Friday, May 29, 2015

Almost Time to Fledge

Wow, what a difference a few days makes!  Here is Bolt (N/34) up on the ledge platform and boy, is he looking more and more like a "grownup" peregrine every day!!

While he does have a lot of brown juvenile feathers he still has a lot of the white fluffy down, too.  Peregrines usually take their first flights around the age of 40 days.  Even then, the males, being smaller, will typically take their first flight before the larger, heavier females.  So, given that we could expect Bolt to "bolt" first!  He certainly is the most developed of the 3 nestlings.
The first hatched chick will be 40 days old on June 4, so we probably won't see any first attempts at flight until next week.  But just in case I have already alerted the Rhodes Tower, Columbus Police Department, the Ohio State Patrol and other key individuals downtown that might encounter a young falcon in distress or may have one reported to them.   While Columbus doesn't have an official "fledge watch" this system has worked well for many years as these entities have direct contact information for the Division of Wildlife in case a falcon emergency is reported to them.  Hopefully, all the nestlings will do well as they transition into fledglings!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Upper Ledge Milestone

As Karen said last week, plumage is changing quickly!  Here are a couple of photos of the chicks as they begin their 5th week.  Notice the brown juvenile feathers coming in and the flight (wing) feathers in the photo of the stretch:

Another milestone was reached today when the first of the chicks made it to the upper ledge:
When the chicks get to the upper ledge it can make many viewers nervous...however, while "accidental ledge departures" can happen (due to wind, lack/loss of balance, etc.) at least in Columbus at this nest site it has never happened that a chick went off the ledge before being fully feathered and capable of flight.  Peregrines have been nesting on cliffs for eons and with or without cameras, the chicks all spend time exploring all parts of their nest ledge, whether it be on a rock face in the wilderness or a city skyscraper.  For them it is just a normal day in the life of a peregrine.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In a Blink...

I have the band numbers.
Bolt (male) black/red: N/34
Flash (female) black/red: 37/Z
Storm (female) black/red: 46/Z
Every year I am surprised how fast nesting season goes by. Here is a photo taken at the banding on Monday. Notice that this bird is still very white and fluffy.

Below is a photo was taken today, look at the difference in the feathers. The juvenile brown feathers are quickly coming in, changing their appearance. As the chicks flight feathers begin to fill in they will start exhibiting a lot of flapping behavior, exercising their wings. We have started to notice this a little this week as I watched one of the chicks running around the nestbox flapping their wings. Stay tuned, I'm sure everyone will look very different next week.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Banding Day!

The chicks were banded this morning and all went well.  When we removed the chicks from the nest they were given a brief examination for overall health.  All looked great!  Part of the exam is to determine (based on size) if the chicks are male or female. As is true with most birds of prey, the females are larger than the males. So much so, that females actually require a larger size leg band than the males.  This year's clutch contains one male and 2 females.

The chicks received a band on each leg. Even though the chicks still have some growing to do yet, at this age their legs are about the size they will be as an adult so bands can be safely put on the legs. Bands are lightweight and fit loosely much like a human would wear a bracelet. The right leg was fitted with a silver USGS band which has a multi-digit number (think of it like a social security number) unique to that falcon. This band is usually not able to be read unless the bird is in hand. That's why peregrines often also get a second leg band, called a "color band." This band was put on the left leg and is black on the top, red on the bottom. Color bands have only a few number/letter digits and allow for identifying the bird at a distance.
Here are the students who submitted the winning names:  Bolt, Flash and Storm.  We will post band numbers in the near future.
While we were on the ledge we cleaned the nestbox cam lens...hopefully, the chicks will not soil it again.  This video was captured when the chicks were returned to the nestbox after the banding.

The next major milestone is fledging!  The chicks will take their first flight at about 40 days of age - that will be during the first week of June.   The next two weeks we will see their white fluffy down replaced with brown juvenile feathers.  Isn't it amazing how fast they grow?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

And the Names are....

The voting is complete. Drum roll...
This year's Columbus falcon chicks will be named:

Thanks to all the students of Royal Manor Elementary School in Gahanna for participating in the naming contest and thanks to everyone that voted (there were over 2,700 votes!!). The students submitted a lot of well thought out names.

During the time that the students were submitting their names, I was invited out to the school to talk to the 5th grade science classes about the peregrine falcon project. It was very exciting and motivating to see their enthusiasm firsthand. The students have been learning about ecosystems, food webs, food chains and how peregrines play a role in an urban environment.

