Sunday’s children
Sunday April 11th 2010, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

And today we have three new babies.  Happy Spring!  If you go here, at 1:56 you see a tiny white snowball with black eyes and tiny beak, dot dot dot like a child’s drawing, looking wide-eyed and up and seeing its daddy perhaps for the first time in its new life.  Blink.  EC, aka Esteban Colbert, takes off on a grocery store run for pigeon-flavored formula.  The mom, Clara, is still at the nestbox as another chick breaks out the top, and a few seconds later Clara has her head lowered talking to a third, looking satisfied as its egg splits at last and a tiny head suddenly dots its eyes too.

One more egg to go.

When I was growing up, most big birds were nearly gone from the entire planet, their eggs thinned by DDT and breaking at incubation.  I remember my parents’ great joy at seeing, as we drove through the Sierras when I was ten, a bald eagle in a tall pine, free and alive in the wild! The chances of a sighting were so slim then, and their thrilled reaction and teaching us about them made it so that I would never forget their awe.  Nor the eagle.

Now my children and future grandchildren get to see them and other raptors after all, due to the great dedication of the few who were convinced they could make a difference.

Glenn Stewart describes being denied funding on the grounds that the peregrines were already lost.  He and a few peers at UCSC watched eyries with binoculars anyway for hours and days, waiting for hard incubation to commence, the point at which the peregrine parents decide, okay, all the eggs are laid, it’s time now to start seriously sitting.

Then he would rappel down the cliff, replace the eggs with wooden dummies, hatch them in a lab while trying to simulate a parent’s presence, rappel again, and return them to their nest.

Which is why this magnificent bird went from two nesting pairs in all of California and total extinction on the East Coast to an estimated 20-25,000 nesting pairs in California. They are back. I can only imagine the intensity of the satisfaction he and his peers must find in that.

Peregrines mate for life and are so focused on having a territory and a mate of their own that if the male in a breeding pair should die while there are chicks in a nest, another male will move in and adopt them and care for them, defending them from intruders, feeding them and teaching them to fly and hunt as if they were his own, and he will stay with their mother for the rest of his days.

God is a poet, teaching us by all that life offers around us. I’m so glad these are still written in His notebook.

13 Comments so far
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Some men, too. I’ve got my wings crossed on this one.

Comment by Lynn 04.12.10 @ 3:07 am

How exciting, Alison! I remember well last year’s adventure.

Comment by Joansie 04.12.10 @ 5:01 am

I love the way the parents talk to each other in preparation for the hand off (wing off?).

Comment by twinsetellen 04.12.10 @ 5:41 am

Interestingly enough, I had on ABC Family last night, and they were showing the Eddie Murphy Doctor Doolittle movies. One fact I heard was that 72 species go on the endangered list daily. That sounds ridiculously high, but…

Comment by Channon 04.12.10 @ 5:44 am

thanks for sharing that link — how amazing!

Comment by Bev 04.12.10 @ 7:43 am

“Peregrines mate for life”. Seems like some humans could learn from that lesson. That is a remarkable recovery from near extinction!

Humor –

Wrinkled Was NOT One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew up!

Procrastinate Now!

Comment by Don Meyer 04.12.10 @ 9:42 am

All men should be so dependable and conscientious.

Comment by Karen L 04.12.10 @ 10:18 am

I get a lump in my throat every year when I see the first osprey. So huge, so stately, such amazing dive-artists!

Comment by GeekKnitter 04.12.10 @ 10:25 am

I remember those days. The Canada Goose used t be endangered and now most people consider it a nuisance. I love seeing them fly.
My grandfather helped repopulate Michigan with quail and turkey in his day, too.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 04.12.10 @ 2:36 pm

I add my cheer to others for that group of devoted people!

May the poetry continue and evolve.

Comment by Suzanne in Montreal 04.12.10 @ 2:37 pm

Rowing club had to re-locate – difficult isn’t the word to describe it BUT in the midst of sorting out the new set-up on Saturday, someone looked up. Owl’s nest with 3 (!!) owlets. On Sunday (further sortage + first row of the season) Mama off the nest and teenagers complaining about the lack of food and the lack of clean laundry. Blessings be.

Comment by Joan 04.12.10 @ 9:13 pm

I’m glad someone was dedicated enough to make a difference. We get to see a lot of large birds here.

Comment by Marlene 04.14.10 @ 7:22 am

Just read this article on the importance of failure in research–it points out how hard it is to get funding for research that doesn’t promise instant success (and how much pressure there is on researchers today to show “positive” results):

Thank goodness Glenn Stewart and his colleagues weren’t put off by the possibility of hopelessness!

Comment by Virginia 04.14.10 @ 9:24 pm

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