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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.”
May 23, 2018
Hello all! I just looked at the chick a few minutes ago; that would be 23 May at 8:10 pm central time. She’s looking great. You can really see her first set of feathers coming in through the down. She was laying in the center of the box, but her head was up, probably looking for mom or dad that might be flying in with a before dark snack.
Today the chick is 30 days old. There’s a chance it will start to hop from the box and walk along the many I-beams that are around the nest box. To refresh memories of seasons past, we have seen many of the chicks leave the box when they are 30 plus days old to walk on the beams, but come racing back when they see mom come in with prey. With no other chicks to stimulate beam walking behavior, there’s just as much chance chick could stay in the box until it thinks about its first flight.
On average the chicks fledge, or take their first flight, in the mid 40 day-old range. The first flight almost always takes the chick to the ground. They are like human babies taking their first steps; clumsy is the word. There’s been many a Portage de Sioux Energy Center chick that’s been retrieved by the many workers and taken back close to the box. We will give the chicks that advantage, since being on the ground makes them vulnerable to many other predators. The chicks gain their flight skills quickly, learning how to allow their wings to provide them with lift, and just as importantly, be able to position their wings to take lift away when necessary. Back when Peregrine Falcons were still on the federal endangered species list and WBS hacked, or released to the wild chicks that were raised in captivity, I got to watch the chicks for hundreds of hours and saw first hand clumsy turn to lightning fast maneuverability, all within 2 weeks of fledging.
Last season each of the 5 chicks stayed in the nest well into the 40 day-old period, so we got to watch an extra amount of time. Only time will tell if this year’s single chick will hang around the box and give us the privilege of watching it continue to grow.
There were no questions over the week, but I appreciate the compliments many of you have given us. It was a total team effort to get the remaining chick away from its precarious perch, cared for then back into the box.
Talk to you next week!
Jeff Meshach, Deputy Director