Rapt attention
Friday March 29th 2013, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Woke up worse, Richard hauled me to the doctor, I got put on antibiotics. One single pill so far. I’m by no means cured but I’m so much better (and yes I will faithfully take every last pill for ten days–I can’t fathom not.) I managed to do my taxes start to finish, with a lie-down as needed. Done!

And saw the Cooper’s hawk swoop in. He missed.

He danced around from point to point on the roof of the shed, searching; it looked like he snatched a bug popping up–that’s a first to me–and strode from there well into a tree to flush out whoever might be hiding, twigs brushing his tall shoulders as he went. Nada. He was antsy and in a hurry and I wondered if he had little ones newly hatched or about to hatch? I couldn’t remember when I’d seen him quite so jumpy like that. And I know the San Jose peregrines are scheduled to hatch in the next day or two, and those parents likewise are restless as they listen to the early peeps from inside their eggs.

He swooped in again a few hours later, scattering the finches to the winds; pursued one that got away, but meantime in the surprise of the ambush one went the other direction–into the elephant ears on the patio rather than the trees. They almost always go for the trees. This one didn’t.

Then it thought better of it and tried to flee again, again in the wrong direction, and bounced off the window. It was close by so there was not enough momentum to do it much harm. But. It made that bird on glass sound.

And the hawk knew it.  He came straight back and hopped through the amaryllis leaves, a pot on the table at a time, one, then two, then three, closer, closer. Then he stood on the rim of the nearest (I was glad it had been watered so it could take the weight without flipping him–a heavy pot, too, he lucked out), looking that finch dead in the eye from a distance of about a hawk’s length. Toast: it’s what’s for dinner.

After endless moments of standing there frozen, the house finch had to at least try, and they suddenly sped out of sight with the hawk gaining on it fast. And I thought, I get the drama without the gore, somehow, yet again.

Meantime, in San Francisco, where their falcon nest was a few days ahead of ours, a new female peregrine fought off the resident one a few weeks ago and ousted her. The male was at incubation stage, so he had no interest in mating with her as she claimed him and his territory. But he had this perfect nesting box in the best spot and she wanted it.

Gradually she started trying to mimic him, sitting on the eggs as if they were so many more rocks in the scrape. Scattered them to get comfy. She kicked one out of the box and paid it no-never-mind. She would sit but whether there were eggs under her or not was incidental; the hormones that flow from the mating just hadn’t happened. Gradually she came to sit more directly on them but not in incubation stance–she couldn’t, really, because another part of that hormonal flow is the falling out of feathers in an area called the brooding patch, which becomes a warming spot with swollen blood vessels for the eggs to nestle under. She did start holding a wing out to the side over them. Doesn’t work that way.

The eggs should have hatched three days ago and there is a near-zero chance of them still coming out, for all the male’s valiant attempts in all this time. She would fly in and he would fly out as if exchanging nest duty, but…

So many questions were raised and answered. Yes, the two might mate after Dan finally gives up on those eggs, but who knew when that would be? Nobody had permission to remove them. If it happened soon, they could start over before it’s too late in the season, but eventually the stench of the failed ones would make them abandon that nest for now.

Or something.

And then today to everybody’s extreme surprise, she laid an egg! Right there with the others!

If they create the usual clutch of four it’s going to be interesting seeing if they try to cover up all seven.

There has never since a hundred years ago been enough peregrines still alive to find out much of what happens after territorial oustings.  With the help of nestcams this is all new for the learning.

6 Comments so far
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An egg! How exciting… right here at Easter with all the egg decor… (I’m soo not a fan… I do want to find old silk ties and try that method, but I digress…)

Comment by Channon 03.30.13 @ 6:31 am

How interesting is that! And even taxes done. Now I have to do mine.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 03.30.13 @ 7:32 am

the gory and the glory! wow, and all I have to offer is the lowly appearance of the first robin of Spring!

glad you got meds and are on the road to recovery

Comment by bev 03.30.13 @ 8:30 am

Good to hear you got your medications, and are feeling better. Nature is so fascinating, and you get to watch it right out your window.

Comment by Don Meyer 03.30.13 @ 10:18 am

I’m late to the party as usual lately….by the time I hear you’re ill, you’re doing better-ish. Take care my friend. I’ll be traveling much of April, so will continue to be behind on the web for a while.

Comment by Ruth 03.30.13 @ 11:06 am

Go Richard. Go antibiotics. Taxes? Too amazing.

Comment by robinm 03.30.13 @ 12:57 pm

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