Friday, June 19, 2015

Peregrine Falcons Nest Chicks June 2015

May 30,  I heard of a Falcon nest close to downtown Abbotsford.  I was told it was in a certain location but couldn't find it.  I told another birder and he went out to see if he could locate it.  He saw an adult enter the nesting site and the puzzle was solved.  The following pictures record the development of the 3 chicks or "eyasses" as they are more correctly called.
June 2-first sighting.  An adult takes away remains of prey.  Initially I thought there was only one chick.
June 2-adult with food scraps.  The birds are high on a cliff making  great photography difficult.
June 3- Finally 3 chicks are visible.
June 3-Between 8 and 9 AM 2 small birds were delivered for lunch.
June 3- they would be about 25-27 days old here.
Some muscles are well developed.  They eject waste with great force to keep the nest site clean.
Picture showing nest site.  All pictures are taken from the road which is about 100 meters away.
June 8-The down is being rapidly displaced by feathers.
June 8-I was there between 9 and 10 am today.  The adults weren't seen but I heard one.  
June 8-  Wing flapping is increasing.  They are building up their flight muscles.
June 10-  What a difference 2 days make.  
June 10- I arrived at 8am and stayed an hour.  One adult was perched nearby and stayed the entire hour.  Here they are chirping to the adult.
June 10-I could only see 2 chicks today.  I have a feeling one has met an untimely end.
June 12- Yea!!  3 Chicks.  I got there at 9 AM and stayed until 11AM.  No chicks were visible for the first 1/2 hour and then an adult called from a tree and I could hear the chicks responding.
June 12-An adult in a nearby tree.  The chicks always have an adult near by to keep an eye out for predators such as eagles
June 12-The adult would take occasional sorties over a river but wouldn't leave the chicks for very long.
June 12-An adult returns with prey and that was when I saw all the chicks emerging from the rocks.  They are starting to spread out away from the nest which is the reason I thought one had disappeared..
June 12-One chick comes rushing in to grab its share of the booty.
June 16-An adult delivered what appeared to be a pigeon.  The chicks ate some and the adult took away the partially eaten bird and finished it off in a tree.
June 16-An adult landed on a cliff and kept calling.  I was expecting this chick to join it-maybe tomorrow.
June 16- I suspect they will take flight in the next few days.
June 16- Two of the chicks keep company while the 3rd remained close by in the nest.
June 17-  I arrived at 7AM.  This adult was chirping and one of the nestlings heeded its call and made the plunge off the cliff.
June 17-Although it was its first flight, it made it to this log about 150 meters away.  This is an un-cropped photo.
June 17-Here is a cropped image of the fledgling.  I returned later in the afternoon to find it had flown to the top of the cliff.
June 17-These 2 stayed by the nest, not wanting to jump .  The adult would fly by with chirps of encouragement but they wouldn't take the leap.  I was there for 3 hours this morning and no food was brought in.  Hunger may be an enticement to fly.
June 18-I arrived at 9AM today to find only one chick left by the nest.  I couldn't find the other 2 for 45 minutes.
June 18-Then an adult came in calling and landed on the cliff face.  It seemed to be encouraging the chicks to fly.
June 18-The adult's encouragement stirred up the hidden chicks and their wing flapping revealed their locations.
June 18-This one revealed itself just below the nest site.  It must have flown down there the day before or very early this morning.
June 18-Upper left-nest site and 1 chick. Lower left another chick.  Upper right-a chick I believe fledged yesterday.  Lower right- an adult watches from the trees.
June 18-the chick below the nest started flapping and while I was fiddling with the camera, it took off.
June 18-it flew beside the cliff and circled once above me.
June 18-and then back to the cliff.
June 18-coming in for a landing.
June 18-it couldn't get a grip here so it took off again.
June 18-it basically flew right into the cliff face.
June 18-at least it had something to cling to here.
June 18-then it was off again.  It circled back and landed above the nest on a flat area.  I was there for 3 hours today and still no food was delivered although both adults made appearances.  I will return tomorrow to check on their progress  
June 19-I could only find one chick today.  It was softly chirping when this adult swooped in with what appears to be a pigeon.
June 19 -It dropped off the prey to the last remaining chick and flew away.  I checked again in the afternoon and the one chick was in the same location but the other 2 were not visible.  It appears they have learned to stay out of sight.  
The above represents about 20 hours of observation and about the best of 2000 pictures.  Many of the latest shots were taken with mirror lock on and 10 second timer because of the distances involved.  Most of the time was spent just waiting for for some action.  A frustrating moment was when I missed the first lift off of one of the chicks because I was taking the camera off the tripod to get ready for a flight shot.  All pictures of the birds were taken at 560mm.  This was a fun assignment and I hope you enjoyed it.

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