Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting Ready For the Season!

Excitement is growing among Peregrinecam watchers and those of us at BRI as our resident pair of falcons are making frequent visits to the nesting box each day. During their visits they are displaying typical courting behavior, bowing to each other with heads low and tails held high, and touching beaks. There also has been much nest preparation which entails one of the falcons lying on its breast and pushing gravel, dirt, and small stones out of the way with its legs, creating a bowl-shaped depression, also part of the courting behavior.

The activity in the nest box is only part of the courtship display. Peregrines have elaborate aerial rituals including high circling, diving toward one another as well as aerial “kissing” (touching beaks) and exchanges of food in flight.

Will all this activity lead to laying eggs soon? In the past two years they have done so during the third week of March. So the time is coming. Keep your fingers crossed!

For those of you who are new to the Peregrinecam, Peregrine Falcons have been using this man-made nest site since 2007. They do not build nests. They choose inaccessible areas, high on cliffs or on man made structures, frequently near water. These high, rocky areas are called eyries. The actual nesting area is often called the scrape, referring to the scraping of the gravel to create a nesting bowl.

Peregrines are generally monogamous. The male in this pair has had two mates. A new female appeared last year. This probably indicates that the previous mate died. This pair overwinters in the area, unlike many peregrines that migrate south. The nest is located in southern Maine. The exact location is not share in order to protect the birds. BRI works closely with Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in order to protect and study this pair.

Is there a way to tell the male and female apart? Not easily. Their markings are the same. There are only two features that differ in this pair - the male is banded and the female is heavier and longer than the male. Generally she is 15% to 20% longer and 40% to 50% heavier.

Question from the Peregrinecam community: Any word on the three fledgling from last year? This is one of those cases where it is likely good news that we have no news. There are only two scenarios that could confirm a sighting of the birds - if one was netted during migration or if one was found dead.

Enjoy the falcons,

Kate Rotroff

BRI Webcam Ambassador

1 comment:

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