph becoming calm in the evening.

2019.0524.2Here are the chicks being fed again while in the back left corner. At 19 days of age, the chicks are roughly half the size of their parents, but their feet are already nearly full-grown, and thus appear disproportionately large.  Also at this age, a small patch bare of down begins to appear behind the eyes. 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

Lawrence Peregrines: Day 17

May 21, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, On the Clock Tower, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The Peregrines started today off under clear skies, wind from the west at 14MPH, gusting to 22MPH, and temp at 57F just before 6AM.  The day ahead looks like mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Breezy, with a west wind 11 to 16 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 34 mph! Tonight’s forecast calls for mostly clear, with a low around 46. Northwest wind 8 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph…a very breezy day ahead.

2019.0521.3By day 17, the chicks have already grown considerably relative to the size of their parents, but still have a long way to go until they match their stature and reach full size.  In terms of feeding, the frequency of feeding visits by the parents depends on the size of the brood, but researchers have found that four meals per day was the norm during the nestling period.  Others have observed anywhere from 4-8 feeding visits per day, with some observing as many as 6-11 feeding visits per day.  Most observers agree that feeding begins very early in the morning, often before it is light enough for humans to see!

 

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