Peregrine falcon watch
Sunday May 15th 2011, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

We had drama day in falconland. The official nine-day Fledge Watch began yesterday, which I thought was too early; only one juvenile had even made it to the upper ledge yet. Usually they check out the lower ledge for a week or so, practice flapping and lifting off a bit (they did do that), make it finally to the upper, and then spend at least a few days chasing up and down there gleefully, seeing all these new things from this new vantage point, giving us watchers heart attacks, even teasing their parents into going off the edge to see them fly–watching, learning.

Not this year. Only Unita, the female, made it up to the upper ledge, just once, her mother keeping careful watch from the roof. They were starting to lift slightly off the ground the length of the the runway area, still spending a lot of time sitting on the lower ledge, often together.

Today was cold, rainy, and windy.

And one of the eyases, flapping and skittering backwards like a newbie, couldn’t hold onto that wet edge.  Over he slipped.

The area below had been papered with fliers, telling people what was going to be going on, what to look for, whom to contact, and a man in a deli and a cop saw the little one land on the sidewalk and made the calls; Ahote’ was rescued and taken back up to the roof, where, if he’s like previous years’ fledglings, he will eventually flap himself back down to home tomorrow to try again later. (The parents bring them food wherever they land as they need it the first little bit.) Eric’s got some wonderful pictures here.

Unita, a few hours later, the only female of the four, took off running/flapping/rising high and whoosh, over the lower ledge and away. Fledged!

Glenn’s student was on duty and saw her and got to her.

Word didn’t come right away. I wondered what was taking so long.

Apparently, a gust of wind that she didn’t yet know how to maneuver through had played a part in her smacking hard into the Rotunda building. The poor thing was gone instantly. It is glorious but dangerous and hard to be a wild thing.

The third didn’t seem to have deliberately fledged so much as misjudged the hop up in the context of the rain, from what I understand (I missed seeing it). Over the low ledge with him, too, and Hermes is now spending the night on a roof on the San Jose State University campus across the street.

The last little one, probably the one that hatched two days after his siblings all did, all alone now, seemed bewildered. Shadow paced the nestbox.  He ran/fluttered back and forth and up and down and even lifted, after much eyeing of distance and flaptime, on up to the upper ledge, searching, looking, up, around, way way down, over and over. He hopped back in the box and examined this corner then that, staring at each feather drifting down stirred up by the wind. Where did everybody go?!

Clara finally flew in with food for her son, feeding it to him in the nestbox as she’d done when he was a hatchling. He settled down; she stood in sentry mode above him awhile, then took off with the rest of the food, probably to feed someone else.

Shadow was right back out of that box and running, flapping, searching again. Finally, his mother came back again and he settled into the corner against two sides of the box if he couldn’t touch his siblings. A bit of white fluff still peaked out of his feathers in just one spot as the wind picked up on it.

Clara is standing sentry in her usual nightly spot on the upper ledge in close sight of the nestbox, a steadying presence. He sleeps.

6 Comments so far
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Hoping Shadow and Hermes fared well overnight…

Comment by Channon 05.16.11 @ 6:17 am

scary when children take that first flight (which is why we make sure our human children have strong roots!)

Comment by Bev 05.16.11 @ 8:26 am

Oh my… nature’s very own reality TV show. Except much more real… Poor Unita. But I mustn’t have this fluffy-bunny view of nature.

Fingers crossed the other ones will be alright.

Comment by tinebeest 05.16.11 @ 1:18 pm

Those photos are fantastic! And that last one in flight is gorgeous.

Comment by Don Meyer 05.16.11 @ 6:39 pm

Ah. Instantly is a blessing, but it doesn’t really salve the sting that much. Life is simply not to be taken for granted.

Comment by twinsetellen 05.16.11 @ 6:51 pm

Poor Clara. I thought it was bad having a kid with a learner’s permit. At least she is “grounded.”

Comment by LauraN 05.16.11 @ 8:19 pm

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