Thursday, April 10, 2014

Birds Eye View

Things at the nest site are progressing nicely!  Incubation was estimated to have begun after the 3rd egg was laid on March 24th. Both adults have been doing a great job with the incubation duties. As Donna mentioned in an earlier blog entry, hatch is expected the 4th week of April.
Now is the period of time when we sit back and wait...wait...wait. The calm before the storm if you will. Once the young hatch the nest box will become a very busy place.
While we are waiting this is a great time to offer a review on identifying 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. (This only helps when the bird is facing the camera.)
By way of the nest box cam, we are always looking into the nest observing the falcons activity. The above pictures are examples of what we see during the months' time of incubation.  Do you ever wonder what the incubation of eggs must be like for a peregrine?  They sit in the same spot and look at the same things for at least 33 days. What is their view during this period?
We thought it would be fun last winter to take a picture from inside the nest box looking out. While we were working at the nest site during the off season we did just that.
We placed a camera in the nest box approximately where the scrape was and took a picture looking out from inside the box to simulate what an incubating peregrine sees. It's a pretty nice view of Columbus!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Right On Schedule

The 4th egg arrived Wednesday night (3/26/14).  Big thanks to the faithful viewers that provided us with this picture of the clutch.  Most likely we won't see any more eggs but never say never.  We can expect to see continued mating activity at least for a few days but that behavior doesn't necessarily mean another egg will be laid.

Monday, March 24, 2014

And Then There Were...THREE!

This morning about 10 a.m. Durand laid egg number 3!!!  Unlike the first two eggs that were laid during the night, this one appeared in "almost" full view.  I say "almost" because Durand unfortunately had her back to the camera in this video of the third egg so you have to pay close attention to figure out what is happening. 
Karen is out of the office today and I was in a meeting so I missed it--thank you very much to the many calls and emails to let me know and to the dedicated viewers recording and saving photos!

The normal size clutch is 4 eggs.  Even though another egg will likely be laid in a couple of days, the adults should begin to incubate at this point in time.  Durand will handle the majority of the incubation duty, while Spark will bring her food and take his turn covering the eggs while she takes a break to eat.  Incubation generally takes about  33 sit back and get comfortable.  Hatch will be expected the 4th week of April. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Egg Number TWO!

We're now up to TWO eggs in the nest - the second one laid sometime during the night.  Evidently, Durand's reproductive system is in "nocturnal mode" with both of the first two eggs this season laid under the cover of darkness.  Here is the clutch of two barely visible at first light this morning:
And, a better view after sunrise with both adults in the box: 

While it is certainly exciting to tune in first thing and see an egg, hopefully, the next egg(s) will be laid during daylight hours giving anxious viewers an opportunity to witness it!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy 1st Egg on the 1st Day of Spring!

After many days of watching and waiting, dedicated viewers finally are seeing the first egg of the 2014 Columbus peregrine nesting season!!!  Technically, Durand laid the egg last evening, March 19, at about 9:43 p.m. but we can all celebrate the first day of Spring today with the first egg!  Interestingly, she laid the first egg last season on the same day of March!

Eggs are laid every 2-3 days but she won't begin to actually incubate the eggs until the majority of the clutch (usually 4 eggs) is laid.  She will stay close to the nest during this period. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Will Winter Ever End?!

Well, it's been a l-o-n-g, cold winter and it seems to be hanging on still with single digit lows during this first week of March!  Despite the weather the ledge has been fairly active the past couple of weeks.  Spark and Durand have been bonding and courting.  There have food exchanges, scraping, vocalizing and even matings!  A sure sign that spring is coming, even if it doesn't really feel like it yet!

Here are links to check out some action you may have missed:
Bonding in the nestbox, March 1
Spark presenting food to Durand, March 1
Mating, March 3
Special thanks to MaryAnne for saving the video clips! ;-)
And a photo of Spark working on the scrape:
As a recap, a peregrine's nest is called a "scrape."  Basically, peregrines do not build a nest by bringing in nesting materials (sticks, mud, grass, etc.) like many birds do.  Rather, they simply scrape/dig out a depression in the substrate in which to lay their eggs.  In the case of man-made nestboxes, the substrate is usually pea gravel placed into a shallow tray or box.  Both the male and female falcons "scrape" by lying on their belly and pushing out with a foot to dig the depression.  They will use their wings for balance as seen in the photo above.  There are 2 main scrapes currently in the nestbox on the Rhodes Tower in Columbus.  One, that Spark is working on in the photo, and the second in the back right corner of the box.  Which scrape the eggs will ultimately be laid in is up to Durand. 

Speaking of is Durand's timeline/history with laying the first egg of the season:
2011-April 3
2012-March 26
2013-March 19
I have noted with watching the Columbus nesting pairs over the years, as females mature they generally lay a few days earlier each year as is evident in Durand's case.  Therefore, we could expect to see eggs this year anytime around/after ~March 15! 

If you haven't noticed yet, the Division of Wildlife recently updated its website and we now offer both the ledge and nestbox live video views streaming at the same time on the same page without a timeout!  Stay tuned - spring is just around the corner and peregrine nesting season will be underway before we know it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WELCOME to 2014!

Despite the extreme fluctuations in weather that Columbus has been experiencing, we are still seeing the falcons visiting the ledge.  Below is a photo taken yesterday morning.
We have had a great year.  After experiencing two years without a successful nest, 2013 was a welcome change.  This was the first nesting attempt for Durand and Spark.  Through watching the nest box cam we learned just how big a part the male can play in the incubation process and Spark really stepped up to the plate to fulfill this duty.
Now that this pair has a successful year under their belt, hopefully we can expect great things for 2014.
Some interesting stats for the time period from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013: Total number of visits: 181,479 (compared to 135,264 in 2012), of these 43,514 were unique visitors. The Highest traffic day was April 30, 2013 with 5,560 visits.  April 30th was the day after Zoom hatched.  Other peak visit days included May 21st (banding day) with 3,877 visits and June 7th (fledge day) with 3,335 visits.

The Columbus nest was viewed by people from 71 different countries!!  The majority of the fans are from Ohio but some of the other top locations include Canada, Netherlands, Germany, and Australia.
Thank you to everyone who has followed the Columbus Falcons over the years.  A BIG THANKS to all the men and women who purchase hunting, fishing licenses, an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp and/or donate to the Wildlife Diversity fund.  Without your support the Division of Wildlife would not be able to fund educational outreaches such as the Columbus FalconCam.