May 30 2009

What’s Next?

Published by at 7:59 am under Nesting & Courtship,Peregrines

Peregrine chicks at Univ of Pittsburgh nest (photo from National Aviary webcam)When peregrine nestlings are 33 days old what happens next? 

The things you see on the webcam might be confusing so here's what to watch for as they get ready to fledge:

  • They're still babies and they still do "baby" things.  Sometimes they sleep flat on their stomachs and throw their legs out to cool themselves.  They look like pancakes.  The adults don't do this.
  • Their parents are teaching them to feed themselves and will increasingly drop off food and let them tear it apart on their own.  The female chicks are 1/3 larger than their father by now so they dwarf him at feeding time.  No wonder he's thinking of drop-offs!
  • They flap their wings a lot without going anywhere.  This builds their wing muscles so they'll be in good condition when they fly. 
  • Sometimes they flap and run along the surface, just barely rising in the air.  It's like using training wheels.
  • They will WALK out of the picture.  They haven't flown yet, they're just exploring.  This is called "ledge walking."  There's a lot of territory near the nest and they need to learn about it.  When they're ledge walking you won't see them on camera but they are quite nearby. 
  • They will perch right in front of - or on - the camera.  Incredibly cute.
  • At the University of Pittsburgh there's a perch on the building called "the keyhole" that their parents like to use.  It's just to the left of the camera view.  Soon the youngsters will figure out how to jump the short distance from the green perch to the keyhole.  On the webcam it will look as if they leapt into thin air but from Schenley Plaza you'll see that they're in the keyhole.
  • They will walk up the cement pillar at the back of the camera view or hop into the gully behind it.  When they do that they disappear from the cam but they still haven't flown. 
  • Soon they will find the perfect runway for flight practice which is up to the left of the camera view.  They will walk up the cement pillar or jump up to what we call "the nest rail."  You won't see them on camera but they'll be easy to see from Schenley Plaza. 

Again, they haven't flown yet.  This is "flying with the training wheels on."

(photo from the National Aviary webcam at the University of Pittsburgh)

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “What’s Next?”

  1. faith Cornellon 30 May 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Once they fledge do they return to the nest for sleep. Do the parents continue to hunt for them awhile?? Thanks for all the information you have provided. I tell so many people about this site & how such a great teacher you are. It is wonder at 72 to be learning so much I absolutely had no knowledge of. I have always known about these nests but never thought of just how much was behind it.
    My grosbeak had knocked himself out unconscious on our patio door & I took my towel out , wrapped him up, checked for broken wings & toes & laid him down, talked to him, took a picture him & its on my cell phone. He flew away. Now when he comes for feed & I see him I can talk to him thru door & he does not go away. How’s that for gratitude. I feel blessed when he still comes & does not seemed scared by me but maybe that is not good but he does fly away when the pesky doves & blue jays come in.
    Thank you again. Faith c.

  2. Jenniferon 30 May 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I check the webcam as much as I can while I’m working. Yesterday I thought I saw one of the parents drop off food and leave it for the chicks. I wondered if they were learning to eat on their own. Thanks for the update!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 30 May 2009 at 10:19 pm

    >do they return to the nest for sleep?
    Sometimes they do for a few days just after they fledge – but that soon ends. As soon as they are confident about flying they sleep perched on the building as their parents do.

    >Do the parents continue to hunt for them awhile??
    Yes! Since peregrines hunt on the wing they must be good at flying before they can learn to hunt. After they’ve flown for a few days their parents begin to teach them to hunt by flying in with food and then making them do a mid-air food exchange. It is very cool! More on that later.

  4. Kate St. Johnon 01 Jun 2009 at 9:02 am

    Update, Mon June 1: One of the three nestlings walked up the pillar to the “nestrail” (the nestrail is the runway that is out of the camera view). I could see him/her with my binoculars as I walked through CMU this morning.

  5. gloriaon 01 Jun 2009 at 10:23 am

    When the kids start walking the nestrail does that mean they are ready to “take off” or just more daring practice?
    Both kids are off camera at the GT site. This is so exciting. Can’t wait for them to “spread their wings and fly”….How amazing is this!

  6. Kate St. Johnon 01 Jun 2009 at 11:42 am

    It means more practice. It takes them a couple days to take off. If they live in a gusty/windy place this time is dangerous but Pittsburgh hardly has any wind at all. No need to worry.

  7. Tracion 01 Jun 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I just got back from downtown after a vigile at the Gulf. I attracted many people wondering what the woman in the sweatpants doing with binoculars and a combursome old Pentax camera and lens was looking at. I asked a policeman to help me locate the 37th floor. We found the nest box and he had to leave.

    I perched myself atop a retaining wall outside of the Hotel, next to the old train station. I saw either Tasha or Louie fly around the steel building – twice. I saw one of the fledges perched up on the ledge outside of the box and then NOTHING. 🙂

    I sat and sat and stared and stared until my eyeballs ached. The fledgling seemed to disapeer and so did the parents. But it was still exciting and to be that close was amazing in and of itself.

    I hope I see more at the Cathedral! I’m going to try for the lunch period on Wednesday. I may try the Gulf again tomorrow. I was pretty close to the Gulf – but doubt even my long lens will let me see much at the Cathedral, in terms of getting a good photograph. But I’m hoping my cheap binoculars will do the trick!!

    Hope to meet some of you!!

  8. gloriaon 01 Jun 2009 at 6:05 pm

    On my way to the parking garage this evening after work, I noticed that one of the parents (from GT) dropped dinner in the middle of the sidwalk on Oliver Street right across from the Mellon Park. I guess with all the foot traffic in that area they wouldn’t bother to swoop down and pick it up? Or is there another reason that they would drop their prey? Just an oops?

  9. Kate St. Johnon 01 Jun 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve noticed that the peregrines at Pitt never land on the ground to retrieve dropped prey. At Pitt they don’t even go as low as the 4th floor roof. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones at Gulf Tower did the same thing.

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