Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Chick has Been Banded

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Amy and Bob from RRP putting holding and putting bands on young falcon

At 27 days old, the chick was banded. We meet Bob Anderson and Amy Ries from the Raptor Resource Project at the Greysolon Plaza building at 10:30am on Tuesday, June 24th. The weather was damp and foggy but it was still ok to band the young falcon. Since there was only one, they made quick work of it. Amy Ries wore a climbing harness and tied into the window washing steps that were placed behind the box. She climbed over the box to retrieve the young falcon. Meanwhile, the adult male falcon was flying over head making a territorial call and the female was starting to make swoops.

The most unique thing about the banding this year was that Bob Anderson decided to catch the female. She is one of the more aggressive females that they work with. They wanted to avoid her swats as well as keep her from being stressed and possibly injuring her feet by continuously hitting the hard helmets that the banders where. Bob was sucessfull with this and caught her almost right away. This female will come and land next to you and stare at you before she flys to make a pass at you. In the time she landed, Bob was able to grab her, get her under control and then place a hood on her and a piece of fabric that restrained her wings and feet around her. This kept her quiet, calmer and the banders safer.

While the female was restrained the banders were able to quickly put two bands on the young falcon. They get a silver band with a 9 digit number  on it and a color band that is two colors and has a letter and number sequence on it. The color band makes it easier to identify the bird from farther distances. They decided that the young falcon was a male and was healthy and feisty.  His color band is black/red and the number is E/85. He was a strong little falcon and seemed to have some attitude. He made a lot of noise while this was happening and was not  submissive to it all. We were joking that you could tell he had some of his mother's attitude in him.

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Bob putting U.S. Fish and wildlife band on young falcon

After everything was done, The feisty falcon was put back in the nest and the mother was released. She flew to a common perch and did not try to swoop at anyone while we left. I would say the banding went quickly and was successful.

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Katie Swanson from Peregrine Watch holding young falcon

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our Chick is Two Weeks Old!

In the last two weeks, we have had some fun watching "our" peregrine family. It is hard to believe that the eyas is already two weeks old. It is amazing to see how fast they grow and change. In just two weeks, this little bird has acquired a second dense layer of down to keep himself warm. On warmer days, the parents are able to leave their little one alone a lot longer without it getting cold. On cooler days, the adults will still stay in the box and snuggling up with the eyas to keep it warm. Along with the layer of dense down, the eya is also growing in it's flight feathers. You can see straw like structures coming out of the tail and the wings with feathers starting to protrude from them. Already, this little bird is working on developing its muscles to fly. Just today we were able to watch the eya stand up and stretch its wings out.

This eyas seems to be more active at this age then previous eyases. Maybe this is because it does not have other siblings to lean on. Through our scopes we have seen it peak its head out of the box already. We have also watched it walk around the box, following mama as she walked around and pecked at stuff. At this age, the young birds are usually still huddling together in the box mostly but this one has no siblings to lean on so may be more adventurous.

All the while, papa has still been doing his job hunting a lot. We have spotted a couple of caches with prey in them that looked like they were not plucked and untouched. Today we were able to see papa chase after a very brave pigeon. This pigeon landed on the top of the building around 10 feet away from the nest and were he was perching. Papa immediately took off and flew after the bird. The pigeon reacted fast and took off over the parking ramp nearby with papa right on its tail. He was close to catching it but the pigeon dove down in between buildings and papa headed back to the Greysolon building. Part of me wonders if he was wasn't just having a little fun on a cool rainy day. If only we could really get into their heads.

The forecast looks like rain tomorrow and then we are off for two days. It will be exciting to see what has changed when we return to the park to observe them. I expect we will see the eyas continue to grow and see more of the flight feathers emerging. While he is working on growing, I am sure mama and papa will continue to put on a fun show. If you can, stop by and observe this falcon family with your own eyes. If not, stay tuned to read about what they are up to next.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Adventures of Week One

One week has passed for our Peregrine Watch Program and there have been a few twists and turns. Over the weekend we had some unfavorable weather so we could not run the program. Also our transmitter and receiver for our monitor that gives us the picture of what is going on inside the nest box was not working. So, after we had our one chick hatch, we were kind of in the dark about what was happening in the box. Yesterday we were finally able to get a peak inside the nest box. To our surprise there was still only one chick and 3 eggs in the nest. It is quit possibly that we will not see the rest of the eggs hatch since the first one is already a week old.

In a normal year, when all eggs hatch, it is common for the eggs to hatch a few days apart. They could even hatch up to a week apart. However it is more uncommon for one to hatch and all others to not be hatched a week later. The one chick had already hatched on the later side of things from when we first discovered eggs in the nest. We are not sure why the eggs have not hatched but it could be because of the colder spring weather or infertile eggs.

Although we are disappointed that we may only have one young falcon to watch grow this season, we are still excited about the one that has hatched. This young bird will be getting all the attention and will defiantly be getting enough to eat. In the past, these adults are commonly feeding 3 or 4 chicks so they will have no problem getting food for one.

The chick seems to be doing well so far. Dad has been hunting and bringing back food for mom and the chick. We can already see a huge development in size and mobility from one week ago. At about one week old falcon chicks are already around 3 times the size that they were when they hatched. In just a few days, this chick will have developed a second layer of white down that will help is stay a lot warmer and need less brooding. You can really see a huge development from day to day and week to week.

Stay tuned to hear more about this falcon family!