Lawrence Peregrines: Day 9

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

Fair skies, calm wind, 54F with sunrise time at 5:16 AM. The forecast for today calls for showers likely, mainly after 5pm. Increasing clouds, with a high near 72. Calm wind becoming south around 6 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

2018.0522.1The female started the day off hovering and brooding over the chicks, including the remaining addled egg.  Towards 7 AM, she walked over to the far edge of the nest box and spent time gazing out to the west.  She will begin to do this more and more, getting the chicks use to her taking breaks, and then later breaks away from the nest box, but always nearby.  In the early afternoon, had a nice look and noticed the addled egg has been moved a bit away from the huddled chicks.  It may remain there for now, and be pushed off a bit further in next few days.  The female resumed her position at the far edge of the nest box and spent time preening herself, before feeding the chicks.

 

 

2018.0522.2In the early days, brooding and feeding are by the female alone, but the male later takes a share, though a lesser one, in feeding. Both parents are inclined to encourage the chicks to eat more than they appear to want: at 8-9 days, repeated gaping disappears, for the nestling watches the feeding actions of its parent and reaches up to take the food as it is presented. Treble whining increases in volume and is uttered between mouthfuls, but ceases when satiation is reached.

 

 

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: One week and growing!

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

The peregrines started Sunday morning under overcast skies, winds from SW at 10MPH and temp at 67F. The forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms before 2pm, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm between 2pm and 3pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3pm. High near 78. Southwest wind around 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 29 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

2018.0520.1-001At one week of age, the chicks have already grown considerably relative to the size of the eggs they emerged from.  They are covered with fine white down, and in some places the pink skin still shows through (e.g. the crop, full of food in this photo).  On the day of hatching, and for several days after, peregrine chicks respond to creaking calls of an adult by raising their heads, opening and closing their beaks and giving faint “treble whine” begging calls in reply. Alarm calling from the adults usually puts a damper on the nestlings. The eyes of a newly hatched chick are closed and until about 4 days of age they remain either half open, or bleary and unseeing.

2018.0520.2-001Between 4 and 8 days of age a nestling begins to distinguish and react by sight to an adult in the nest box. Very young chicks spend most of their time dozing and sleeping, and huddle closely together in a white, fuzzball, single bunch. An uncovered nestling will vocalize with an call intermediate between a “treble whine” and “chitter.” Young chicks will often look out from beneath the brooding adult. DR

Lawrence Peregrines: feeding and brooding!

May 19, 2018 in lawrence peregrines, Near the Clock Tower

The peregrines started the day watching the royal wedding under fair skies, wind from the NE at 3MPH and temp at 44F.  Sunrise was at 5:19 AM.  The forecast calls for rain, mainly after 11am. High near 58. East wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

IMG_6888The female was seen brooding and feeding the chicks this morning between 8 – 9 AM.  She still keeps the remaining egg close to her, and visible, while she broods the other chicks.  A bit later, food arrives and she prepares to feed the chicks, while taking a few bites for herself.

IMG_6893The female assumes an increasingly elevated brooding position as the chicks grow, and is especially careful with her feet when rising and moving away.  The brooding female gently pulls back with the underside of its beak, as needed, one of the small chicks, which moves out from under her, as she might hook a displaced egg. Female attentiveness to brooding depends on weather, the number of nestlings, and their age.  Brooding tends to become increasingly sporadic after about the eight day.

Literature cited:

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

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: 3 hatchlings feeding!

May 17, 2018 in In the Nest Box, lawrence peregrines, Peregrine Falcons Eastern Massachusetts, Peregrine Falcons Massachusetts

The morning started off with fair skies, calm wind, and temp at 55F.  The day ahead calls for patchy fog between 7am and 8am. Otherwise, cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Light and variable wind.

2018.0517.1-001The female was seen brooding the 3 chicks just after 6 AM this morning.  At 6:12 AM, she lifted up and walked over to the left edge of the nest box, and then hopped out onto the perch pole, for a quick bathroom break.  She hopped back into the nest box and settled back in over the chicks.  Just minutes later, she departed the nest box in flight and then returned with fresh prey…breakfast for the little ones.  The female feeds each of them with a gentle tenderness.  The fourth egg has not yet hatched, and, now, the time is growing late.

2018.0517.2-001From a growth and development perspective, the chicks are already starting to grow!   On Sunday, the adults began feeding the chicks shortly after they hatched.  At this age their eyes remain closed, but the chicks already have the instinct to crane their necks upward for food.  Over these very early days, the chicks eat and rest in a clump of whiteness.  They huddle close to one another while at rest.  They trip over each other while eating, and may even fall over if they lose their balance…..so very cute!

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!