Posted by: grperegrines | 06/21/2021

6/21/21: Juvenile sightings

I hope you have checked on the nestbox camera at the right time during this last week to find one of the fledglings/juveniles in the box. Based on my own sightings and a few screenshots sent to me, they seem to spend a lot of their time there yelling for food. They are also spending a lot of time on the roof ledges on the Eberhard Center, especially those facing the river. On Sunday morning I got a brief view of one of the juveniles flying across the river toward the Plaza Towers. Traffic prevented me from seeing where it landed, but the flight looked very strong. I’m guessing the two adults are spending a lot of time on the Towers to avoid being constantly pestered by their hungry offspring. If things go the way they have the last two years, the juveniles will be moving away from the nestbox to parts unknown in just another week or two.

On Thursday we learned that one of the juveniles, C/74, was rescued a week or so ago, after a flight went wrong. He was sent to a licensed rehabber and recovered well enough that he was put back in the nestbox by our DNR biologist on Friday morning. He immediately flew out, so his recovery went very well. No details have been shared about where or when he was rescued, or what his injuries may have been. Luckily, this situation turned out well.

The DNR biologist also checked on the Courthouse nestbox when he was here on Friday. No adults were observed and only broken eggs were found in the box. It is unclear if that pair of adults have left the area, or are just hanging out in locations not easily observed. Personally, I am convinced that neither of the original nesting pair (2006-2019?) has survived, and newly mated birds often fail their first year together. Here’s hoping the new pair sticks around to try again next season.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/12/2021

6/12/21: Fledgling in box

This afternoon falcon watcher Lynn sent me the screenshot below, showing one of the babies in the box. I can’t think of any other way for it to have gotten there other than flying, so this is officially a fledgling! No idea which one, since the bands aren’t visible, but it is still good news. Here’s hoping the rest make an appearance soon!

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/06/2021

6/6/21: Out of the box, no worries yet

6/9/21 update: 3 of the 4 chicks have been located on various ledges at or below the level of the nestbox by a watcher in Plaza Towers across the river. The 4th has not been seen, but may be on a surface below the ledge level. First flights have not been witnessed, but are likely to happen in the next few days.

Several viewers noticed a chick out of the nestbox this morning. It was found on the ledge to the north (left side of camera view) of the box, with an adult and possibly some food nearby. Then a second chick seems to have joined it. This has happened in previous years, and the chicks have been able to get back into the box if they want. Based on the amount of down still visible on the chicks, it should be a day or two before any try taking off.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/02/2021

6/2/21: Banding day results

I got the banding details from Nik Kalejs, the DNR biologist who did the banding:

  1. Male.  Federal band 1156-26750, right leg; color band Black C over Blue 72, left leg.
  2. Female.  Federal band 1947-33165, right; Black 35 over Blue K, left.
  3. Male.  Federal band 1156-26751, right; Black C over Blue 73, left.
  4. Male.  Federal band 1156-26752, right; Black C over Blue 74, left.

So, like the adults, any falcon with a blue number is male and a blue letter is female.

The chicks are 28-30 days old today, so hopefully we have a week or so before any of them tries taking off. Generally, the only visible down on the chicks when they fledge is a tuft on their heads. Amazing to think that one or two will be there by this time next week! Note that the female will be larger than her brothers and take longer to take off due to her slightly higher weight. Look for Mom or Dad to fly in front of the box with food in their talons, to coax the chicks into taking off. The adults will feed the chicks for the next month or more, dropping food off on nearby ledges. Once the juveniles are flying better, they will try to take food from their parents. It takes some practice to learn how to catch a bird on the wing, but by the end of the summer, they will be independent and migrating by themselves.

On a related topic, Nik checked on the Kent County Courthouse nest box. He found an adult falcon sitting on eggs. While this is late for peregrines to be hatching chicks, it is not unknown here in GR. Back in 2011, the courthouse pair had a single chick that hatched on June 6th. I think this is more common with first time pairs, when it takes them longer to decide to make it a match.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/26/2021

5/26/2021: Banding set for Friday 5/28

Banding postponed until 2pm, when weather conditions are expected to be better.

The four chicks in the GVSU nestbox are growing fast. At 3 weeks old, it is time for them to get the jewelry that will let us identify them individually. The DNR biologists currently plan to do the banding on Friday, about 10 am. That may change if weather conditions make it difficult.

First flights can happen as early as 35 days old or as late as 42 days old. The smaller males take off earlier than the larger females. Watch for wing practice to make the nestbox look small in another week or so, as their true feathers replace their white fluff.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/05/2021

5/5/2021: #4 is here!

Finally we got a view that clearly showed 4 chicks. The fourth is already fluffy and up ready to be fed, so it hatched sometime earlier this morning.

Now we get to watch them grow for more than a month before they are ready to fly.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/04/2021

5/4/2021: 3 chicks

According to the screenshots sent to me, there were 3 healthy looking chicks being fed by 6:30am today. Those pictures did not reveal a pip in the 4th egg, so it might be another day or two before that one hatches.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/03/2021

5/3/2021: The hatching process has begun

Sometime before 8am this morning, at least one of the chicks made movements or sounds that alerted the adult on the eggs that hatching had started. It was the posture of the adult that clued me in. She was holding her wings out from her body a little and not hunkered down tight. Around noon, Kathy R caught a glimpse of a small hole, called a pip, in one of the eggs.

It can take up to 24 hours for a chick to break out of the egg. Scientists think the adults do not help because a chick that is not strong enough to hatch on its own is unlikely to survive, so why invest any time or energy in that chick. Due to the delay in incubation when the first eggs were laid, it is possible that two chicks could hatch today, then the next two should hatch in the next two or three days. Once all of the chicks have hatched, the adult female will stay in the nestbox with the chicks most of the time, while the male will bring food to the nest for her to feed herself and the chicks.

On another topic, I heard secondhand that peregrines were seen in and around the Courthouse nestbox during April. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten confirmation that they are sitting on eggs. Please let me know if you have seen falcons in the Courthouse area.

Posted by: grperegrines | 04/02/2021

4/2/2021: 4th egg arrived yesterday

Sorry for the late announcement. The 4th egg was seen for the first time shortly before 9am yesterday (Thursday, April 1). I think it was likely laid hours earlier, since dad was on the eggs before the big reveal. While 4 is the average clutch size for peregrines, it is possible for there to be a 5th egg. If one hasn’t appeared by the end of Saturday, it likely won’t.

I think full incubation did start after the 3rd egg, on Tuesday, March 30th. Hatching generally begins 33 – 35 days after incubation starts, so by my math, that means May 3rd would be probably be the earliest we could expect to see chicks.

Posted by: grperegrines | 03/30/2021

3/30/2021: 3rd egg

I got my first glimpse of egg #3 about 8:30am this morning. It was laid sometime after 8pm last night. Egg #4, if there is one, should arrive Thursday morning.

The adults were on the eggs more yesterday because it was colder. It will be interesting to see if they start incubating full time now.

On a side note, I have not heard of any activity around the Kent County Courthouse nestbox, though single peregrines have been seen on various buildings in the Michigan Hill area.

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