Posted by: grperegrines | 09/12/2017

9/12/17: Few and far between

That describes the reports of peregrines in the downtown area the last two months.  Falcons were seen near both nest boxes in mid-August, but I’ve had no reports since.  Raptor migration should be beginning and we’ve had a variety follow the Grand River through downtown, including bald eagles, osprey, and falcons.  Typically, it is the male peregrine that finds a good lookout perch to defend his territory.  In the past, that has often been on the top of the Amway Grand tower, but I have yet to see a bird there.  This year’s juvenile should already have left the area on it’s first migration.

As always, your observations of falcons are welcome!

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Posted by: grperegrines | 07/06/2017

7/6/17: No news is good news

There haven’t been any observations of the fledgling reported since my last post, which hopefully means that it has been flying well and getting fed.  I would have heard about a rescue or if a body had been found, which is where the title of this post comes from.  Assuming this juvenile follows the pattern of past fledglings, it is still somewhere in the general area of the nest box.  However, we don’t have any experience with the preferred perches in this location, so it is difficult to know where to start looking for it.  By the middle of August it should be catching its own meals and exploring further away before leaving on its first migration in early fall.  Since peregrines are territorial, juveniles rarely return to the area where they were born because they would be chased away by their parents if they did.  Unfortunately, without being banded, there is no way for us to know if this one eventually finds a mate.

As for the chick that left the nest too early, evidence of a window strike was found below the nest box.  The most likely conclusion is that the chick was injured and not able to get to a safe place where it could be found or rescued.

This hasn’t been a great season for the Grand Rapids peregrines, however the establishment of a second nest suggests we have some interesting years of falcon watching to look forward to.  Many thanks to all those who who sent in observations and to the GVSU crew that installed and maintain the nest box and cam, especially Bill and Todd!  I’ll be posting  occasional updates when peregrine falcon sightings in the area are reported.

 

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/26/2017

6/26/17: Fledging and Flight practice

Late last night, and several times this morning, the juvenile falcon that left the nest box on Saturday has been seen taking short flights from one building to another around the Eberhard Center.  Reports are that the flights are getting stronger.  The adults have not been seen feeding it yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long before parents and offspring reconnect.

A few good flights are not a guarantee that all will be well from now on, so please continue to send in your observations.  Many thanks to those who have already done so!

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/24/2017

6/24/17: Out of the box

I apologize for not posting earlier in the week, but I didn’t have enough information to do anything but speculate.

On Tuesday, 6/20, about 2pm in the afternoon, one of the chicks left the nest box.  Several attempts were made to locate the juvenile that afternoon and evening, without success.  We don’t know what happened, but there is still a chance it is on a rooftop somewhere.  After this much time without being seen, chances are slim that it has survived.  This chick was the slightly more developed one, but it still had more visible down than most fledglings, so it may not have been strong enough to really fly.

The second chick stayed in the box and used the extra space to do a lot of wing exercises, especially yesterday and this morning.  Very little down is still visible on this juvenile.  About 3pm today, 6/24, it disappeared.  After the camera operator confirmed that it wasn’t in the box, I was able to get downtown to look for it.  I didn’t have to look very hard, because it was laying on a roof ledge on the Eberhard Center below and to the south of the nest box.  An adult, probably Mom/Majestic, was perched on one of the big blue letters just above it.  I saw the juvenile walk along the ledge, but it must be on something that runs along the bottom of the letters and not along the actual edge of the building, because it was out of sight entirely part of the time.  I also saw the second adult make a loop around the building, then leave.  According to another watcher, an adult tried to deliver food to the nest box a little while later, but took the food away when it realized no one was home.  I think this was the second adult, likely Dad.  I had left already, so I don’t know if the food was delivered to the juvenile in its new location or not.

The ledge the juvenile was on is just two hops from the nest box, so I’m not sure we can say this bird has truly fledged.  It may not have flown out and back, just jumped to a new location.  We’ll be checking on him/her as often as we can in case it gets into trouble on its early flights.  It could be another day or two before it ventures very far.

If you are interested in seeing the falcons for yourself, one of the best places to observe from is the Blue Bridge over the river, between Pearl and Fulton streets.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/18/2017

6/18/17: Fledging is probable this week

The chicks in the GVSU/Eberhard nest box are growing feathers quickly, getting bigger, and starting to sit on the front edge of the nest box.  This week they will reach the 35-40 day old window, which is when most peregrine juveniles make their first flights.

