Posted by: grperegrines | 06/07/2018

6/7/18: Update on both sets of chicks

Those of you who watch the GVSU nest cam know that the male chick was out of the box for most of today.  He appeared back in the box just before 6:30pm.  Based on observations by those at GVSU, he was probably somewhere on the roof where they couldn’t see him.  It is likely he didn’t take a true first flight, but hopped/jumped/flapped his way from one place to another.  It is a great sign that he was able to make his own way back into the box.  His sister made her way out to the front bar a couple of times, but was otherwise in the box all day.  She likes the front corner under the camera where we can’t see her.  My best guess is that the male might take a true flight tomorrow, with his sister following on Saturday.

The two chicks in the Kent County Courthouse box were standing at the front of the box when I observed them about 7pm this evening.  One adult was perched nearby.  Looking at their plumage, the two females look to be a day or so younger than the female in the GVSU box, so their first flights might be Sunday.  That box is situated differently, so sometimes the chicks drop down to the roof level and run around down there, hopping/jumping/flapping up to the roof ledge periodically for a day or two before their first flight.

As these four are about to find out, landing is a lot harder than taking off, so it isn’t unusual for a fledgling to end up on the ground.  If it can make its way up off the ground and isn’t too close to a road, it will probably be okay.  If its injured or in harm’s way, the best thing to do is to contact the security or maintenance people at either GVSU or KCC.  If that isn’t possible, send me an email and I can alert the proper people.

I’d appreciate any observations you have of these falcons, even if there isn’t an emergency situation.  It’s pretty easy for them to end up in strange places as they learn to fly, so having more eyes watching helps us keep track of them.

p.s. I expect the GVSU cam will be moved to show us more of the front bar soon.

Posted by: grperegrines | 06/05/2018

6/5/18: Band information

The information for the bands placed on all four chicks by the DNR is below.

GVSU Eberhard Center:

Female – Black 27 over Blue K on left leg, silver USFW band on right leg

Male – Black 31 over Blue C on left leg, silver USFW band on right leg

Kent County Courthouse:

Female #1 – Black 28 over Blue K on left leg, silver USFW band on right leg

Female #2 – Black 29 over Blue K on left leg, silver USFW band on right leg

Note that the numbers on the USFW bands are unreadable unless you are holding the bird, so I didn’t list them here.

It’s nice that we’ll be able to tell the male by either the number or the letter on his left leg, but we’ll have to see both digits of the top number to tell the females apart.  Size will also help, as males are generally about 1/3 smaller than the females.

When will they finally take off?  I’d say probably Thursday at the earliest, but I’ve been surprised before!


Posted by: grperegrines | 06/03/2018

6/3/18: Fledging likely this week

The chicks are getting big and sporting less and less downy white every day.  Fledging (taking their first flight) commonly occurs between 35 and 40 days after hatching, with males generally launching a day or two younger than females.  In my experience, chicks tend not to truly fledge until the only visible down is on the top of their heads with maybe a wisp or two elsewhere.  So, I think the chicks in both nests are still several days away from taking flight.  They might get bold enough to hop out to the front ledge, which is very scary for the GVSU chicks because it’s a 10 floor drop to the ground from there, and the river is close.  The courthouse nest box is on an inner section, so chicks can land one floor down onto the main roof floor and run around safely.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/25/2018

5/25/18: Banding day success

On Thursday, the 24th, DNR biologists banded two chicks in each nest box.  The GVSU nest box had a male and a female, while the Kent County Courthouse had two females.  (Observers had only seen one chick for sure at the courthouse, so it was nice to hear about the second one.)  I don’t have the band numbers/letters yet, so I’ll pass those on when I get them.

The adults at both sites did their jobs, trying to protect their babies.  This was Majestic’s first experience with this process and she didn’t quite know what to do, though she made a lot of noise and did some swooping at those doing the banding.  The adult male was absent for quite a while and when he appeared it was to land on the ledge next to the box to deliver lunch.  He took off with a squawk, dropped off the prey somewhere, then came back to make some swoops of his own.  Once the chicks were returned to the box, it took Majestic 8-10 minutes to land on the box to check on her babies.  It will be interesting to see if she gets more aggressive over the years, like the female at the courthouse is.

The courthouse female swooped close enough to make the DNR guys duck, as you can see in the photo below.  (They wear hard hats for a reason!) She was the one doing most of the swooping, while the male made large loops around the courthouse area to guard against any other aerial attack.  Once the ladder was taken away, the adult female landed on the nest box within a minute.  Another observation that surprised us was that both adults were on the courthouse before the banders arrived.  The female was in the box and the male on the roof ledge.  My guess is that they heard all the commotion at the GVSU box and were on guard.

Many thanks to Elaine F for sharing her great photo, taken as the chicks were being returned to the box.banding 1 May 24 2018

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/23/2018

5/23/18: Banding day plans

Banding of the peregrine falcon chicks in both the GVSU and Kent County Courthouse nest boxes is scheduled for tomorrow morning, Thursday, May 24.  The process should get started at GVSU about 10am and take about half an hour or so.  Then the DNR team will move to the courthouse to repeat the process.  I’ll post the band information as soon as I get it (sometimes takes a day or two), so we can tell the chicks apart.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/18/2018

5/18/18: Chick confirmed in courthouse nest box

This morning I was able to see that at least one chick is alive and well in the nest box on the Kent County Courthouse.  It appears to be about the same age as those in the GVSU nest box.  Banding will probably take place next week for both sets of chicks.  I’ll post an update when I know an exact date and time.

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/07/2018

5/7/18: Kent County Courthouse nest update

This afternoon I found an adult in brooding position (upright, with wings out) in the nest box on KCC. The chicks were not visible, but are likely a few days younger than those in the GVSU box.
The second adult was on the Children’s Hospital elevator shaft again. I was able to see that this adult is banded, but it was too far away to see details. The plumage made me think of Art from previous seasons, but I’m pretty sure Art is the one we lost last year, so it will be exciting to see if we can get a read on the bands to ID this one.
What a milestone it would be for GR to have two successful nests this year!

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/02/2018

5/2/18: 2nd hatch – GVSU nest

The second chick hatched overnight and is looking healthy.  Check out the pictures posted on the Peregrine Falcon Southwest Michigan Facebook page.  You can find a link to that page in the list on the right hand side.

Now the real fun begins!

Posted by: grperegrines | 05/01/2018

5/1/18: First hatch – GVSU nest

first hatchling 2018At 12:04pm today, Mom stood up to reveal a very wet first chick.  The second egg appears intact, with no pips visible, so incubation will likely continue.

Posted by: grperegrines | 04/30/2018

4/30/18: Two active nests in Grand Rapids

This afternoon I finally checked on the Kent County Courthouse nest box.  An adult peregrine was doing some rearranging and/or egg rolling before settling down to incubate.  The second adult was keeping watch from the SW corner of the grey elevator shaft on the south side of Children’s Hospital.  It is likely that they laid their eggs after the GVSU pair laid their’s, but there really is no way to know until we see chicks.

As for the GVSU pair, I think it is very likely that the hatching process has begun.  The adults are not sitting down as far, and they are holding their wings slightly out from their bodies, which generally means brooding.  However, there were two intact eggs at my last view of them about 2pm this afternoon.  Remember that it can take a day for a chick to break out of the egg, so not to worry yet.

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