For their names being chosen as the winners in a democratic process, the following students are invited to the banding:
Sydney Culp- Bolt
Megan Rogers- Flash*
Zachary Lawson- Flash*
Alexis Alexander- Storm
*The name Flash was submitted by two students.  Usually when this happens we select one student to represent the winning name.  However, since the 4th egg did not hatch we elected to invite both students to the banding.

The 2015 banding of the Columbus Peregrine Falcon chicks  is scheduled for Monday May 18th at 10 a.m. It will be live streamed on the Division of Wildlife's FalconCam website.

This is the last year for Ohio's peregrine falcon banding program. The falcon population has recovered to a point that they were removed from the Federal Endangered Species list in 1999 and will be removed from Ohio's Threatened Species list later this summer. The recovery of the peregrine falcon, like the American bald eagle and white-tailed deer, is a wildlife management success story! After delisting, peregrine falcons will still be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (as are songbirds and other raptors including hawks and owls). The Division of Wildlife will continue to monitor the peregrine falcon population statewide but to a lesser extent.
The success of Ohio's peregrine falcon project would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication for over two decades by state and federal agency employees, non-profit organizations, individual building owners and countless volunteers, including the tens of thousands of Internet viewers around the world who support and follow the Columbus peregrine falcons.  THANKS to ALL.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Last Chance to VOTE

Well, this morning the view is somewhat obscured because one of the chicks defecated on the front of the nestbox camera.  We will clean this at banding but until then, expect a cloudy view.  Above is one of the last pics taken before the shot.
Don't forget to VOTE for your choice of names for the chicks!  The webpoll will be up until noon today!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Falcon News

Since all is well with the nest and there's not much to do other than watch the chicks eat and sleep (and wander around) I thought I'd take the opportunity to give a quick update on some other falcon happenings. Before I do that though, here are links to past blogs to help put some viewer's minds at ease in terms of:
why the chicks aren't in view (where are they?)
And, check out the second half of this post from last year that discusses feeding and are they getting enough to eat?
Finally, the nestlings are vocalizing a lot whether or not they are getting fed.  This is a normal part of peregrine communications and doesn't necessarily mean they are hungry, upset, hot, or whatever.  Like they are and will exercise their wings, stretch their necks, legs and toes, they also are exercising their vocal abilities!

Other Falcon News:
Readers may recall an injured peregrine from Pennsylvania was found in downtown Columbus last September. (See the paragraph about the "mystery" peregrine here.)  I'm happy to report after being in rehab at both the Ohio Wildlife Center and the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, this bird was released back to the wild earlier this week!  Thanks to both organizations for their part in this bird's second chance.
"Eclipse" a fledgling from the 2009 Columbus hatch, has been nesting at a power plant in Oak Creek, WI for the past several years.  There was concern recently she may have been displaced by another female, however, the last report I received was she has reappeared and the eggs in the nest are still being incubated.

Finally, "Aerial" another 2009 Columbus fledgling is currently raising 3 chicks at her nest in Bowling Green!  Just a couple of examples of "our" Columbus peregrines surviving and out there doing their part to continue the population.
Aerial in Bowling Green
Don't forget the webpoll is up until Monday at noon for viewers to choose the names for this year's Columbus Falcon Chicks!  If you haven't voted, please do so!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Mobility Milestone & Vote to Name The Chicks!

Everything is progressing nicely with the 3 chicks.  The adults are readily providing ample amounts of food and the chicks are eating and sleeping, sleeping some more, chirping now and then and yet sleeping some more--all important parts of their development.  Between naps and meals they have even started walking around more.  Today two ventured out of the view of the camera.  Here is a link to a post back in 2013 that explains the layout of the ledge and where the chicks are when out of view of the camera.  While we sit back and watch them grow it's time to play the name game!

Each year we select a local school to host the naming contest and this year it is Gahanna's Royal Manor Elementary School. Students submitted their choice of names and a panel of wildlife partners and representatives from the local media narrowed the entries down to the following finalists:
Mars, Neptune, Saturn*

*New this year, the panel chose a theme of these 3 names to serve as a finalist.  Public vote will decide the winners on a webpoll.  Vote for the name(s) of your choice (the top 3 names with the most votes will win) OR, if the theme of 3 names gets the highest number of votes, those 3 names will be the winners.
Click here to VOTE!
Voting will continue until 12 noon on Monday May 11th.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Looks Like 3 It Will Be

Since the 4th egg hasn't hatched by now, it probably won't.  That means this year's clutch will be 3, the same as last year.  And the chicks are growing by leaps and bounds!  Already, a week old, they have at least doubled their size!  Everything is going extremely well at the nest!