Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nestbox Maintenance

The nestbox was spruced up today thanks to summer intern, Alexis Sakas. Dirty gravel was removed, the inside walls painted and fresh gravel put in. We also cleaned the camera lens. The new gravel put in was damp, so that is why it looks a little darker in this photo (especially in the rear of the box):Interestingly, neither of the two unhatched eggs were anywhere to be found so we won't be able to say for sure if they were infertile or if the embryos died during development (but my educated guess would be the eggs were infertile). So where did they go/what happened to the eggs? As the nestlings got larger and more mobile over time the eggs likely could have been broken by accident and then decomposed and/or even been consumed by the falcons. As usual, the nest box was a total mishmash of dusty, dried and smelly falcon feces and bits and pieces of prey remains including feet, feathers, wing fragments, etc. therefore egg shell fragments (if any were present) could have easily gone undetected as the mixture was scooped out.

Overall, maintenance was pretty uneventful. No peregrines made an appearance while we were working but then again as hot and muggy as it was it was best for them to sit tight where ever they were!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Surprise Visit From Spirit, Ledge Maintenance Update

Those still following the cams caught a surprise visit from Spirit this morning, Sunday, August 1, 2010. While no band codes confirmed the sighting, it is very probable this was Spirit, as another juvenile passing through the area would have likely been chased out of town by Trooper and Durand. Additionally, this bird popped in and out of the nestbox with distinct familiarity. Great to see she is doing well!

I'm hoping to run maintenance on the nestbox in the next week or two. The gravel will be changed out with new, clean stone. The inside of the box will receive a fresh coat of paint and the camera lens will be cleaned. The two eggs that did not hatch (if still present) will be retrieved and examined to see if they were fertile or not.

I will also look at the back corner behind the nestbox to come up with ideas to lighten that area up so as to help alleviate the extreme dark conditions experienced during late day viewing. The problem of the corner going so dark occurs because bright light is coming into the camera when the sun is in the western sky in the afternoon. That makes the camera want to adjust for extreme light conditions. But, at the same time the corner (by the nature of the color of the walls and shadow at that time of day) is very dark, which makes the camera want to adjust to dark conditions. Between the two extremes, the afternoon sun ultimately wins and the cam's iris adjusts for the light which makes that dark corner even darker. Unfortunately, building management won't let us paint the walls (can't say I blame them!) so perhaps a possible solution will be to install light colored panels to help brighten up that corner to make late day viewing better. So another goal of the trip is to brainstorm.

The video feed to the cams will be temporarily disabled while we are accessing the ledge for the work.