Thursday, July 01, 2010

An Unexpected Loss - Scout

What a tough week for falcon watching in Columbus....first the loss of Swoop and now I'm sorry to report that Scout, our adult female, was found dead this morning. I received a call shortly before lunch from a downtown worker who saw her on the edge of Broad Street. The cause of death is believed to be head trauma likely from hitting the LeVeque Tower.

I mention frequently about how the fledglings need to learn to avoid obstacles like windows. It is easy to forget that these same obstacles still present a danger to even the most experienced adult falcon.

I believe that Scout was likely flying near where Spirit may have been perched. Perhaps she misjudged and hit the building. Or maybe she was in pursuit of prey. We probably will never know.

Looking back on Scout's history: she first was observed in Columbus in November of 2006 having hatched in 2005 from the New Center/Fisher Building in Detroit, Michigan. Ironically the adult female that reared Scout was "Alpha" fledged from the 2001 Columbus nest!

In Scout's first nesting attempt in 2007 4 eggs were laid but were infertile. Along with Orville she produced 4 young in both 2008 and 2009. This year two young were reared with Trooper.

Now that Scout is gone, it opens the territory for a new female. While you may have heard that falcons "mate for life" this means something very different to people than it does to peregrines. Basically, peregrines (as well as other birds of prey and even Canada geese) keep the same mate for as long as the two are alive. However, when/if something happens to one of the pair, the remaining bird will readily accept a new mate. In the case of peregrines, sometimes a new mate is had in a matter of hours! There's no room for being picky or mournful when your "job" is to reproduce and carry on the species! So while watching Spirit's progress, we will also need to be alert to the possibility of a new female coming into the Columbus territory. There are so many unmated falcons ("floaters") out there it could happen at any time but likely won't be until fall or winter. Here is one of the most "famous" photographs of Scout taken by Tim Daniel, Division of Wildlife photographer.On a much more positive note, Spirit was sighted on the LeVeque Tower around 1:30 this afternoon and all appeared well. Trooper will continue to provide food until Spirit masters her own hunting skills.