Laura's Peregrine nest and banding photos 2006
Downtown Duluth Peregrines!
My best photos this year are of the day the birds were banded, June 16.
Read about the history of this nest site here.
Notes from this year (most recent on top, with links to a larger gallery for the day when there are a lot of photos):
July 9: Up on the roof! Julie and I got photos from the roof: The babies had eaten about 11, so weren't that hungry--they were mainly loafing.
June 30 I spent an hour up on the casino parking lot top level watching the babies today--for the first 45 minutes, the female was gone and then she suddenly returned with what looked to me like a pigeon. She stripped it on the ledge and then flew in to bring it to the babies. They're eating well! I had to leave while they were still eating.
Julie O'Connor got a call tonight from one of the casino employees who'd observed a lot of thrashing and tearing in the nest and thought crows or some other large birds had invaded the nest and were eating one of the babies. Julie called me and we both hightailed it over there, but it was a false alarm. We both suspect that the mother brought in a bird that was still alive to help the babies develop more skills. We were both relieved, and spent time watching the babies and answering a few questions, and then hit Pizza Luce' to split a hot fudge brownie sundae. The final photo of the four babies was taken this evening.
June 16, 2006-- The babies are banded! Read all about it and see bazillions of photos here.
June 15, 2006
Today I took a walk down to see Julie O'Connor on the Lakewalk. We were watching the mother hawk take flight, circle around, land, take flight again and circle again, two or three times before she took off towards the decc. We spotted her and the male chasing an Eagle! They strafed and swooped at him until they chased him off. That Eagle was probably flying with all his might to get away from those jet speed Peregrines! It was very exciting to see.
I had noticed earlier in the day that both the male and female adults were perched near the nest quite a bit. I wonder if it was because this Eagle was nearby. Julie has done a good job of mapping on a sketch exactly where the male perches on the towers and roofs of old Central High school. It's nice to know where he's at when we're all looking around for him. I'm thinking that's why the female tends to gaze off in that direction, must be a favorite place to hunt.
Perhaps if the weather holds I'll spot you on the roof tomorrow!
I can't wait till tomorrow--that's the day the babies get banded! I'll post LOTS of photos.
June 14, 2006
I stopped by Lake Place Park at lunchtime today to catch up with Julie O'Connor (center) and Debbie Watters (right). They're getting over 100 people a day who stop by to look at the Peregrines. I missed a big show--the male flew in with food and the female hopped out of the nest box to get it from him pretty close to where they were watching! At this point, the bigger, tougher female stands watch over the nestlings while the male hunts for the family. Female hawks tend to distrust their mates near the babies, so the transfer of food usually takes place at a short distance from the nest.
June 13, 2006:
I stopped by the casino at about 11:30 this morning, and Kelly brought me to the roof. The mother was sitting and looking about, and doing a bit of preening. We waited over a half hour. The most we saw was two babies at a time. Suddenly the female took off and flew northwest, over to the old tower building where she often sat last year. She was there less than five minutes, and then took off out of sight. Clouds were building and I needed to get back to my parking meter, so that's when I took off. Today's gallery includes a photo of pigeon remains, and one of pigeons in the act of producing new little pigeons to feed our new little falcons.
June 12, 2006:
5:30 - 6:30 pm. I could see 2 of the 4 babies today during the hour in late afternoon when I was watching. The mother was on the nest box almost all the time, preening and just looking about. Once I saw her peering skyward, and when I looked up, the male was circling high above, but he wasn't carrying anything and flew out of sight to the northwest, and then she went back to preening. Most of the time all four babies were hidden, but for a few minutes one came forward, then went back; a while later two (maybe or maybe not including the first one) came forward.
The meter was just an hour one, so I had to leave before I really felt like it. Between my leaving the casino parking garage roof and getting back to Superior Street, the female left. I went back to my car and stuffed the meter, but then went to the sidewalk in front of the casino stayed on the sidewalk there keeping watch until she returned. She didn't go immediately to the nest, but rather flew onto the corner of the building, where I took a few more photos.
It's strange to see the adult female with a band on her leg!
From the casino, Kelly writes:
We are seeing all four babies pretty frequently now. This morning there were two roofers up on one of the smaller roofs, I'm not sure they were aware of the falcons at first but the birds were swooping pretty closely. I saw one of them take a couple of pretty steep fast dives at the roofer's hardhat. I'd swear she was within just mere inches of hitting him. They both stepped back and took a good look at that point! It seems like once the birds got their attention they backed off a bit and now they are perched atop the decorative cornices keeping a watchful eye. Another exciting morning!
