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)