Thursday, June 09, 2016

Fledgling Report

Each year prior to fledge, I notify many organizations/agencies of what to expect and who to call if they receive a report about a fledgling peregrine in distress.  One of those organizations is the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, which utilizes ambassadors on the streets downtown to help keep the heart of Columbus safe and clean.  Many thanks to one of these ambassadors who, because of my advance notice, knew what to do when he became aware of a peregrine on the ground and in a dangerous place given traffic and pedestrians.  The peregrine was captured and reported to me.  It is believed to be the same falcon that was seen in the alley near the Rhodes Tower last Saturday.  The bird was taken to a wildlife rehabilitator earlier this week for an evaluation and is currently remaining under observation although we are hopeful to release it back at the nest ledge soon.

Sometimes when the fledglings find themselves on the ground, even when they are okay, it can be difficult (but not impossible) for them to get back high to the roof tops.  This is mainly because they lack the experience to know to fly from a low perch to a less low perch then on to a higher perch and so on and so on in order to "stair step" back up to the building tops.  Other fledglings have done great at that.  It just depends on the individual falcon and the individual situation/location it finds itself in.

In addition, when they are on the ground they tend to be a bit bewildered, because they are in a whole different world then they were accustomed to the first 6 weeks of their life.  During these encounters they may show little fear of people--again, because of their age and inexperience they just don't react to that kind of situation the same way a seasoned adult might.  This is all part of their learning game. Placing them back at the nest ledge puts them back in familiar territory to give them a second chance.

Durand spent a good part of the day both Tuesday and Wednesday perched on the nest box camera housing.  She was also picking at gravel and prey remains in the nest box, scraping in the gravel and spreading out in the sun at the front of the nest box.  I would interpret these behaviors as the young are doing well whereas the adults do not have to watch over them as much as immediately after fledge.  Just like the nestlings transitioned to fledglings, now the adults are transitioning from constant care mode back to doing their own thing--pretty much maintaining their territory and general survival.

We have not seen any of the juveniles return to the ledge but that is not unusual or anything to be concerned about.  I can recall most years of having the cams of never seeing any juveniles return to the ledge but in the last couple of years it did happen with some frequency.  Again, it just depends on the individual birds. If viewers do see a falcon on the ledge, look closely at the plumage to determine if it is an adult or juvenile. As stated, Durand has been there often the last couple of days and I even received a couple of reports from concerned viewers assuming it was one of the young that couldn't find anything to eat so it was picking around in the gravel.  Nope!  This was Durand as explained above.  Here is a photo to help show how to tell an adult from a juvenile:
Plumage Differences Between Adult & Juvenile Peregrine Falcon

We can still expect the adults and juveniles to interact for the next several weeks as the young work to perfect their flying and hunting skills.  But by the end of summer they will leave the area to hopefully survive and establish a nesting territory of their own, elsewhere.  Durand and Spark generally stay in their downtown territory all year long.