Why Peregrines Don’t Fledge In The Rain

Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)
Gulf Tower peregrine nest on a wet morning, 27 May 2017 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

30 May 2017

Why do I cancel Fledge Watch if it’s raining?  Am I just a wimp about getting wet?

No.  It’s because there’s nothing to see.  Young peregrines avoid flying in the rain.

On a peregrine’s first flight he needs some wind — not too much! — and an updraft to hold him up.  He also needs to be in good flight condition with strong muscles and dry feathers.

Wet feathers are heavy and make it hard to fly.  Birds know this instinctively so they wait until they’ve dried off.

Bird rehabbers know this, too.  When a young peregrine is rescued from the street, the rescuer wets him down before putting him out on a high ledge to start over.  Wet feathers prevent the rescued peregrine from leaping out of the rescuers hands.

There is one exception to this first flight rule.  When there’s danger at the nest, peregrine chicks of this age will fly, even in poor conditions, even if they’ve never flown before — but it can end badly in a crash.

What danger could there be at a city nest?  Humans!  We are the peregrines’ #1 enemy.  That’s why it’s important for all of us to stay away from peregrine nests and the windows that look out on them during these last days before first flight.

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)

13 thoughts on “Why Peregrines Don’t Fledge In The Rain

    1. Bethany, I’m sure all three have not flown. They can walk and hop to areas outside the camera view.

    1. Janet, turkey vultures do fly high. We see them pass over Downtown Pittsburgh during Fledge Watch. Peregrines don’t like vultures near their nests sites so the peregrines attack them & drive them away. The turkey vultures do not fight back.

  1. Thanks Kate, I learn something new from you everyday! It looks like Dori is sitting close to the scrape enjoying some quiet time.

  2. Turkey vultures are pretty impressive birds and yes they do fly high. About 10-12 of them roost in an old tree at the end of my daughter’s driveway. Every morning before leaving the roost they spread their wings out to warm and dry them in preparation for the days travels.

  3. Back at the Cathedral, one of the young was on the side ledge flapping it’s wings when the storm hit and it disappeared. I can hear it calling, but it’s been gone almost an hour now.. concerned it may have been blown off..

  4. Thank you Kate, been watching since before the 1st egg cracked. Retired and so addicted and in love with all of them. Named them all.. ;0)

    1. Patricia, at this stage they will often walk off camera. A favorite place to walk is the ledge above the camera were they can practice flapping. From there they can see their parents and will sometimes shout at them. You can hear them shouting but not see them.

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