Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where's Winter?

Wow, the weather this February in Columbus has been more like March weather and beyond!  As I write this, the high temperature in the Capitol City tomorrow is predicted to be in the low 70s! I would suspect more seasonal temperatures will return at some point but in the meantime, many species of wildlife have been benefiting from a mild winter.  I have seen and heard several American woodcock performing their courtship displays, killdeer have migrated back into the area, American robins and many other birds are singing and yes, even our Columbus peregrines have started mating.

While mild weather makes life a little easier on wildlife, it is actually the length of day that triggers reproductive behaviors, not temperatures.  As the days get longer, hormones kick in and dictate the actions of the critters, signaling to the birds it is time to sing, attract mates, and build nests.  Even if the weather was more typically winter-like than it has been, the birds would still be singing, the woodcock would be displaying, and the peregrines would be courting--all based on the length of day at this time of year.  
So far it appears 30/Z will be our resident male, but there is still the possibility that Spark will return, however, as each day goes by that possibility lessens.  Regardless of which male ultimately claims the nesting territory we are just hoping for another successful clutch! 
The falcons were observed mating last week, although we shouldn't expect eggs until into March. Here is a nice video of the male working on the 2 scrapes in the nestbox. Tuesday I observed one of the falcons with a killdeer directly in front of the ledge camera but I wasn't quick enough to grab a screen shot. It looked like the falcon was trying to cache its prey under the camera!  Don't forget to check out the life history information and FAQs on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website for more facts on peregrine falcons!
As the days get longer we, too, are preparing for peregrine nesting season.  Behind the scenes we are working on computer updates to hopefully see less down-time with the streaming video this season. There is a lot to see this time of year so stay tuned!