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!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Packard Takes Flight!

Who in the world is Packard you ask?! Packard is a fictional peregrine falcon that hatched at the Rhodes State Office Tower - he is the main character in the new children's book by Susan Sachs Levine: Packard Takes Flight. One day, Packard accidently fledges with a gust of wind and winds up visiting many sites around our Capitol City before he finds his way back to the nest on the 41st floor of the Rhodes Tower.

I had the pleasure of providing technical advice for this book! Susan first contacted me about two years ago with lots of questions about peregrines and about the falcon nest in downtown Columbus. As work on her book progressed she kept in touch seeking additional information and updates on the peregrines. Congrats to Susan on a delightful story that highlights many of the treasures found throughout the downtown Columbus area, one of which are the peregrine falcons! For more information goto:

Friday, November 05, 2010

Interloper into the Territory!

Well, all has been pretty quiet so far this fall. Durand and Trooper have been seen almost on a daily basis checking in at the ledge, scraping in the gravel and otherwise maintaining their bond with each other and to the site. I have been continuing to work on adjusting camera settings to fine tune the exposure hoping for the end result of a better view of the nestbox on bright, sunny afternoons when that corner of the ledge is usually in shadow. More work is needed but I am confident I should be able to find a happy medium. Later this month we will be updating computers which should help keep the streaming from going down so often. Keep your fingers crossed and think positively for us that the updates and adjustments result in the improvements we anticipate!
Yesterday afternoon there was excitement on and around the ledge--a third falcon appeared and caused quite a stir with Durand and Trooper. Thanks to Mick in Seattle for capturing video of altercations on the ledge as well as dramatic fly-bys.

If you missed it (like I did!), below are links to 3 videos on YouTube that highlight the action. I believe the intruder was an unbanded adult female and is the bird closest to the camera in the second clip and in the photo above. Overall, it appears as though Durand and Trooper successfully defended their territory although we will continue to closely monitor all sightings of falcons via the cams to determine any changeover in individuals. I've said it before and will say it again: this is one instance where having these birds banded really, really assists in knowing who is who. Without leg bands it is so much more of a guessing game!

Video links:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3