Peregrine Watch 2018 concluded with 2 chicks hatching and 1 successfully fledging
Have a Question About Peregrine Falcons? Ask Jeff!
Every May and June Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director, bands the Peregrine babies in at least 5 of the 7 known nests in the St. Louis area. Jeff considers his banding efforts to be one of the greatest privileges in the world. “Getting to put my hands on the fastest animal in the world, even for just a few minutes, is an unforgettable experience.”
June 26, 2018
Hello all! Apologies for the lateness of this last of the 2018 Peregrine Cam season’s ASK JEFF. The team was trying to get the exact last day the chick was seen at or near the nest, and we came up with 7 June. During the last few days we saw her she was on top of the box and on the I-beams behind and to the left of the box. Whenever one of her parents came back with prey, they’d fly into the nest and the chick would come scrambling back to get her meal. During these later days the chick would just grab the prey and go someplace else with it. At the very least, she would turn away from the parent and spread her wings and tail out, hiding the prey from the parent. In the bird of prey world, this behavior is called mantling.
There were a couple great questions over the last 3 weeks!
A person watching adult Peregrines nesting in a box on the Throgs Neck Bridge that crosses the Hudson River in New York state saw 3 adults at the box (the box had young chicks in it), and the adults seemed to be getting along! As you might guess, the large majority of Peregrine pairs (and bird pairs) in the world do not tolerate any other adults in their nesting territory, and vigorously attack any Peregrine that comes into their territory. However, there are some cases of one adult male having two breeding females in his territory. The one instance I read about happened near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through chick blood sampling it was proven that the adult male was the father of all the chicks. His two females nested in separate places, though. I personally would find it hard to believe that there were 2 females in the same box, or there were 2 males in the same territory with one female, but this is the thing about nature, folks. It is rare that you can be absolute about anything. If the person who wrote to me about the Throgs Neck trio would like to write again if he/she has gathered new information about these Peregrines, that would be fine with me.
Another person asked if/how we track the chicks. We have never placed any kind of transmitter on any of the 26 chicks that have been produced at Ameren’s Portage de Sioux Energy Center since we placed the nest camera, but with every chick we do place a colored band on one of the legs. These bands have two colored fields, one on top of the other. I’ve placed black over green, black over red and black over blue bands on the chicks over the years. Each colored field has letters and/or numbers within each field. The size of these numbers/letters and the colored fields each number/letter is in make it easy to see, especially with a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. Because of these bands I’ve gotten many band returns over the years, giving me information about chicks I banded, and I’ve given many colored band sightings to my Peregrine banding colleagues. These bands are how we know our male was hacked at a power plant in southern Missouri in 2006 and our female was banded at a cliff nest in Minnesota the same year. These bands may not be as good as a satellite transmitter on a bird, but we still are able to collect lots of information we otherwise wouldn’t know.
With the transmitters, the chicks have to be full grown because the transmitters are placed on the bird’s back using Teflon straps that make a harness. With the optimal banding age being about 20 days old, I could not put a harness on such a young bird because it still would have so much growing to do. To use a satellite transmitter you have to catch the full grown youngsters using falconry trapping methods. Maybe one day we will place a satellite transmitter on one of our young birds.
My, how time flies (pun intended) when you are having fun. The 2018 Peregrine Cam season saw some tragedy and also a miracle. With our living chick falling from the nest box at such a young age, most would have thought it would have perished. Yet, with the hard and timely work of the Falcon Cam team and the World Bird Sanctuary’s rehabilitation staff, we were able to nurse the chick to good health and get it back into the box fast enough where the parents still wanted to care for it. The miracle chick went through the rest of its nest life without issue and left the nest to destinations unknown. We all hope one day someone spots the band and we find our miracle chick has become part of a breeding pair somewhere else in the world. Thanks to all of you that wrote in with questions, to the rest that intently watched our Peregrine Falcons, and I look forward to writing to all of you in 2019!
Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director