Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Update on Spirit and a New Female!

There's been no word on Spirit and in terms of peregrine fledge we take NO NEWS to be GOOD NEWS. Experience over the years has shown again and again when the birds end up in trouble usually someone is aware and makes me aware. So, no reports indicate to me that the bird is doing well. She may or may not come back to the nest ledge--in past years some fledglings have left never to return, others like some of the young from last year's nest came back to the ledge frequently which extended the opportunity to watch the action via the cams last summer. But there's no guarantee we will see Spirit again and if she doesn't come back to the ledge it should not be taken as there is something wrong. There is no reason to expect anything other than the best for this bird. When she left the ledge it was a strong and deliberate flight so I have complete confidence that she is doing well.

Another development is the observation of a new adult female in the territory! The new bird is banded (purple band on the right leg, black over green band on the left leg) and was observed last evening in the nestbox with Trooper. Both Trooper and the new bird were seen on the ledge this morning as well. Here is a video of their interaction last night. One thing I noted is she was not shy about entering the nestbox. When Trooper first showed up it was some time before he would even come to the nest ledge let alone enter the nestbox--it took him awhile to get used to the layout of the Rhodes Tower nest ledge. The female's lack of intimidation with the nestbox could indicate she hatched out of a similar structure. Hopefully we will get a leg band code soon and be able to track her origin (another benefit of banding these birds).

As I indicated there are many unmated falcons out there and a mate change can occur rather rapidly. This is a excellent example of that, however, there is no guarantee that this bird will stay...but without a resident female to defend the territory she won't be chased out of town. What we don't know is if she already has her own territory somewhere else and is just passing through. Only time will tell if she stays or not.

The next logical question is, how will the presence of this new female affect Spirit? At this point I don't believe it to affect her one way or another. Spirit is likely working on perfecting her flight and hunting skills and Trooper will still keep watch and provide food as needed.

Prior to the female showing up Trooper was observed scraping in the nestbox--a common behavior that occurs at the end of nesting season to reinforce the bond to the site. The timing of his scraping and the new female showing up is completely coincidental, although since she is here that has instigated other bonding behaviors as shown in the video.

So, the drama in Columbus continues! How fascinating to have a window into the lives of these magnificent wild creatures who have chosen Columbus as their home. Just think - the same types of dramas play out at other nests around the world but without cameras it is easy to forget that similar life and death situations occur whether these birds are nesting in an urban or rural location and whether people are watching or not. Such is the life of a peregrine falcon.