Fledglings eating on ledge

July 3, 2018 in Near the Clock Tower

_W7I6334-001Made a stop by the Clock Tower on Tuesday morning at 8:45AM under bright sun and clear skies, winds from the W at 6MPH and temp at. 84F.  The female was perched on the nest box perch pole.  This strongly suggested that the fledglings were close by.  Sure enough, one of them, 27/BU was picking apart a morning meal on an upper story, west facing ledge, of the New Balance building, not far from the Merrimack Street entrance.  Another youngster was above a much higher ledge above the clock face.

 

 

_W7I6756-001The fledgling eating prey, was ripping it apart and not wasting a minute.  The other, slightly larger fledgling, 29/BU was content to just watch.  It may have eaten a bit earlier.  They then sat next to each other for a bit before the larger one took off in flight.  Observed all three fledglings, as well as both adults; very nice to see the young family all together!

Fledglings: on the wing!

June 27, 2018 in Near the Clock Tower

_W7I3950-001Usually, each youngster may land and remain at a special resting/feeding area near the nest box.  At this location, it will receive food from the adults.  After a few days, the fledged young may be grouped together to be fed, by either parent.  At first this is typically a bill to bill transfer of pieces, but later will be given intact prey to rip apart and eat on their own. At this stage of growth, the fledglings often rest by lying prone on nearby ledges, especially on hot afternoons. When the young are at rest, they may be very well camouflaged.  It is possible to observe billing between siblings on ledges. There tends to be little bickering between youngsters over food.

_W7I3592-001Flutter gliding by the young is frequent at this stage and appears to be the same flight as used by adult females before egg laying.  Once the young are on the wing, the female Peregrine resumes hunting in earnest, and often joins the male again in cooperative hunts. This image shows the female taking off in pursuit of a nearby gull that flew too close to the Clock Tower!

Increasingly, the fledglings make short flights in pursuit of, or in search for the parents. which in a few days begin to adopt aerial foot-to-foot transfers of prey to their offspring.  The young love to chase each other as well as their parents, all in a very playful way!

On the wing: fledglings!

June 26, 2018 in Near the Clock Tower

_W7I2596-001One of the great joys of monitoring a peregrine falcon nest, eggs, hatchlings, nestlings, and then fledglings; is the exciting moments around first days of flight.  Although they rest quite a bit, as they adjust to their new life outside the nest box, their flight patterns are a joy to behold.  Most of the flight patterns are a bit awkward, their takeoffs and landings, a bit uneven.  They love to zoom around in playful flight with adults and each other.

_W7I2614-001Flights grow stronger day by day over the first week.  Many times the youngsters will engage in mack combat drills with rolls and outstretched talons. The family usually remains close around the Clock Tower, roosting in many different locations. By now the nest box looks bare, with few remains left behind.

Day 42: 3 nestlings fledged and gone!

June 24, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

2018.0623-001The 3 peregrine chicks have all now fledged! Now all we see is an empty nest box.  The youngsters rarely if ever return to the nest box once they have fledged.  From time to time, the female will perch on the nest box perch pole, if it provides her with a good vantage point to watch the fledglings.  The action now is all around the Clock Tower.  The nest box will mostly remain empty until the middle of next March when preparations will hopefully once again get underway for the breeding season!

Day 41: last ones fledged!!

June 23, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Sunrise this morning was at 5:07AM.  The remaining two peregrines started the day off under overcast skies, very light winds from the east and temp at 62F.  The day ahead calls for overcast skies with possibility of light rain, NE winds up to 10 – 12 MPH, and temps hitting 67F by late morning, and cooling off in the afternoon.

2018.0623.1 2Today is looking to be a big day with number two having fledged early this morning and the last one likely to go off today.  The remaining chick was seen in the nest box as late as 11AM and by 2:35PM, the nest box was empty with the last chick now fledged and out of the nest box.  The web cam will continue to operate, but little chance we will see any further action through the cam.  the chicks will many the next many weeks in and around the area around 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.

