Posted by: grperegrines | 04/09/2019

4/9/19: Third egg for GVSU

A/20 has laid a 3rd egg in the nest box on GVSU’s Eberhard Center.  (Thank you, Kathy R, for letting us know you got a glimpse!)  We don’t know exactly when it was laid, though a few of us were suspicious just before it got too dark to see anything clearly on the nest cam yesterday evening.  If a fourth egg is on the way, I’d expect it over night on Wednesday or sometime on Thursday.

You may have noticed that the falcons left the first egg uncovered most of the time, basically until the 2nd egg was laid late Saturday afternoon.  While full incubation usually starts after several eggs are laid, I was concerned that the egg might have cooled too much if they didn’t cover it at least some of the time at night.   It was a relief when the adults began covering the eggs most of the time after #2 arrived.  All of that to say that I won’t be surprised if the first egg does not hatch.

Now that full incubation has probably begun, the eggs may safely be left uncovered for a time when the adults change places or if the falcon on the egg moves to the front of the box to defend the nest from some type of threat.  That’s especially true if the temperatures are well above freezing.

Peregrine eggs need to be incubated for 33-35 days before hatching.  More about that in a later post.



Posted by: grperegrines | 04/04/2019

4/4/19: First egg at GVSU

We’ve been on egg watch for what feels like forever, but finally A/20 laid her first egg just before noon today.  Now to see how many more she will lay over the next week or so.  It is always amazing to see how instinct kicks in with young birds.  A/20 is already doing a good job of incubating.  Addition: A/20 has not been completely covering the egg for long stretches.  Seems this first time Mom hasn’t gotten comfortable with the egg under her.  On the plus side, it isn’t cold enough to damage the egg, and full-time incubation often doesn’t start until the clutch is nearly complete.  Quick way to tell the adults apart:  A/20 has quite a few dark markings on her upper chest and in front of her wings, while the male has a mostly clean upper chest and fewer spots in front of his wings.  The male is also noticeably smaller than the female.

first egg 2019 (2)

About 8:30 this morning, I observed a pair of peregrines mating on the East roof ledge of the courthouse.  The male (not sure if he’s banded) perched on the NE corner of the roof ledge.  The unbanded female entered the nest box, did some rearranging, and settled down in the box out of sight.  Then she reappeared at the front of the box for a few minutes, before again rearranging something and laying down.  Usually the adults only lay that flat when there are eggs, hence the conclusion that she is incubating.  That they are still mating, and that she isn’t on the eggs full time, suggests the clutch isn’t complete.  All I think we can say right now is that one or more eggs were laid by early morning, April 3.

At the time of this writing, there is no egg in the GVSU nest box, but A/20 has been spending a lot of time there, even at night.  It would make life easier come banding time if eggs in both nests were laid about the same time.  Stay tuned!

Posted by: grperegrines | 03/27/2019

3/27/19: Welcome to GR, A/20

With the help of viewer Sue’s screenshot, and confirmation from our DNR biologist, we’ve been able to read the number on our female’s blue band as a 20.  So, here’s the information about her from the Midwest Peregrine Society’s database:

A/20, Female, unnamed, hatched on a smokestack at Schahfer Plant, Wheatfield, Indiana, and banded on 5/18/17.  (This power plant is 15-20 miles south of Valparaiso, IN.)

Several viewers have also provided screenshots that confirm we have the same male as the last two years – black sideways R over an unreadable band.  He is also from Indiana, but we don’t know specific details.

A/20 has been spending a lot of time in the nest box, doing some rearranging and seeing if the depression fits her.  Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait until mid-April for eggs!

Posted by: grperegrines | 03/24/2019

3/24/19: Another new girl in town

If you have been watching the GVSU nest cam this past week, you might have gotten a glimpse of a falcon with a black over blue band on her left leg.  So far we’ve been able to figure out she has an A on her black band, but not the numbers on her blue band.  According to the Midwest Peregrine Society’s database, there are 25 or so possible females hatched in Wisconsin, Indiana, or Kentucky in 2017 or 2018.  Hopefully, she will accept our male, the same one as last year, and we’ll have lots of opportunities to read those numbers while watching her tend to her chicks.  I think I mentioned before that new pairs take some time to get their act together, so it is hard to know when to expect eggs.  In Majestic’s first season, 2017, the first egg was laid in mid-April.

As for the Courthouse nest site, a pair of falcons have been observed several times on the building and in the nest box, but it is very hard to see any band information.  So, we are still waiting to confirm that that we are seeing two different pairs.


Posted by: grperegrines | 03/18/2019

3/18/19: One pair, or two?

While I was downtown this afternoon I was able to check on the Courthouse nest box area.  A pair of peregrines spent a considerable amount of time on the Courthouse, including one going inside the box.  I expect they were doing something similar to what the falcons visible on the GVSU nest cam were doing yesterday.

