Friday, April 27, 2007

Update on Victory

Victory is doing well. A few weeks ago she was transferred to a falconer who is volunteering his time to work with her. Because of the loss of so many feathers, she will need to be held until after her next molt which will be this spring/summer. Additional feathers were imped but not with the purpose of helping her fly. Rather, the second round of imped feathers are intended to help support the new feathers as they grow back in. It is imperative that the new feathers not be damaged which would be a major setback.

She is adjusting well to her new surroundings. The main task now is to wait until her newly molted feathers are fully in, then she will be exercised and conditioned to get her into shape for release back into the wild. If all goes well and as expected we would hope for a release in late summer or fall.

Scout and Orville continue to take shifts on the eggs and all seems well. The live, streaming video has been very successful except for a few hiccups that we continue to work on. Hatch is expected on or about May 3rd. I'm sure many people will be glued to the site watching for the first indication of hatch. Early next week I'll post more about what to watch for.

Monday, April 23, 2007

LIVE STREAM up and running!

Many have figured out already that the live, streaming video with our new and improved website is up and running as of this morning!! I knew the consultants were working feverishly on it and I was hoping that it would be up sometime this week, but to my surprise it was actually launched TODAY as a test run! If everything goes well we will officially announce it later this week!

There was some concern by viewers on Saturday that the eggs were gone. Nope! Scout just moved them to a different location in the nest box temporarily and as we all know by now, they are back in front of the camera. Victory did the same thing one day last nesting season.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to tell Orville from Scout

Incubation continues on track, however, yesterday during a mate change it looked like there were only 3 eggs. I was pretty sure that it was simply a matter of 2 eggs being close together and the angle of view made it look like it was just 1 egg. Another look later confirmed there are still 4 eggs!
Now, how to tell Orville from Scout?! I think of all the different peregrines we've had in Columbus over the years, Scout and Orville look alike the most! And so, it can be pretty tricky to tell which bird is on the eggs. It seems that Orville has actually been doing a fair amount of incubation duty! I haven't kept specific notes, but more times than not, when I look, he's there. Here are a couple of picture of the 2 birds for comparison (saved for me by Juanita Woods). Juanita did a GREAT job of catching the 2 birds in the same position and the same light:

The top photo is Scout and the bottom photo is Orville. The best fieldmark is basic overall size. Scout is larger than Orville. Her body appears more massive and she takes up more room in the nest box. This is something that you have to get a feel for in order to recognize it. For those of you who also watch other birds, think of the difference between a downy woodpecker and a hairy woodpecker. Both woodpeckers are similar in appearance, but a hairy woodpecker is larger than the downy. It takes a trained eye to tell the difference with a quick glance. The same is true of looking at the peregrines. For me personally, I notice Scout's mass more than Orville being smaller. So, when I initially look I go by the rule, if it isn't obvious that the bird is large, then it's probably Orville.

More pictures:

If you look close in the bottom picture you might also notice that Orville's beak is more yellow than Scout's. Her beak has a small amount of yellow but overall it is darker. His breast is also more white, while hers is more off-white. These traits definitely acquire a trained eye to notice and the tones can and will vary with current lighting inside the nest box. With a couple of more weeks left of incubation, we'll all have plenty of time to continue honing our skills of telling the 2 birds apart!

Friday, April 13, 2007

More on the dead bird & other questions...

Incubation continutes with no problems. During the long stretch of days and weeks of watching a falcon keep its eggs warm, there isn't much action at the nest to post about. I do plan an update on Victory soon but in the meantime I've had a few questions from viewers that I thought would be good to share during this lull in the action.

First, more about the woodcock--it was wondered how far Orville would have to go to find a bird like that. Great question! Actually, (and surprising to many people) not far at all. The American woodcock and many other bird species will follow riparian areas during migration. So, with the river right downtown, the Columbus peregrines have access to a smorgesboard of bird species without too far to travel. Some of the bird species that I have documented as prey by the Columbus peregrines (based on remains at the nest) over the years include: mourning dove, chimney swift, Northern cardinal, American goldfinch, Baltimore oriole, & various woodpecker species. One year I even found a feather that likely came from an escaped parakeet!

More questions:
Q: Will the eggs change in appearance as it gets closer to hatching?
A: Not so much. The eggs may lighten in color slightly. Check out the 2006 photo highlights of hatching last year and you can see the egg shells are a little lighter shade than the eggs as they appear in the nest now.

Q: What happens to the egg shells after hatch?
A: Scout will actually eat some or all of the egg shells. This will help replenish calcium her body used to produce the eggs. Think of it as sort of like a vitamin/mineral supplement! Other shell fragments may just be cast aside or even removed from the nest by the adults.

Q: Are we going to have the live, streaming video this year?
A: Yes! We are in the final stages of preparation. In fact, we will be launching a new and improved website with the streaming video as a viewing option very soon. I can't say exactly when but I do know that our web consultants are working feverishly on it and we will bring it to you just as soon as it is ready to go!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What is that dead bird?!

Incubation continues and all appears normal. As I mentioned previously, Orville's main duty during this time is to provide food for Scout. And, we've been fortunate to see that he has! For the second time this week, there's been a dead bird left within view of the ledgecam. Some concerned watchers have wondered if the carcass was a falcon. Not to fear - both Scout and Orville are fine - what you're seeing is simply "leftovers!"

Today's menu item appears to be an American woodcock. Sometimes also called a "timberdoodle" this short-legged shorebird actually prefers wooded areas.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Is 4 the final count?

Now that the eggs are being incubated full-time it is more difficult to see them. A 4th egg was revealed Saturday, March 31st, a little before 4 p.m.
It is possible there could still be another egg laid, however 4 is the normal clutch. We are glad to see 4 eggs especially since this is Scout's first clutch ever. Hopefully, all of the eggs will be fertile and will hatch. Incubation lasts about 33 days. Therefore, hatch can be expected the first week of May. Scout will do most of the incubating. Orville's main job at this time is to hunt and provide food. Orville will take over incubation duty for brief periods of time when she leaves to eat the prey he brings her.