As they get closer to taking off their visible down nearly disappears, they do a lot more wing exercising, and they may hop out to the outer bar and back.  The adults may start tempting them to leave by flying in front of the box with food rather than delivering it to the box.

We’ve not had chicks fledge from this location before, so we don’t have any idea where the fledglings will try to go on their first flights. That makes it easy for them to disappear out of sight and important that observers share information.  Please report any observations of fledglings seen away from the nest box to me at malachite16@msn.com.  If you think the fledgling might be in trouble, you can also contact Eberhard Center’s security desk.  In the meantime, enjoy watching the active chicks either on the web cam or live in person!

In other news, the DNR biologist checked out the Courthouse nest box and found one abandoned egg.  We don’t know what happened and can only speculate.   It might be related to the disappearance of the other adult of this pair, that has not been seen since late April.  No one has reported finding a dead adult peregrine, so that disappearance also remains a mystery.   We will hope for a better result at this location next year.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/06/2017

6/6/17: Banding Canceled

Banding of the chicks in the GVSU Eberhard nest box has been canceled because there is no easy access into the nest box.  Any attempt to reach the chicks in the current situation risks panicking them into prematurely leaving the box.   Modifications are planned for later in the year, after the falcons are no longer using the box.

Fledging is not likely to take place until the week of June 18.  I’ll post more about that when we get closer to that time.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/05/2017

6/5/17: Banding Day Scheduled

The chicks in GVSU’s Eberhard Center nest box will be banded by the DNR and GVSU personnel on Thursday, June 8th, between 9am and 10am.  There won’t be much to see from the nest cam, as the chicks are taken out for the banding process.  However, the adults will probably be putting on a protective show above and around the nest box that should be visible from Fulton and the Blue Bridge, or buildings across the river from the Eberhard Center.

I’ll post the band information when I get it, which often takes a few days.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/30/2017

5/30/17: Nest box news

Two weeks ago I was convinced that at least one chick had hatched in the Courthouse nest box, based on changes in the adult’s behavior.  It now looks like either I was mistaken, or the chick(s) did not survive.  The last time a falcon was seen in the nest box was last Wednesday, and it was laying down in the incubation position.  No falcon has been seen in the box since then.  I don’t know if the DNR biologist will check out the Courthouse box when he comes to band the GVSU chicks or not, but I’ll pass on any information if he does.

On a positive note, the GVSU chicks are doing well.  They are doing some wing stretches and their true feathers are starting to show.  Hard to imagine, but these little ones will be the size of the adults and ready to fledge in about 3 weeks.  You may have noticed that the adult female is not in the nest box as much now.  The chicks don’t need her to keep them warm and as they get bigger they will pester her for food almost constantly.  It’s safer for her to stay nearby but out of sight.

I got a brief view of the banded adult male when he stayed on the front perch for a bit.  His left leg has a black band over a band of an undetermined color.  No numbers or letters were visible.  Let me know if you could see more details.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/23/2017

5/23/17: GVSU Female’s ID

Thanks to watchers of the GVSU nest box cam, we’ve been able to confirm the identify of the adult female.  Her band numbers are black 29 over blue M (abbreviated: b/blu 29/M).  According to the Midwest Peregrine Society’s database, she is named Majestic and hatched on Madison Gas and Electric’s Blount Generating Station in Madison, WI in May of 2015.  As just a 2-yr old bird, this is probably her first nesting attempt.  So far, she seems to know just what to do.

We’d still like to confirm the identify of the male at the GVSU nest.  It’s a lot harder because he tends to hand off the prey he catches to the female somewhere outside the box, so we aren’t seeing him on camera very often.  If you catch a glimpse of his bands, or can confirm that he isn’t banded, please let me know!

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/17/2017

5/17/17: Courthouse nest update

It looks like there are one or more chicks in the Courthouse nest box now.   There was an adult standing at the front of the box when I arrived, then it moved back into the box, snuggled something(s) underneath it and settled down so only its wing tips were visible.  The snuggling looked different than the egg rolling I’ve seen during incubation and that’s why I’m so sure there is/are chick(s).   My best guess is that these chicks will be a few days older than the GVSU chicks, but still too small to see unless positioned just right during a feeding.  Hopefully I’ll get lucky and catch a feeding next week and have a chance to determine their age.

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