Tuesday, May 26, 2009

4 weeks old

Everything continues to proceed normally in the nest. The chicks are spending a lot of time exploring the ledge and starting to practice flapping. Here's a video clip of one of the females (presumably because the chick is so large) out for a "flap-about." Watch how she reacts when a fluffy down feather floats up in front of her!

Earlier, Apollo (presumably because this nestling is so small) was begging one of the adults for food inside the nestbox.
Here's a good shot of a couple of the chicks to document their size at the age of 4 weeks:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where are the chicks?!

The chicks are really becoming more mobile and are now all venturing out of the nestbox. I believe today is the first time that I've seen the nestbox completely empty. The bad news about this is it won't be as easy to see them but the good news is, that they are less likely to "whitewash" the front of the camera - so, our chances of having a clear view of the nestbox are greater.

They should come back to the nestbox to sleep, if there is bad weather and perhaps for meals. Eventually though, the adults will bring food to they where ever they happen to be on the ledge.

Again, there is no danger in the near future of them falling off of the building as they will not be able to make it up to the higher part of the ledge that leads to the edge. Here's a shot of one of the chicks outside and almost around to the back of the nestbox:
Got a good question the other day - someone asked how the chicks get water. At this stage in their lives all the water they need comes from the prey they are fed. As adults they can and will occasionally drink from a stream or puddle, but in general birds of prey obtain the water they need from what they eat.

Local TV coverage of the banding

Here's a link to Columbus' NBC station, WCMH, Channel 4. Meteorologist Ben Gelber reported nicely on the banding:

WBNS (Channel 10) was also at the banding. They said they were going to run a story on their noon news yesterday but I was unable to locate any reports on their website.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Banding goes well

The Columbus banding event went extremely well. The breakdown of chicks ended up being 3 females and 1 male. All of the kids who won the naming contest were there and extremely enthusiastic to help with "their" falcon. Believe it or not we actually do get criticism from a few individuals for banding these birds. It's too bad because 1.) banding is important for research purposes (how else would we know where our Columbus young disperse to and that it is Orville and Scout here in Columbus?); and 2.) the actual banding event really helps to raise awareness about the species and wildlife conservation in general. Regarding the naming contest, we are able to educate an entire school about peregrine falcons and increase the appreciation of the kids for wild creatures in their communities. Consider it an investment in the future!

While the chicks and adults may be stressed during the event they recover very, very quickly. We know from many years of banding many nestlings that an hour out of the lives of these birds is well worth the exposure that the species gets and the education and awareness that results.

Here are the details on names/bands. Each bird received a purple U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service band on the right leg and a black over red band (b/r) on the left leg:
Apollo: 50/A
Aerial: 65/H
Jet: 66/H
Eclipse: 67/H

At some point in the near future we should have a video of the banding available on our website. It will take a little time for editing. As soon as it's ready and posted, I'll post the link here. Thanks to everyone for watching the banding! Now we prepare for the next stage--fledging! It won't be long!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last minute details on banding

Banding is set for tomorrow at 10 a.m. If you subscribe to the Division of Wildlife's eNewsletter you saw that the banding was advertised to be broadcast over the nestbox stream. However, problems were encountered yesterday during setup and testing so as of today, the banding is set to be shown on the ledgecam feed. This is not ideal as it will prevent viewers from having the extra view from the ledgecam to watch during retrieval of the chicks and to watch the adults while the chicks are inside the building during the actual banding. However, there are some last minute adjustments that will be tried early tomorrow morning and IF we can get the problems sorted out, then we WILL show the banding on the nestbox feed. Bottom line: if you click on one feed and the banding is not happening, try the other feed! If possible, we will have a notice on the website to point people in the right direction and eliminate confusion.

I am told that the normal 8 minute timeout of the video feed will be disabled to allow viewers to watch the banding without having to reload the page. That's good news!

Finally, the banding is scheduled to begin about 10 a.m. If you happen to be watching earlier do not be alarmed if you see Division of Wildlife personnel out on the ledge. Sometimes we need to access the ledge ahead of time to prepare for the banding. Further, with the last minute testing there may be times when the feed is unavailable temporarily. We are sorry for this convenience but it is necessary to have things ready to go. I hope that the live streaming works without a hitch and I hope everyone enjoys being able to witness it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

And the winning names are...!

The votes are in (over 3,000 of them!) and this year's Columbus falcon chicks will be named:

Thanks to the students of Scottish Corners Elementary School for participating in the contest and thanks to everyone for voting.
The chicks are nearing their 3rd week birthday and continue to grow! They are becoming more mobile and one even ventured just outside/in front of the nestbox. There is a several inch step (~10") up onto the actual ledge so even if they go for a stroll there is no danger of them falling off of the building. At this stage they are still too small to get up the step that leads to the edge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A view through the haze!

Here's a glimpse of three of the nestlings through the tiny sliver of still clear lens from earlier today:

The chicks are becoming more mobile and walking around the nestbox. Hard to believe they are only 2 1/2 weeks old!

Banding is scheduled for next week: Thursday, May 21 at 10 a.m. It will be shown over the nestbox live streaming view. Crews will begin setting up inside the building on Tuesday, May 19 which will include hooking up the necessary cables and testing the system. So, there may be times during the day on Tuesday that the feed is unavailable. Hope everyone can tune in on Thursday! Voting for the names of the chicks ends today. The winning names will be announced on Monday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nestbox view

I've hinted that this day will come and it finally did - one of the chicks has hit the front of the camera with its feces thus obscuring our view. Here's the smeary picture:

Banding has been scheduled for next Thursday, May 21. We'll clean the lens when we access the ledge that day. Unfortunately, until then we won't have a clear look at the chicks. More details on the banding later this week.

