Jun 26 2013
Late June is an intensely busy time for peregrine parents in North America’s mid latitudes. If their nests were successful they have young about to fledge or already on the wing who must become independent in just four to eight weeks.
If you think that’s fast, consider the life of an arctic peregrine.
Island Girl, pictured above, is an arctic peregrine tagged with a satellite transmitter in southern Chile in 2009 by the Falcon Research Group. They’ve tracked her migrations every year in amazing detail, able to determine latitude, longitude and altitude of her roosts and see the neighborhood where she chooses to sleep via Google Earth.
Island Girl nests on Baffin Island, Canada and spends November to April on the coast of southern Chile. To do this she travels nearly 17,000 miles per year. This spring she left Chile on April 17 and arrived at her eyrie in Canada on June 3, covering 8,868 miles in only 48 days. She got home early.
Now that she’s on her breeding grounds Island Girl has a very compressed schedule. She arrived on June 3 (the day Silver Boy fledged) and absolutely must leave in late September. Winter comes quickly on Baffin Island so Island Girl always leaves between September 20 and 24. Always.
This gives her about 111 days to court, lay eggs, incubate, raise nestlings, and teach fledglings.
Her schedule probably looks like this:
- Courtship and egg laying: 14-18 days, June 3 to June 19. This is the most optimistic schedule, assuming an established mate, an established territory and no intruders.
- Incubation: about 32 days, June 19 to July 22
- Nestling phase: 39 to 45 days, July 22 to September 3
- Fledged young dependent on parents: 4-8 weeks, September 3 to October 1 or October 29.
There’s barely time to fledge young and begin to teach them before she has to leave for Chile. In fact her kids might leave with her and learn to hunt while traveling.
Arctic peregrines are certainly on a tight schedule!