Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fledgling Update-Hoshi Returned to the Ledge

We've been fortunate this year that so far after fledging we have had several sightings of the young falcons mainly due to the fact they've been in conspicuous places and certainly thanks to many folks watching downtown.  I've had a number of emails and calls reporting the locations of the fledglings and I appreciate those helping to keep tabs on these youngsters.  Yesterday's rainy weather kept all of the fledglings in the same place most of the day:
Dart (38/D) stayed on the nest ledge
Blaze (48/Z) remained on the Statehouse
Hoshi (31/Z) was spotted on the roof of the Huntington Center (Thanks to Mike Horn for the photo!  While we can't definitively confirm the identification of this individual since the leg bands are not readable, the confirmation of the other 2 fledglings at the same time elsewhere and the flapping behavior of this bird indicate it is likely a young bird and therefore Hoshi):
Then, last evening just prior to 8 pm, viewers were excited to see that Hoshi returned to the nest ledge!!!  Her leg bands were confirmed via the ledgecam.  After a brief visit to the ledge she again flew off.   Here's a video--her "dismount" is at about 1:18 in.

As of this morning the nest ledge appears to be empty therefore, Dart must have flown but so far we have no reports of when or where he might be now.  As I was writing this I watched one of the adults bring in food but no takers so it is safe to assume the nest ledge is vacant again as of this morning.

Every year I get asked about how hard is it for these young birds to take their first flights.  In reality, flying is not the difficult part for a young bird.  As we've all watched these birds grow and develop via the cameras, it isn't hard to notice how flapping came naturally for them, and in the video of Dart's first flight off the ledge the instinct to fly is obvious.  What is difficult about the process of fledging comes after the initial launch into the air - these falcons have the tools to fly (feathers, wings, tail and instinct to flap,) so the act of flying isn't hard.  The tricky part is for them to learn to use those tools, refining their skills of steering, gaining and losing altitude and also landing.  And not just learning how to land, but learning what is easy to land on and what isn't easy to land on.  Further, reflective windows and antennas are some of the hazards these birds encounter in an urban environment.  So the next several days will be the real test for the fledglings as they work on their basic flying skills.  During this process we expect there may be window strikes, rough landings and a falcon may end up in an odd place and/or even be injured.  That is just a normal part of this stage in their lives.  Hopefully, they will all master flight well and quickly and then they can work on learning to hunt for themselves.  The adults will continue to watch over them and  provide food at least for several days as needed.

We still encourage observations to be reported, especially when leg bands can be read, to help us confirm how they are doing.