Friday, November 19, 2010

Empty Ledge - Where are the Falcons?!

Sightings of Durand and Trooper have become less and less over the past couple of weeks. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about. With shorter and shorter days hormone levels are such that the falcons are not so concerned with courting or otherwise bonding to the territory. Rather, their focus is on simply surviving. The end result is less time at the nest ledge which--from our perspective--means less time in front of the cameras.

It is also at this time of year that migratory instincts kick in. Peregrines are notorious for being irregular when it comes to migrating: some do, some don't and even when peregrines do migrate it is not a specific route. The Latin name for peregrine ("peregrinus") translates to "wanderer" which reflects their habits of moving north or south, east or west or all of the above. Since this will be Durand and Trooper's first winter claiming Columbus as their territory we have no idea if they will migrate or not. I haven't received any general reports of peregrines downtown lately so it is unclear if one or both of the peregrines have temporarily moved out of the area or they are just choosing to stay out of view of the cams. Regardless, we can expect activity to pick up again in January once the days begin to get longer.

Despite the tendency of peregrines to wander irregularly during migration some do indeed head south going as far as Central and South America. I received an email from Matt Modlich that included a photograph of a juvenile peregrine perched on a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico! Matt reported that on a recent vacation in early November he observed 3 peregrines flying around and occasionally landing on the ship. The location was about 170 miles due west of Key West, FL. Too bad the falcon did not have leg bands--it would have been very interesting to know the origin of this bird!