When I got home I was hoping to see a pair of falcons on the nest cam continuing their prep of the GVSU nest box, but nope.  There wasn’t a repeat of Sunday’s long visit, at least not between 3pm and dark.  The male did perch on the front rail for a time, but I didn’t see the pair together.

So, the question remains – do we have two peregrine pairs again this year, or just one pair that has been checking out both boxes?  It is also possible that two males are courting the same female, who hasn’t made up her mind yet.

Since I can’t watch either the nest cam or the Courthouse box constantly,  I really need your help.  Please email me a brief summary of the peregrine activity you see, including when you saw it.  I’ll compare reports to see if falcons were present in both places at the same time, or not.

If the falcons keep to last year’s schedule the first eggs could be laid by the end of this week.  However, new pairs tend to need more time to get their act together, so it could be April before they make a final choice.  Stay tuned!

Posted by: grperegrines | 02/23/2019

2/23/19: More info on Majestic’s rescue

Here’s the story, paraphrased from several emails.  A big thank you to all who were involved!

Bill Lucksted (GVSU Facilities falcon contact person) was notified mid-afternoon on Wednesday that a peregrine had been on the ground since about 9 am. The location was outside a corner of the Engineering building that’s attached to the Eberhard Center and the peregrine was right outside a large wall of windows where employees had been watching it all day.  Bill asked for help from Elaine Fleming, an experienced falcon watcher.  According to Elaine, Majestic had no visible injuries, but her location made a window strike a reasonable guess.

The two of them tried to contact the Wildlife Rehab Center, but the Center wouldn’t open for intake until 5pm.  So, they put Majestic in a box for transport.  Elaine was on the way to the Center to wait until 5pm, when she got a message from Allison, who is one of the Center’s licensed rehabbers.  Allison asked for the falcon to be brought to her house, and she would then take Majestic to the Center, which she did.  I’m sure the Wildlife Rehab Center’s staff did all they could, but Majestic’s condition was too poor.

The peregrines nesting in Grand Rapids are fortunate to have so many willing and able to help them out when needed.

Posted by: grperegrines | 02/22/2019

2/22/19: New girl in town, or not?

I just tuned into the GVSU nest cam and I’ve seen TWO falcons in the nest box.  From what I could see of his bands, the falcon spending the most time in the box seems to be our male from last year working on the depression for the eggs.  The only other falcon that would be allowed in the nest box without an immediate battle would be a female.  It will take more observations to determine for sure that the new female has been accepted as a mate, but the prep of the nest box is a very good sign.

She just showed up again to give her opinion on the nest prep, and unfortunately, she is not banded.  That makes it possible that this is the female from the courthouse pair.  Only time will tell!

The appearance of another female so soon after Majestic’s passing raises the possibility that Majestic’s injuries were not due to a window strike, but due to a fight with this unknown female peregrine.  In general, when an unknown peregrine shows up in an occupied territory, it is the falcon of the same gender that defends the territory.  This is not the first time that I’ve heard of a female being critically injured by another female that then took over the nest with the surviving male.

Posted by: grperegrines | 02/20/2019

2/20/19: Sad news about the GVSU nesting pair

It is with a heavy heart that I report the loss of Majestic, blk 29/blue M, today, February 20.  Wildlife Rehab Center, our local rehabbers, picked her up this afternoon (I’m not sure from where) after she possibly hit a window.  They were able to give her pain meds and make her comfortable, but in spite of their best efforts, she didn’t make it.  Her body may be turned over to the DNR for a necropsy, if they want to determine her cause of death.

Majestic showed up in Grand Rapids in the early spring of 2017 as a 2 yr old and laid eggs with a mate both in 2017 and 2018.  The pair raised two chicks to fledging both years, with one believed lost in 2017.  There have been no reports of the other fledglings since they left the vicinity of the nest box.

The traditional view is that peregrines mate for life, but in my years of following nesting peregrines, I think their loyalty is more to the nest location than to an individual falcon mate.  There are lots of examples of a remaining adult peregrine taking a new mate when a previous mate is killed or fails to return from migrating.  We are early in the breeding season for 2019, so there is a chance that another female will be accepted by the GVSU male in time to lay eggs this year.  We may even see a whole new pair take over.

So, we again start the process of trying to identify any falcons seen in, or around, the nest box on the Eberhard Center.  Nest cam watchers have seen a falcon visiting the box several times that I know of, but no one has reported reading leg bands.  I’d also like to hear about falcons seen around the Kent County Courthouse, so we can determine if they are nesting there again this year.

Thanks to all who have provided me reports over the winter!

Posted by: grperegrines | 02/03/2019

2/3/19: Activity at GVSU nest box

I’m happy to report that I saw a peregrine falcon enter the nest box on GVSU’s Eberhard Center this afternoon.  The falcon spent about a minute there.  I did not get a good enough look to tell if the falcon was one of last year’s pair.  It is very encouraging that a falcon is once again investigating the box.

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