Lawrence Peregrines: copulation

March 27, 2018 in lawrence peregrines, Near the Clock Tower, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts


Made a pass by the Ayer Mill Clock Tower while heading to Industrial Way to observe the winter crow roost.  Skies were overcast, winds were E at 7MPH, and temps in mid-forties.  The male was in the nest box and then hopped out onto the wooden perch pole.  The female arrived and landed on the SW corner of the New Balance building at 200 Merrimack Street.  She cleaned her bill and then made a few soft calls to the nearby male.  He swooped off of the perch pole and landed atop the female with talons carefully tucked in.

During copulation the female is pitched forward,making an angle of about 45 degrees with respect to the perch The copulation wail is given throughout.  As the male mounts,the female spreads her wings out at the elbow about one-fourth open. The tail, up and to the side, may be partly spread.


_W7I4933-001The male flaps his wings throughout copulation, maintaining an upright posture with the neck extended and bent in a curve. Usually the male gives one or two bursts of the Chitter vocalization just before,during,and/or just after mounting and then Eechips sporadically. Some individuals give bursts of Chitter throughout.

Toward the end of copulation the male stops his tail movements pressing his cloaca against the female’s.  Rapid wing-beats accompany this tail-press.  The female may spread her tail partly at this time,and the male departs with a Hitched-Wing Display directly afterwards.

Literature Cited:

Cade, T. J., J. H. Enderson and J. Linthicum. 1996a. Guide to Management of Peregrine Falcons at the eyrie. Boise, ID: The Peregrine Fund, Inc. (Excerpt: Linthicum, Janet. Observing Breeding Behavior)

Wrege, P. H. and T. J. Cade. 1977. Courtship behavior of large falcons in captivity. Raptor Res. no. 11:1-46.

Lawrence Peregrines: copulating

April 5, 2017 in Near the Clock Tower

_W7I1317-001Mating starts as many as four weeks, or more, before egg laying and continues through the process, up to several times an hour.  The male will mount the female, typically no longer then ten seconds, then he will disengage and fly off. Fertilization of an egg happens every 48 hours. After being fertilized, it takes an egg 24 hours to develop and be laid… resulting in a new egg being laid every 48 hours!  We are likely a day or two away from the first egg being laid, if it hasn’t happened all ready!

Peregrine Falcons: Woburn – Copulating!

April 18, 2016 in Peregrine Falcon Woburn

CF2C7788-001Made an early visit to observe the Woburn Falcons and found the female hunkered down in incubation mode.  She may have laid one or two eggs at this point.  Also had a chance to observe further copulation activity. Typically the copulation activity ends after the third egg is laid, so we may be close to the end of the egg laying cycle!

Peregrines in copulation mode

March 8, 2014 in Near the Clock Tower

What a blessing to be able to observe, monitor, and document the Lawrence Peregrines over the last 2.5 years.  As an update from prior post, the peregrines continue to both be seen daily around the Clock Tower on Merrimack St. in Lawrence.  On Tuesday morning, had a strong feeling to dedicate extra time before work to stop, wait, and observe.  Just a few minutes before departing, the male peregrine went flying by and then landed on a perch. In an unusual twist, the male then changed perch locations 3 times in a few minutes.  He then perched on a stub iron beam just below the roof line above the loading docks at 200 Merrimack St.  This a is a regular perch.  To my surprise, another peregrine call emerged and really caught my attention!  The female was perched 2 floors below.  I’m thinking that……this could become interesting!  The female continued to call, turned her head, and many times looked up at the male while calling. Well, it is that time of year, and I’ve been fortunate to observe this pair in copulation mode in prior years.

From the Cornell Labs Birds of North America Online, here is a very accurate description of the peregrine copulation sequence: “Either sex solicits copulation.  Elements of solicitation displays may begin 3 weeks prior to copulation.  Female solicitation begins with vertical head-low bow accompanied by a whine when male is still at a distance.  As male approaches, female assumes horizontal head-low posture perpendicular to or facing away from male with panel feathers raised, accompanied by whine, and may be held up to 30 seconds.  The male mounts from the air.  He flies in and prepares to mount.

The female sleeks her feathers, crouches and leans forward and may move her tail up and to the side. During copulation, the female is at a 45 degree angle with wings slightly lifted and extended from elbow, sometimes with her tail partly spread.The male maintains an upright position during copulation by flapping high above his body and balancing on his tarsi with closed toes and feet turned inward.  The male chitters while she gives a copulatory wail.  It is fairly loud.

Completed copulations begin at least 2 weeks prior to egg laying.  During completed copulations, full cloacal contact ranges about 5 seconds earlier in the season, then up to 10 seconds.  The copulation activity is normally conducted in close proximity to the nest.  Copulations continue until the final egg is laid.” This sequence was exactly 10 seconds based on the time stamp on the photos!

For those with an interest, full photo sequence posted: