Monday, June 01, 2015

First Flights Soon

This should be the week the nestlings transition to fledglings!  There has been a a fair amount of ledge running and flapping but then the young are pretty content to just rest as well.  Here are a couple of videos captured by a dedicated fan:
A little practice flapping on the ledge.
Bolt self-feeding (notice he is almost fully feathered with most of the white fluffy down now gone)
All of the young are pretty much full-sized by now and the main difference between the fledglings and the adults is what they look like.  Characteristics of the adults (on the left in the photo) are:  blue/gray head, back and wings; white chest with horizontal barring; yellow cere (the part of the beak where it meets the head).  The juveniles have a brown head, back and wings with many vertical streaks on the front and a bluish cere as in the falcon on the right in the photo:
Hopefully, the falcons will take most of the week to practice flapping and build up their wing muscles before attempting flight.  The ideal first flight is when an individual falcon consciously lifts up and off the ledge, out into the airspace.  But it can also occur that a young falcon is accidentally knocked off the ledge (or falls off) due to wind or a scuffle with its nest mates.  Lunging for food or otherwise losing their balance can and does sometimes cause an "accidental" fledge.  But by now all of the young falcons have most of the "equipment" they need in the way of feathers so even if one were to leave the ledge before it really intended to do so, we'd hope at worst it would glide to the ground or another building. The hardest part of flying for these newbies will be learning how to use that equipment--how to steer, glide, gain altitude, land and finding out what is easy to land on, what they can't land on and that windows that look like sky really aren't...