The changing of the guard
Tuesday March 06th 2012, 12:16 am
Filed under: Wildlife

It’s peregrine falcon season.

City Hall in San Jose has the perfect set-up: a nestbox 18 stories off the ground with fresh-every-year gravel in it to smoosh around to support the eggs, a not-too-big enclosed space for the kids to run around in and explore, ledges to keep them from falling and later to entice them to hop up to to see the whole wide world below but with space and safety for hopping back down again when they’re not quite ready to fledge yet.

And all the pigeons you could ask for below.

Add in our temperate climate to sweeten the deal, and it shows how the peregrine population has come back from their near-extinction that there is now a tussle every year for that perfect piece of real estate. Which Clara claimed when the building was brand new in 2005.

And she’s still there.

A few days ago, another pair showed up and clearly wanted that spot. Clara and EC went into high alert and drove them off. There were three eggs with a fourth expected, and EC was bringing Clara food and keeping a wary watch along with her.

Until he wasn’t. Saturday morning was the last report of his bringing her prey. The intruding pair had not stayed gone.

No sign of him.

And then a fight was seen, talons locked and raptors tumbling in a  potentially-deadly spiral towards the Fourth Street garage today while the watchers standing there held their breath.

It was reported that of the new pair, the female was a yearling: peregrines have such an intense need to find their life’s mate and home that the new male had been willing to wait a year. I believe Clara’s first mate did the same.

EC was gone. The new male, having been accepted now by the fertile Clara as the strongest and fittest at the loss of her mate, fought off in that spiral the female who was a threat to her. Defeated, the young one rose and took a dive at Clara but did not strike.

Clara and the new male have made the territorial display of mating. City Hall is his. He is bringing her prey now. He has looked in the nestbox at the eggs, and she allowed it: they too are his responsibility now, and he will help raise them well.

5 Comments so far
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Oddly enough, this could be the best outcome for EC – his DNA will be guarded by a seemingly more fierce protector. I doubt this is how he sees it, but the species benefits.

Comment by twinsetellen 03.06.12 @ 6:40 am

I really like to see your knowledge of how it all works together. Thank you.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 03.06.12 @ 7:08 am

Nature isn’t always kind. Survival of the fittest…

Comment by Channon 03.06.12 @ 9:34 am

Again, Channon hits the nail on the head — survival of the fittest,indeed.

Comment by Don Meyer 03.06.12 @ 10:27 am

wow — I confess I was not good at science in school (probably because of a deplorable lack of interest!), so I learn so much when you do these posts

love the internet for giving me access to your teaching!

Comment by Bev 03.06.12 @ 10:34 am

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