Luckily, I did capture an image to document their size at 2 weeks of age before the privacy shield was put up(!):

Monday, May 11, 2009

Details on naming "contest"

Names for falcon chicks are selected different ways for the different nests around Ohio. Here in Columbus we use a process that involves school children. First, we choose a local school (usually one that is certified as a WILD School Site) to hold a "contest" for the falcon names. Students in the school submit names. Generally we request names not be human names, they be gender-neutral and represent the majesty and power of a peregrine falcon. From there the list of names is narrowed down by a panel of local wildlife enthusiasts. The pool of names is then put on our website for the public to decide the final outcome.

This year's school is Scottish Corners Elementary in Dublin (a suburb of Columbus). From over 200 names our panel** has narrowed the choices to 11*. The web poll is up as of this morning and will be available until about 5 p.m. on Friday, 5/18 on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website for all the falconcam fans out there to cast their vote. The top 4 names with the most votes will be used.

*There was originally 12 names selected for the poll, however, it was discovered that one student had submitted 2 entries and both made it to the poll! Rules of the contest are given to the school and state only one submission per student. So, the name "Glider" was deemed ineligible. It still may appear on the poll, however, should it place in the top 4, we will take the name with the next highest number of votes as a winning name.

Names will be "assigned" to the young falcons when the nestlings are banded, date TBA. The students who submitted the winning names will be invited to attend the banding. At this time we hope to broadcast the banding on our website via the live streaming video. More details to come as we finalize plans.
**The 2009 panel included: Larry Mixon, Sr. (a member of the Ohio Wildlife Council, the 8-member board appointed by the Governor that approves all Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations), John Switzer (columnist for The Columbus Dispatch), Tom Sheley (owner, Wild Birds Unlimited), Jane Beathard (columnist for the Ohio Outdoor News) and Billie Norris (Division of Wildlife).

Friday, May 08, 2009

Video clip of Scout preening her feathers

Here's a video clip of Scout preening this afternoon. I noticed she looked pretty ragged--it was because her feathers were all wet. She must have just taken a bath somewhere:

Starting on Monday, May 11 and continuing through Friday, May 15, a webpoll will be posted on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website so everyone out there can vote on their favorite names for this year's chicks. More details will be posted next week on how the names were selected for the webpoll.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

1 Week Old

The nestlings are now one week old and have grown considerably. My goal at this stage of the nesting cycle is to try and post a similar photo each week to document the size of the chicks as they grow.

You'll notice the walls of the nestbox are beginning to get "decorated" with whitewash--falcon poo, that is. When they have "to go," the chicks project their feces up and out away from the nest to help keep the immediate nest area clean. During this process anything in the way gets coated. It's not so bad right now that they are still small, but as they grow they will inevitably hit the front of the camera housing and the resulting smears may obstruct our view.

I was asked earlier this week by a co-worker, how many feeding trips are made each day. I've never actually counted but would guess at least 6-8. I usually notice 2-3 during the first half of the day. Double that for the second half of the day and then figure in a couple more and there's the basis for my estimate. I'm sure some of the diehard watchers out there could say for certain!

The actual number of trips will vary depending on the size of the prey items the adults bring in. Since Orville is smaller, he likely concentrates on hunting smaller songbird-size prey while the larger Scout can take birds with more bulk to them. Oftentimes, the male will cache food as well, so if he isn't successful hunting he can always fall back on his reserve supply.

As the nestlings grow, so will their requirements for food! The adults will be very busy for the next several weeks with four chicks to feed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Not much to do but eat and sleep...

Things continue to progress normally in the nest. With a nice, seasonable day in Columbus (60's) the chicks are able to be left unattended and Scout can have a break from brooding. Not much for the nestlings to do at this stage except sleep, eat, sleep some more, eat again and oh, yes, did I mention sleep? Here's a quick shot from this afternoon of one of the chicks yawning:I also captured a video clip of a feeding this morning:
It's amazing how fast they grow. They aren't even a week old yet and their size has dramatically increased!

Names are currently being submitted through a contest at a local school. Late this week a committee will narrow the list of names submitted down to a smaller group that will appear as a webpoll on our website - so, all the falconcam fans out there will be able to vote on their choice of the names for this year's Columbus falcon chicks. The kids who submit the names that ultimately win will be invited to the banding, date to be announced.

At this time we hope to be able to live stream the banding, as we did in 2008. However, as everyone is well aware, technology has not been our friend this year! We continue to have problems with the ledgecam sound cutting in and out as well as the limitation with the nestbox refresed still photos. We are looking ahead and will certainly make it happen if at all possible!

Friday, May 01, 2009

All well in the nest

Things are going well in the nest and all 4 chicks are being fed. One thing to notice is that the nestbox is already starting to get cluttered and dirty - besides the egg shells scattered about there is also the remains of prey - feathers and whatnot "decorating" the gravel. As time goes on the inside of the nestbox will get quite filthy with additional prey remains and falcon feces on the walls and sometimes on the camera lens! One just needs to go back through photos in the blog archives from previous years to see how things change as the nestlings grow.Traffic on the blog has increased 40+% with excitment over the hatch. There are now folks from 32 countries around the world checking in on the Columbus falcons! Thanks to everyone for watching and thanks for reading the blog!

I've also gotten a few inquiries on when we will turn on the nestbox sound. Unfortunately, with the current setup we will likely be without sound for the duration of this nesting season. No sound happens to be a casualty of being in between the old and new camera systems (the mic for the old system was removed in anticipation of switching over to the new system which was not able to be implemented as desired). So, bottom line we cannot provide sound at the nest (there is still sound with the ledgecam). We apologize for the inconvenience.