Tuesday, April 14, 2015

While we wait... some updates.

As I sit and watch these birds incubating the theme from the game show Jeopardy is playing in my head. You know the one they play while the audience is waiting for a contestant to answer a question.

An update on Blaze...
As most of you remember, one of the falcons from last nesting season suffered an injury and was not able to be released back into the wild. If you don't remember or are new with the blog and would like to learn the background on Blaze please visit the blog entry from December 5, 2014.
We recently heard from the Ohio Bird Sanctuary that Blaze did her first school programs last week and was a big hit with both students and teachers! The program evolves around the natural history of peregrines, human effects on their population and the restoration projects in Ohio. Great job Blaze!

Something interesting today....
There were some unsuspecting visitors to the ledge today. The below picture was captured at about 9:45 this morning of some pigeons that were rambling down the ledge towards the nestbox. The incubating bird (Spark) took notice but remained on the eggs during the unexpected visit.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Donations Part 2, Falcon ID

Another week of incubation down and things are moving along well (fingers crossed).
As we are sitting around twiddling our thumbs I would like to take a moment to talk about the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. We often get questions of how people can support Ohio's wildlife. Since the ODNR, Division of Wildlife is primarily funded through the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, the obvious way would be to purchase one or more of these licenses but there are other ways as well. In the last blog post we talked about the Ohio tax check off option. Another way anyone (whether an Ohio resident or not) can contribute to Ohio's wildlife and projects like the peregrine falcon project is to purchase an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp.

Buying an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp allows wildlife enthusiasts the opportunity to directly impact the future of Ohio's native animals.  For $15 you'll receive a collectible stamp, window cling and commemorative card. 
Besides programs like the Columbus Falcon Cam, Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp proceeds support:

  • wildlife and habitat research projects
  • endangered & threatened native species habitat restoration, land purchases and conservation easements
  • keeping common species common
  • educational products for students and wildlife enthusiasts
The 2015 Stamp is of an eastern bluebird. Each year there is a photo contest to select the next years stamp. For more information on how to enter the contest please follow the photo contest link. If you would like to order the current Wildlife Legacy Stamp or a past stamp (consider collecting them all!) print and send the Official Mail Order Form or you can order Wildlife Legacy Stamps through the Wild Ohio Customer Center.

(Commercial break is over...back to the falcons.)
Time to review how to identify which falcon is sitting on the eggs. Remember in the raptor world, males are smaller than the females. Below is a side by side comparison of the male (Spark) and female (Durand) as they are incubating. In these photos you can see how much more body mass the female has than the male. The only other visual field mark that we have found to help tell Durand and Spark apart is a white area above Durand's beak that Spark does not have.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Hurry up and...wait and DONATE!

Everything is going well at the nest. There were a couple of reports of a peregrine fighting with another bird downtown yesterday morning. I don't have any specific details but when this happens, it can be anything as simple as a falcon chasing a migrating turkey vulture out of its airspace to perhaps a peregrine defending against another unmated peregrine trying to move into the territory.  One report indicated that the battle went on for a few hours, so it is possible another peregrine was in the area.  Regardless--all views via the cams were normal so despite whatever happened, the defending peregrine did a great job of keeping the potential intruder at bay so that there was no undue disturbance to the nest.  Such is a typical day in the life of a peregrine and it is important for us all to remember that there is a lot more to these birds' lives then we see via the cams.

Four appears to be the final count for the eggs. From now until hatch both adults will incubate with the majority of the duty being done by Durand. When it's time for her to stretch her wings Spark eagerly takes his turn sitting on “the rocks”.  Incubation typically lasts about 33 days; when calculated out we can expect hatching to start about the last week of April.

Since everyone is in a wait and see mode now and since the tax deadline is just around the corner I would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone that if you enjoy watching the Columbus FalconCam and would like to support Division of Wildlife projects like this, Ohioans can easily donate part or all of their state income tax refund by checking the box on line 27b of the 2014 Ohio Income Tax Form or line 20b on the 2014 Ohio 1040 EZ form.  We hope that Ohioans will take advantage of this convenient way to support our programs.  We will post in the coming weeks about other ways for folks in state and out to help as well!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Egg Number FOUR

The FOURTH egg was laid today at about 3:05 pm!!  A few minutes prior I noticed that Durand was no longer tight on the eggs but seemed a little restless so I started to watch closer.  Sure enough, within a few minutes--there it was...egg #4.  I know some fans were anxious to witness it since most of the other eggs this clutch were laid under the cover of darkness.  Hopefully, someone out there was able to record it.  I'll post a link if so...
Will there be a 5th egg?  It is certainly possible although 4 is the "normal" clutch.  Only time will tell...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Third Egg!

As of this morning, the egg count is up to THREE!  Even though in a previous post I explained that incubation doesn't generally begin until most or all of the eggs have been laid, yesterday's cool weather in Columbus (high only about 35F) had the adults pretty tight on the eggs most of the day.  Temps will warm a bit today and some sun is in the forecast but even so, from this point on (3 eggs) we'll mostly see an adult setting on the eggs.  Durand will take care of most of the incubation duty.  Spark's main job is to provide food for her and to take over incubation while she leaves the nest to eat.  He may spend his time when not hunting on the nest ledge or elsewhere nearby but probably won't be in view of the cameras much except for when they switch places.  
We'll post more info about what to expect during incubation and how to tell the adults from one another in the near future.  In the meantime, check out the Falcon Facts and FAQs on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Egg Number...Two!

Right on schedule (eggs are laid every 2-3 days), the 2nd egg was in the nest this morning!  The average clutch for peregrines is 4 eggs.  While the adults may cover the eggs for short periods of time at this stage, actual incubation won't begin until most of the eggs are laid (probably after the 3rd egg).  In the meantime, the eggs just stay in limbo and don't begin to develop until they are receiving uniform and consistent warmth from the incubating adult.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

First Egg!!!

As she did in both 2014 and 2013, Durand laid her first egg on March 19!  Here's a pic from late this afternoon. Welcome to the 2015 nesting season!