Day 40: #2 ready to fledge

June 22, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

After sunrise at 5:07, the peregrines started this morning off under fair skies, little wind and temp at 56F.  The day ahead calls for sunny skies, with a high near 76. East wind around 6 mph.

The two remaining chicks continue to move around inside the nest box, with time for loafing and resting, enjoying the morning shade, wing flapping, eating, and just getting ready for the moment of first flight.  The female continues to watch over the chicks, sometimes from the perch and other times from just a bit of a distance.

2018.0622.1 2Around 6PM tonight, checked back in and observed one chick in the nest box.  It seemed to look over and just below the nest box.  After a few minutes, a small movement was seen, and it turned out to be the other chick on the ledge right below the nest box.  Ir was moving back and forth, its head just visible, and then hopped up, and back into the nest box, and remained inside.

 

2018.0622.2 2Around 7PM, checked back again, and the ready to fledge chick was seen perched out on the perch pole.  It sat for a while, then hopped back inside the nest box for a while, and just after 7:20 Pm hopped back out onto the perch pole….so ready for first flight!!

 

 

2018.0622.3Many 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 39: update!

June 21, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Made a pass by the Ayer Mill Clock Tower this morning with a fresh determination to scour the area for the first fledgling.  After first flight, there is no telling if a fledged falcon may have been injured or harmed in some way.  Some times, they find a nearby spot to just rest and loaf a while.  They will call to the parents for food and be cared for as long as they are in range of the nest.  At times, observation of the adults, may provide clues on the location of a nearby newly fledged bird.

_W7I1738-001Just before 10AM, after looking high and low around all sides of the Clock Tower, made the last stop on the north side of the Merrimack River, and scanned the entire Clock Tower and adjacent buildings for any signs of the fledgling. The middle  window sill just below the north clock face seemed to have a dark horizontal sliver that was out of place.  With binocs, it looked like it could possibly be the fledgling.  A close look through the spotting scope confirmed it was the fledgling, but no signs of movement for over two minutes.  Finally it bobbed its head a bit, and provided final confirmation on being alive and seemingly OK!

_W7I1766-001Later in the day, just after 4PM, returned to same location on north side of Merrimack River, looking south at the tower, and the same fledgling was now on a lower ledge, and perched in upright position.  It likely had remained in the shade for a good part of the day, and may have moved little during the day.

 

 

_W7I1801-001The female was around the corner on the nest box perch pole and the other two nestlings were seen inside the nest box.  Had a chance to view the nest box from below just a bit later with nice views of one of the chicks, another in the background, and the female on the pole.  The other two chicks will likely make first flight over the next few days.  Hopefully, the three chicks will remain together and nearby in the weeks ahead!

 

 

 

Day 39: first fledge, two to go!

June 21, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

First day of summer! Sunrise this morning was again at 5:06AM under fair skies, light winds from the south at 5MPH, and temp at 62F. The peregrines started of this morning under fair skies, wind from south at 5MPH, and temp at 62F. The day ahead forecast calls for a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. Light and variable wind becoming northeast 5 to 8 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

2018.0621-001Now the first chick has fledged and the other two will follow shortly! Just after 5:30AM 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.

 

Day 38: first chick fledges!

June 20, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

_W7I1525-001The first chick fledged some time this afternoon….right on schedule!  Checked in on the chicks late afternoon both through the New Balance Falcon Cam as well as outside the nest box in person.  The first chick has paunched into first flight and left the nest box. This photo shows the two remaining chicks.  The fledged chick was nowhere to be seen in and around the general area.  They tend to stay very close at first!

Day 38: fledge time!

June 20, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

Sunrise this morning was again at 5:06AM. The peregrines started of this morning under clear skies, bright sun, light winds from the south at 3MPH, and temp at 57F. The forecast for the day ahead calls for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 82. calm wind becoming southwest 5 to 9 mph in the morning.

2018.0619-001Just after sunrise, 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.

 

 

 

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Stopped by the nest box just after 9:30 AM, and observed the female on the perch and all three chicks inside!  Overall, the female chicks develop more slowly than males, and so retained their down longer.  Age at first flight varies from 5 to 6 weeks.  One researcher found an average of 40 days, with males 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.