Posted by: grperegrines | 04/12/2017

4/12/17: Incubation and second nest!

UPDATE:  As noted in the comment below, they were able to move the camera in the GVSU nest box by remote control so we can now watch the falcons incubate their three eggs, and hopefully, raise their chicks.  This confirms that we have TWO active nests.  If you should be able to read any leg bands on the adults, please let me know!

Earlier this week I was finally able to see with my own eyes that we have a falcon incubating eggs in the Courthouse nest box.  My best guess is that incubation started during the last week of March. (That would put hatching in late April or possibly early May.)

But on the same day I confirmed incubation, I heard the news that falcons are using the nest box that faces the river on top of GVSU’s Eberhard Center.  There is a camera in that nest box, but over the years it has moved so only the far edge of the box can be seen.  That means that a falcon wing or tail shows up occasionally and there is no way to tell if there are eggs present.  Chances are that no adjustments will be made to the camera until the breeding season is definitely over, or until no falcons have been seen there for some time.

The Eberhard Center nest cam can be found here.

Please continue to send me where and when you are seeing falcons in the downtown area.  Every bit of information will help us figure out if we really do have a second pair.

Posted by: grperegrines | 03/03/2017

3/3/17: Breeding season

The falcons have been spending more time in the Michigan Hill area than earlier in the winter.  I’ve caught a few glimpses of a falcon perched on a corner of the courthouse, but have yet to see one in the nest box.  Last week I saw both adults perched on the letters on the west side of the MSU/Secchia building.  A few weeks ago I was sent a picture of pigeons remains on the sidewalk on that side of the building, further evidence that the peregrines are spending time there.  This morning I saw a falcon fly from the south side of MSU/Secchia to the State Building.

After a mild winter last year, the falcons laid eggs in the last week of March, which was early for them.  It will be interesting to see when they get around to egg laying this year.

As always, your observations are very helpful.

Posted by: grperegrines | 01/26/2017

1/25/17: First sighting of 2017

Late this afternoon I found a peregrine perched on a letter on the west side of the MSU/Secchia Center building.  I’ve been looking hard the few times I’ve been downtown this month, but no luck until today.  I expect the birds have simply been choosing to perch where they can stay relatively warm.  We’re about a month from the start of serious breeding activity, but hopefully the falcons will be checking out the courthouse before then.

My schedule has changed this winter and I’m not downtown as much.  Please consider letting me know each time you see a peregrine around downtown.  Date, time, and specific location of the sighting would be appreciated!

Posted by: grperegrines | 11/09/2016

11/9/16: Flying around

Early this afternoon I watched an adult peregrine falcon fly from the vicinity of the Kent County Courthouse toward the MSU/Secchia building and over to the State Building where I lost sight of it.  I’ve had a few reports of falcon sightings in the Michigan Hill area during the last few weeks, so we know they are still in the area.  Pigeons and starlings remain plentiful through the winter, which is the main reason these birds no longer bother to migrate south.  Juveniles, however, are pretty much kicked out of their parents’ territory and will migrate until they claim a territory of their own.

Speaking of juveniles, I recently found out that the second juvenile that was in rehab this summer was released.  I’m not sure just when, and I received no definite reports of a juvenile being sighted.  Maybe we’ll be lucky again and hear about one of our own nesting in a territory somewhere in North America.

Posted by: grperegrines | 09/07/2016

9/7/16: Juvenile last week?

Now that school has started, I’m downtown and able to watch for the falcons more often.  I’ve seen an adult perched on VanAndel Institute or MSU/Secchia several times. Last Wednesday, 8/31, I observed two falcons flying west from near Fountain St. Church.  They were only visible for a few seconds, but I think I was seeing a juvenile female (bigger and darker underneath) chasing an adult male (smaller and lighter underneath).  There is no way to know for sure, but it was exciting to think that one of this year’s offspring might have survived this long.   (On a related topic, I’ve not heard whether the second juvenile recovered enough to be released or not.  If I hear anything, I’ll pass it on.)

Keep your eyes open, this is raptor migration season.  Bald eagles, osprey, falcons, and hawks have all been seen along the river, even right downtown, during this time.

Posted by: grperegrines | 07/26/2016

7/26/16: Status update

Finally!  I apologize for the long wait to get any more news about this year’s fledglings.  By the time our busy DNR biologist had time to get back to me, I was away from my computer for a few weeks.  With no further to-do, here’s the report as of July 11th:

One of the rescued juveniles was released from the Kent County Courthouse on June 24th.  She was not greeted by either parent, but was flying well.  I presume she is alive and well and has left the area, as I’ve not gotten any reports about her.

