Lawrence Peregrines: almost a week!

April 11, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

Had a nice opportunity to watch the female in the nest box this morning.  Just before 7AM, she raised herself up a bit and changed positions but remained over the 4 eggs.  Then at 7:07AM, she departed for a few minutes and returned to the box, and then back to incubating the eggs. During incubation, an observer may spend lots of time watching very little activity.  The peregrines take turns brooding the eggs. Typically, the female incubates about 2/3 of the time, often for four or more hours before the male relieves her. Males brood for shorter periods– typically 2 to 3 hours, and they brood less frequently. While one adult is brooding, the other may be out hunting. Brooding falcons still need to eat, after all. If they’re not hunting, the other falcon usually stays close to the nest.  The photo on the left shows the female sitting on eggs quietly and with great comfort.  She will adjust as she needs to but is not fidgety as the male tends to be!

IMG_9570

Sometimes while the female is brooding the eggs, the male will bring her food that he has hunted. She’ll eat the food, sometimes inside, and other times, outside the nest box while he takes a turn incubating, but then she’ll come back and take over– provided she can get him to move off the eggs. If he doesn’t move right away, she may stand in the nest box and wail at him. Wailing has different meanings for falcons, but in general it indicates dissatisfaction with the current situation.  Here they are together, inside the nest box at around 10:35 AM today, and she is wailing on him big time.

IMG_9571So if this female wails at her guy while he’s incubating, or in the nest box it’s her way of telling him she’s not happy that he’s still standing around, or sitting on the eggs. As with most other interactions between male and female peregrines, the female usually gets her way, though sometimes it takes a while for him to get the message!  Guess who’s usually walking away, with his head bowed low, after getting wailed at….the male!

Lawrence Peregrines: Egg #4!

April 5, 2019 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

2019.0405-001Checked on the nest box just after 6AM this morning under fair skies, wind from west at 9MPH, and temp at 31F. The forecast for today calls for mostly cloudy skies, with a high near 47. Light and variable winds becoming south 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. For tonight, rain and snow likely before 1am, then rain. Low around 36. South wind 6 to 8 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

After waiting almost an hour for a look this morning, the adults had a shift change at 6:53AM and this provided a quick peek at the 4th egg!  This egg was likely laid at some point overnight.  Had kept a close eye early evening last night and had a clear sighting of just 3 eggs just before sunset, with little egg laying movement seen up until dark settled in.

So now, the Peregrines shift into full and shared incubation duties that will last the next 30 days or so!  We are about a week ahead of last year’s egg laying time frame. With God’s grace the circle of life continues!

Lawrence Peregrines: addled egg, not hatching

May 18, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

Just after sunrise at 5:17 AM it was mostly cloudy, wind from NE at 13 MPH and temp at 58F.  The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 60. East wind forecast at 11 to 13 mph.

IMG_6837The female was observed around 6:20 AM this morning feeding those always hungry and growing chicks!  The fourth egg has not hatched, and at this point, it is unlikely to hatch.  In prior years, the falcons have had unhatched eggs.  An unhatched egg, may also be referred at as an addled egg.  This is an egg in which the developing embryo has died. Not to be confused with a clear or infertile egg, though in common usage the term is often applied to any egg gone bad.

IMG_6852Around 6:20 PM, after a lot of vocalizing, the female was provided with another meal, by the male for the chicks.  The photo shows the female returning to the nest box, with prey in her bill.  The bird in her bill has been stripped of feathers and is ready for her to rip apart for feeding purposes.  Also visible is the remaining unhatched egg.  This type of egg becomes known as as addled egg. Addled eggs are usually left, and may survive after the young have gone as dried and bleached relics, kicked to the side of the nest box, but they are often broken and trampled to pieces!

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: feeding time!

May 16, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The three chicks started off the morning under fair skies, calm winds, and temp at 56F.  The forecast for the day ahead calls for partly sunny, with a high near 61. East wind 3 to 8 mph.  Had nice looks at morning feeding session just after 5:30 AM, and the three chicks were very hungry and eager to gobble up the offered prey from the female.  The fourth and final egg remains unhatched.  Hopefully it will hatch some later today!

2018.0516-001Most brooding of the small young is performed by the female, though the male occasionally takes short turns.  No attempt is made to share brooding simultaneously.  Apart from weaker motivation for brooding, a male still has greater difficulty in covering a full brood of chicks than a clutch of eggs. Although the actions of the brooding falcon are essentially similar to those of an incubating bird, there are slight and gradual adjustments appropriate to the change of covering delicate but growing nestlings.  Leaning forward and stepping around gradually cease, but shuffling movements become important, evidently to place the feet below the chicks.  Rocking stops on hatching, and other settling motions are replaced by gentle lowering of the body onto the nestlings.

