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 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!




Peregrine fledgling

June 17, 2014 in Peregrines at 250 Canal St.

The peregrine fledglings have been seen on many of the local warehouse building rooftops.  This late afternoon sighting was at the 250 Canal St. warehouse complex on one of the west facing roofs.  The young falcon was solo looking west!

Fledgling on lower ledge!

June 12, 2014 in On the Clock Tower

After a few days remaining in the nest box, the third and final chick fledged on Thursday.  In the late afternoon, had a nice opportunity to observe the fledgling on a lower ledge closer to Merrimack Street.  It was testing its wings and hopping along a ledge.  Not only a treat to watch from a close vantage point, but also had the chance to observe and document the black/green bicolor leg bands used on peregrines in Eastern United States.  This fledgling has black numbers (59) over green letters (BD).

More photos: http://www.pbase.com/birdshots/image/156086349

There is an international protocol in North America for colored leg bands on Peregrine Falcons. The color indicates the origin or subspecies for chicks banded in the nest. The colors in the protocol and their meaning are:

Red Captive bred
Black/red bicolor Eastern United States
Black/green bicolor Eastern United States
Blue Tundra Peregrines
Black/blue bicolor Tundra or Anatum captured off the breeding grounds or subspecies unknown
Green Peale’s Peregrines
Black Anatum Peregrines

Characters used on the Peregrine bands are letters and numbers, with one character on the top of the band and one character on the bottom of the band. Older bands may have these characters either vertical or tipped ninety degrees to the left. Newer bands have all vertical characters.

Fledgling on nearby ledge!

June 11, 2014 in On the Clock Tower

The fledglings continue to be seen in a variety of locations around the Clock Tower with one of first two fledglings remaining for a day on a nearby ledge.  The older fledgling has flown to upper ledges and even atop the weathervane at the top of the Clock Tower!

Peregrine chicks; 2 fledge over weekend!

June 10, 2014 in On the Clock Tower

The peregrine chicks took their first flights away from the nest over this past weekend. Not always choosing to or being capable of returning to the nest site, they will be found in different locations around the Clock Tower like these 2 on a nearby lower ledge!

Peregrine fledglings experience the joy of flight!

July 9, 2013 in Peregrines at 250 Canal St.

The fledglings are having a blast learning how to fly.  They have abundant nearby rooftops to practice short hop flights, glides and landings.  You can almosy sense their joy as they make endless short hop flights.  What a pure delight to watch!

5 photos posted:  http://www.pbase.com/birdshots/image/151582749

Peregrine fledgling injured & sent to rehab

June 30, 2013 in Near the Clock Tower

The last fledgling of four suffered a open wound and right wing radial fracture last weekend.  The young bird estimated to be about 8 weeks old was found at a playground along Island St. in Lawrence.  The injured fledgling was watched by a group of teenagers and thankfully a call was placed to the local police and Ellen Bistany, the city Animal Control Officer was dispatched to the location.  She took possession of the peregrine and then communicated with a local police detective who has a falconry background.  A prompt visit with the detective allowed for a correct ID to be made as well as an initial determination of the probable injury….a wing fracture.  The fledgling was brought to the MSPCA facility at Nevins Farm in Methuen.  Pam Nixon, who serves as the assistant manager of the equine and farm animal adoption center was very helpful and arranged for contact with and transport to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton.  

The Wildlife Clinic reports that the female fledgling with black over green leg bands 93/AD is bandaged with its wing in place.  The fledgling sustained a fracture and soft tissue trauma.  It has been able to perch on its own but it did sustain severe bruising.  It has a figure eight bandage in place, and is splinted with no cast in place.  It performs normal body functions and has a somewhat stable appetite.

 This story represents an amazing example of an outstanding team effort by a chain of well informed and responsive caretakers. This peregrine family is quite well known In Lawrence by MassWildlife staffers, NH Audubon staffers, local police, nearby security guards, New Balance employees, commercial tenants at 250 Canal St., residential tenants at many nearby apartment buildings;  staff, members and friends of GroundWork Lawrence the local conservation group; staff and members of the the Merrimack River Watershed Council;  endless members of this list who have been in contact and shared so many observations, Eastern Mass Hawk Watchers and the list goes on!

5 photos of injured female fledling courtesy of Ellen Bistany: http://www.pbase.com/birdshots/image/151047019

5 close up flight photos from fledge day: http://www.pbase.com/birdshots/image/150728639   Click “next” upper right to advance frames

15 close up photos from fledge day: http://www.pbase.com/birdshots/image/150728894    Click “next” upper right to advance frames

 Blog post from her fledge day:  http://lawrenceperegrines.com/peregrines-last-chick-93ad-fledges-on-sunday/    Click “next” upper right to advance frames

 Will provide further update;  a wonderful story to share about great teamwork in the field!