In February and March we see peregrines court at the nest on the falconcams but it’s much more exciting to watch these birds in the air.
In the weeks leading up to egg laying the pair engages in courtship flight. It’s a spectacular way to get in tune with each other and show off their flying prowess.
Here’s what you’ll see:
The male peregrine begins by circling high above the cliff. Sometimes he travels in an undulating pattern or a figure eight. His mate will rise up near him and circle high as well. Soon they’ll begin to play in the air and may roll upside down or make a big Z in the sky. Sometimes this playing looks dangerous because one will dive on the other as if he or she were prey — but of course the dive misses. Sometimes the male pretends to carry food and the pair does a mock prey exchange in the sky.
Back and forth, soaring high and diving low, their flight is breath-taking. Not only does this activity cement their pair bond but it advertises to any passing peregrine that their nest cliff belongs to them.
Eventually the pair zooms to the cliff and lands near the nest.
If you’re watching the webcam you’ll see them appear on camera at this point … but you’ve missed the big show!
(photos by Chad+Chris Saladin)