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: #3 Hatch!!

May 15, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines

2018.0515.2-001Had a nice chance to watch the peregrine chicks at noon today.  Hoping to get a glimpse under the incubating female for an update on number of hatchlings.  At this point almost 48 hours has passed since the second egg hatched, and the clock is ticking!  Finally, at 12:05 PM, the male entered the nest box bearing lunch and the two engaged in a classic food exchange.  In the process the female rose up and off the eggs, providing a clear view of the two hatchlings and the two remaining eggs.  It also meant we might be closer to the third egg hatching later in the day.  If we look back, the third egg was laid almost 72 hours after egg number two, so we are right in the zone for the next hatch to take place.

 

2018.0515.3-001Was only able to get a brief look a few times during the afternoon, and each time, no movement off the eggs.  Checked at 5:22 PM while driving home, and to my great delight, the female had departed and the nest was wide open.  A quick survey showed a clump of white in the middle, two broken shell halves nearby, and what looked to be a final intact shell in the foreground…the third chick had hatched and joined the brood.

 

 

2018.0515.4-001A few moments later, the female arrived into the nest box bearing prey and she started to feed the three chicks!  What a beautiful sight!  The tenderness and care that the female shows while feeding these little ones is so very special.  She is turning her head and craning her neck so that the little chicks will receive the food that they need and that will help them grow!

 

 

2018.0515.5-001The last image, and perhaps, favorite of the day, shows the three little newly hatched chicks eagerly stretching their necks forward and gaping tier mouths to receive the fresh pray from mother bear.  Given the amazing process of carefully incubating these eggs over the last month, we now have front row seats to watch this year’s family start their lives with love, care, and tenderness from very attentive parents!  This truly is the circle of life in the animal kingdom and it is always a precious sight to behold!

 

 

Literature cited:

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

Lawrence Peregrines: third hatch?

May 15, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Just before 6 AM, the peregrines started the day with fair skies, wind from the south at 3MPH, and temp at 61F.  The forecast for the day ahead calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 5pm. Some storms could be severe, with large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rain. High near 83. Light southwest wind increasing to 6 to 11 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

A line of storms will move through between 3pm-9pm, and will likely affect the evening commute. Some of these storms could be strong/severe.  This is the forecast from the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, indicating the most likely areas to see severe weather tomorrow.  With any strong/severe storm cells, the greatest threats will be strong/damaging wind gusts as well as heavy rain.  As with any thunderstorm, severe or not, lightning is a danger.

2018.0515.1-001The female was seen incubating and brooding first thing this morning.  She didn’t move for the longest time during my morning watch….no way of knowing if third egg hatched?  All eyes are upon the likely remaining two eggs, waiting for them to hatch.  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.  The 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!

Lawrence Peregrines: 2 hatchlings!!!!!

May 14, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

This morning started off with overcast skies, wind from the south at 5MPH, and temp at 53F.  The forecast for the day ahead calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 75. Southwest wind 3 to 7 mph.

2018.0514.1-001Looks like the second egg hatched last evening!  At 5:45 AM this morning, the female was observed nestled over the hatchlings and two remaining eggs.  One of the little fluff balls was seen peeking out from underneath the mother’s protective cover.  At 6:07 AM, the female rose up, walked to edge of nest box and departed, showing the two hatchlings and two remaining eggs.  She returned within a minute with fresh prey in her talons.  It was a small dark bird, but unable to make a positive identification.

 

 

2018.0514.2-002She spent a few minute tearing off the feathers, and then at 6:15 AM, she started to feed the little ones.  She rips up very small pieces and carefully feed the chicks.  She took her time and the chicks gobbled up all that was offered.  Just before 6:30 AM, the female grabbed the remains in her bill, and departed the nest to dispose of the carcass.

 

 

Now let’s take a look at an overview of growth and development over the next 40 days.  Here’s a bit of what to expect:

At 5 days after hatch, their mass has doubled. The eyas can sit with relative ease, and the open eyes are more round.

At 6–8 days of age the second down (mesoptile or preplumulae) starts to emerge, first on humeral and alar tracts but no down visible on belly at 6 day, although on the legs and belly at 8 days. Also second down is well out on the wings and looks a bit blueish and sheaths of primaries breaking skin on wings.

By 10 days of age the second down is complete and uniform and outer rectrices are breaking skin. At 10 days, primaries growing at 2–3 mm/d, rectrix sheath not yet split.

At 14 days the second down is dense and long, rectrix sheath about 2 mm and typically ninth primary emerges from sheath.