The other juvenile was staying at Braveheart Rehabilitation Center due to some tail feather issues, but was doing well and flying some.  I’m not sure how long it will be, but between regaining feathers and learning how to use a functioning tail in flight, it won’t be quick. Juveniles typically leave their nesting area in late summer, so she could still be released in time to do a normal dispersal.  If necessary to wait until a full molt, release might be delayed until next spring. Hopefully I will hear if/when she is finally released.

Other news: The adults are still in the downtown area, including the Michigan Hill area, but are not being seen consistently in any particular place.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/15/2016

6/15/16: Good news and bad news

First, the bad news.  Yesterday, the DNR biologist found the male chick in the nest box, deceased.  He had been dead over a week, which is consistent with when the third chick “disappeared”.  We will likely never know for sure why he died.  Since peregrine chicks are not known to kill each other, he likely succumbed to one of the diseases that can infect young falcons.

Now the good news.  The other female juvenile, C/41, was seen at Blandford Nature Center over the weekend and rescued at some point either Monday or Tuesday.  I haven’t heard a report on her condition, but I know the intention was to place her at Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center with her sister.  I continue to be amazed that she managed to get all the way to Blandford on her own.  I’m assuming that she is the one that fledged last Wednesday and, for whatever reason, took off out of the downtown area.  In my experience with fledglings, this is very unusual behavior.  22/K, the one rescued on Friday, likely got into trouble on her first or second flight. (I apologize for thinking she was the male. She likely looked smaller than her sister because she is several days younger.  This is why seeing the bands is so important.)

It is a relief to have the mystery of the chicks locations solved, but this has been a very strange season for our falcons.  And it isn’t quite over, as the two rescued juveniles will be released at some point.  Normally, they are simply released on the courthouse to join their siblings and parents.  Without any fledglings in the area now, the adults are behaving like the breeding season is over.  Will they respond to having two young ones returned in the nest box area?  Stay tuned!

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/10/2016

6/10/16: Gone, but where? Updated

Update:  The female juvenile 22/K was picked up this afternoon (6/10) after ending up on the ground. She is at the Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Twin Lake.  According to Susan Stamy, she does not appear to have any injuries, but needs to gain strength.  She will be released in Grand Rapids once she is flying well.  (If anyone knows more details, please share them as a comment.)

It seems that our juveniles are now officially fledglings.  Thanks to falcon observer Josh, we know that one of the juveniles took off from the north side of the courthouse and flew up Ionia on Wednesday.  He did not see where it landed.  This morning, I couldn’t find a juvenile anywhere on the courthouse.  I did see the two adults go into protective mode when a man walked out onto the roof of 300 Ionia.  That strongly suggests that one or both of the fledglings are there somewhere, but they were out of sight.

I am used to fledglings doing a lot of ledge walking on the buildings they get to on their first few flights, but I checked every ledge I could see and came up empty.  The good news is that I haven’t gotten any reports of rescues, so I will assume they are okay.  Unfortunately, there has not been any reports of the third juvenile, and it should have been seen by now if it was healthy.

The adults have continued to perch on the NE corner of the courthouse, but have also started using the One Fountain antenna.  As the fledglings more farther afield, the adults will use the courthouse less and less.  They don’t perch close to the fledglings because they would be pestered for food constantly.  And, the fledglings are adult sized and can actually harm an adult when going after food.

Please send any falcon sightings you have to ekampmue@grcc.edu.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/08/2016

6/8/16: Ledging

Sometime between 1pm yesterday and 10am this morning the two juveniles left the nest box.  The male was hanging out next to the nest box.  A female was found perched on a low section of the roof ledge, middle of the north side of the building.  Both adults were seen in the area.  Unfortunately, I did not see a third juvenile.

If things go as they have in the past, the juvenile down on the floor of the roof will make her way up to the main roof ledge and maybe back to the nest box level before attempting a true first flight.  Could be tomorrow?

Need to report a falcon in trouble?  See the previous post.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/06/2016

When rescue is needed

The process of learning to fly is not always easy, and nailing the landing is the hardest part.  Juvenile falcons sometimes end up in awkward places like window ledges or the roofs of short buildings.  As long as the juvenile is up high enough that cats or raccoons are unlikely to get to them, they can be left alone.  When in doubt, call one of the emergency contacts below.

Juvenile falcons that land on the ground, even if uninjured, often need help.  This is especially true if they are on or near a road or other busy place.  In that case, it is best to call in an expert while keeping people from getting too close. Please refrain from picking up the falcon, either you or the falcon can end up getting injured!

DNR APPROVED EMERGENCY CONTACTS:

  1. Wildlife Rehab Center: 616-361-6109 (Local rehabber)
  2. Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center  231-821-9125 (Muskegon)
  3. Kent County Courthouse facilities staff can also help keep the falcon safe and contact the above experts.

 

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