Lawrence Peregrines: preening and rousing

October 3, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

Made a late afternoon visit to the Clock Tower under clear skies, bright late day sun, light winds from the SE, and temp at 64F.  The adult male had just returned to a ledge on the NW corner below the clock face.

_W7I9115-001One thing the peregrine falcon does a lot is preening. Many hours each day is spent on the care of feathers, beak, cere and feet. Sometimes it seems like pure vanity, but it is in fact a necessity. Without well preened feathers the peregrine could become soaking wet when it rains, become ill and die. Or feathers that are not well groomed will cause drag when flying. When preening birds run their beaks through their feathers or scratching their heads with a toe.

_W7I9106-001Rousing is the the action of a peregrine erecting its feathers and then shaking them; part of grooming; a sign of a relaxed and content bird. Peregrines typically rouse (shake) after preening; also rouse during flight, particularly after leaving perch (unless to initiate a pursuit).

Lawrence Peregrines: adult male on upper ledge

August 28, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I4799-001Made a short visit to the Clock Tower with little to see upon arrival.  A few passing gulls and Double-crested Cormorants in flight over the Merrimack River.  Then a bolt of speed came in from the NW with a definitive flight pattern that could only belong to a peregrine.  Sure enough, the adult male arrived and with legs outstretched, landed on an upper ledge, above the west clock face, and in the shade.

Two Peregrine adults and one fledgling at Clock Tower

August 14, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I4114-001The 2017 hatch year fledglings made first flight almost 8 weeks ago.  Three of the fledglings have been seen regularly around the Clock Tower.  The first fledgling left and has not been seen since fledging.  At this stage of growth, parents provide two important things to the young falcons: predator protection as well as food supply.  Here, the adult female remains on guard for any predator threats.

 

 

_W7I4144-001The protection continues, but the food supply, as provided by the parents, begins to dwindle as they improve their ability to chase and capture prey.  The falcon experts suggest that most young peregrine falcons disperse on their own once they have become proficient at killing on their own.  This young peregrine may be the only one left around the natal site!

2017 Fledgling Peregrine Falcon

August 7, 2017 in On the Clock Tower

_W7I3938-001As the weeks move by, three of the four young peregrines that fledged this year continue to be seen around the Clock Tower and other nearby perch locations.  They remain somewhat dependent on parents for food and protection.  This was a late afternoon visit with one of the fledglings perched on the west side of the tower on an upper ledge just above the clock face.  No luck on being able to catch the leg bands for a positive ID!

Peregrine Falcon fledgling: Verizon Tower!

August 7, 2017 in Verizon Cell Tower

_W7I3895-001While scanning for Peregrine Falcons from near the Clock Tower mid-morning, saw a perched bird on the Verizon Cell Tower on Hampshire Street and made way over for a better look.  It was cloudy and overcast, but was able to get nice looks at one of the fledglings. It had a color-coded leg band but was unable to make out the alphanumeric code.  The fledglings usually find their way over to the Cell Tower after fledging for visits from time to time!

Day 35: Exercising the wing muscles!!

June 16, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0616-001On rare occasions male peregrines may take flight as young as 35 days, which is possible as they are fully developed at this age.  Usually they wait a few more days though, until their wing muscles are stronger through exercise in the nest area, and generally by the time they do take flight they have lost the last tufts of down.

Day 34: Within a few days of first flight!

June 15, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0615-001Approaching 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.  Here the female is providing another morning feeding and pauses to look to her left.

Day 33: Pantaloons!

June 14, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0614.02-001Day 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.  

This image captures a rare moment with both adults in the nest box; the male is on the ledge with leg bands!

Day 32: More vocal and active

June 13, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0613-001By 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.  However, on days with very high heat, the female may provide protective cover in the late afternoon sun with temps over 90F!

Day 31: Losing their down!

June 12, 2017 in In the Nest Box

2017.0612.01-001By 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. 

It’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. 

2017.0612.03-001By 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.