By day 17 the contour feathers start to push out prepennae and only pale (buffy) tips of rectrices have emerged but growing at about 2 mm/d (since day 13).

By 10 days of age the second down is complete and uniform and outer rectrices are breaking skin. At 10 days, primaries growing at 2–3 mm/d, rectrix sheath not yet split.

At 14 days the second down is dense and long, rectrix sheath about 2 mm and typically ninth primary emerges from sheath.

By day 17 the contour feathers start to push out prepennae and only pale (buffy) tips of rectrices have emerged but growing at about 2 mm/d (since day 13).

At 20 days while still with heavy coat of second down, brown contour feathers are visible on margins of wings, tail, and faintly around the eyes.

By 30 days young appears about half down-covered and half feathered; while side of face well feathered, crown still covered with down.

At 35 days while mostly feathered, large conspicuous patches of down around legs, under wings, and on crown.

At 40 days almost fully feathered with traces of down on crown and under wings and outer several remiges; rectrices not fully grown but bird capable of weak flight.

Literature cited:

Veldhuis, Froona, Eyases growth and development                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://falcoperegrinus-froona.blogspot.com/2008/04/eyases-growth-and-development.html

Lawrence Peregrines: first hatchling!!

May 13, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

2018.0513.5-001Just a bit later, around 7:13 PM, the female came roaring back to the nest box, and she provided a nice opportunity to capture an image of her with talons outstretched while landing at outer edge of nest box.  She then saunters over to connect with her first of the year hatchling.  After the past 30 days of shared incubation duties, through day and night, all kinds of weather and temperatures, and who knows what other kinds of issues and distractions, and with a new mate, she must be pleased to see the first egg hatch and the arrival of the first born….yet again the miracle of life!

 

 

2018.0513.6-001She spends time cuddling the hatchling and establishing a motherly bond.  Typically the female does most of the brooding of the hatchlings as her mate will handle most of the hunting and delivery of fresh food for the little ones.  It is an awesome sight to watch the chicks beg for food and take turns eating every bit of food that will be delivered!

Happy Mother’s Day: 1st egg hatches!!!

May 13, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

2018.0513.3-001As early Sunday afternoon rolled along, the skies went from overcast, to partly cloudy, partly sunny to clear skies and bright sun!  Later in the afternoon, was able to finally get back and check for an update, and WOW…..a piece broken shell was sitting next tot he female…right on schedule….FIRST EGG HATCHES!!  Then, just after 7 PM, the female rose up and departed as the male landed at right edge of nest box.  This was a memorable moment, with first looks at the first hatchling….a little white fuzz ball.

Condition At Hatching

2018.0513.4-001The peregrine falcon eyases are semialtricial, nidicolous; covered with off-white (prepenne) down. Semi altricial means: Covered with down, incapable of departing from the nest, and fed by the parents. In species like the peregrine falcon we speak of semialtricial 2, hatch with the eyes closed.  The bill and feet pinkish to pale gray with eyes closed. They weigh about 35–40 g. If eyes open with food-begging first day, they are slitlike. The eyases obtain 2 downy plumages.

Literature cited:

Veldhuis, Froona, Eyases growth and development                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://falcoperegrinus-froona.blogspot.com/2008/04/eyases-growth-and-development.html

Lawrence Peregrines: pip holes!!!

May 13, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Just after 8 AM this morning, overcast skies, light winds and temp 49F.  Forecast for day ahead calls for patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 65. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.

2018.0513.1-001Had a chance to watch for a bit this morning and noticed a pip hole in one of the eggs.  The photo at left shows a pip hole in left egg. This means the awaited hatching process in now underway! The male has been very fidgety this morning, moving around and shifting positions constantly.  He has been nibbling at gravel pieces and turning the eggs.  Around 9:40 AM, the male departed and the female came into the nest box and settled right in on the eggs.  The second photo provides a nice look at all four eggs, and again, a pip hole in the egg at top of egg group.  Perhaps a chick will pop out later today….stay tuned!

2018.0513.2-001So what is going on as we await hatching of the eggs? Inside each egg, the peregrine chick has its head tucked under its wing. A large muscle called the hatching muscle runs from the middle of the neck to the top of the head. Typically around 30 days after incubation has started, this muscle contracts. The chick’s head snaps up and the egg tooth, a hard pointed knob on top of the beak, cracks the inside of the eggshell. This creates a “pip” – a small hole with tiny cracks spreading out across the shell. One to two days after pipping, the chick begins moving around in the shell. The egg tooth scrapes against the eggshell, cutting a ring through it. Just over 30 days after the egg is laid, the chick breaks out!

Literature cited:

The Raptor Resource Project, Deborah, Iowa

https://www.raptorresource.org/facts.htm