June 11: Julie told me that she'd found the legs and tail of a Black-billed Cuckoo last week--wonder where that was caught, and how far afield the birds hunt.
June 10: Duluth News Tribune story about the falcons
June 9: From the casino, Kelly writes:
We're seeing the babies pretty frequently now, they're really craning their necks to see out of the box. Today I saw one little head stacked atop another little head, only for a few moments though, as the baby underneath seemed to get peturbed and pulled his head back. He was trying to get a little nap with his head resting in the corner.
There's a lot of feeding going on too, we've had some folks witness the Falcons catch birds in-flight. Twice now, I've seen mom taking the remains of a bird out of the nest. And too many times I've been watching and had a bird turn his/her back to me and let go of a big white stream of excrement! I'll assume that it's not a personal comment to me!
I've also been in contact with Julie O'Connor with Hawks Ridge. She called me because she'd read on your blog about us watching the birds. She wanted us to have her number in case we saw one of the birds fall from the nest. I was excited to hear that she's doing a program about the falcons at Lake Place Park throughout the summer.
June 1--Bob Anderson and Amy Ries checked on the birds and banded the adult female. Amy's account is at the Raptor Resource blog. From the casino, Kelly's account:
I was not at work yesterday afternoon, and according to several people I missed quite a show. Evidently the birds were far more agressive with the people who were checking the nest then we'd seen in the past. I'd heard that they usually circle around and swoop at the banders, but yesterday according to witnesses, they were downright attacking. It was fun to see, though probably stressful for the birds and people are really concerned about what they were doing to the birds. It really helped to generate interest in the peregrines, as a lot of people who hadn't seen them got a really good look. I've heard lots of amazed comments that people didn't realize how big they are, how strong they are, and how beautiful they are. It's great to see all the excitement they are generating.
May 31, from the casino: "5:51am The falcon was preening self. 12: 15pm Mom on ledge eating a bird. Dad on top of building. Standing guard- mama feeding the babies.
May 29--from the casino: "2:20 pm The falcon was eating something. In the left corner of the nest I saw white feathers popping up.Maybe babies?"
May 24--from the casino: " 9:40 am The falcon was eating a bird and then flew off with it."
History: Dudley Edmondson, a great raptor photographer in Duluth, first noticed the Peregrine Falcons hanging around some of the buildings in downtown Duluth, and contacted the Raptor Resource Project about putting up a nest box for them. (The first male banded in 2006 is named Dudley in honor of him!) Bob Anderson and Robert MacIntyre, raptor experts from RaptorResource.org, put the nest box up in 1992. It stood empty until 2002, but since then has been used by this pair each year. All the babies from this nest have been banded. In early June, 2006, there were four babies, still too small to band, but Rob and Amy Ries and Bob managed to catch the adult female. This pair was possibly unique in the entire state for neither bird bearing a band--their origin is uncertain. But now we'll be able to keep track of her if she turns up anywhere else.
In 2005 when I was walking around downtown Duluth looking at and photographing the birds, I encouraged passersby to stop and look, and was delighted to see that just about everyone took a peek and was eager to learn about these wonderful birds. I wrote a lot of blog entries and posted a few times on the Minnesota birding listserv about how much I wished someone from Duluth Audubon, Hawk Ridge, or Hartley Nature Center would establish a presence downtown this year, because I knew my own time there would be limited this year, after Binoculars.com moved from downtown to Proctor. It's not only a great educational opportunity, since people downtown really do enjoy seeing these magnificent birds, but also would make rescuing any birds that get into trouble much easier. On July 3 last year, one of the babies got grounded twice and needed help to get back to the box. What if the same thing happened and no one knew where to turn for help?
Bruce Pomeroy from Hawk Ridge went out with me to the park to watch the fledglings in July, and he could instantly see how valuable a "Peregrine Ambassador" would be. So Hawk Ridge quickly decided to go ahead and get something going. The wonderful Julie O'Connor has been at her post on the Lake Place Park with a spotting scope to share these splendid birds with anyone who wants a better look. Binoculars.com is providing a spotting scope for viewing the birds.
Photos from the 2005 nesting period are here.
Binoculars.com also set up a spotting scope at the Fond du Luth Casino, in the employees' lunchroom, which just happens to provide the best vantage point for viewing the nest in town. Kelly Boedigheimer at the casino has been providing me with notes about what the birds are up to. Next year we'll get even more intimate looks--the nest box is due to be replaced, and when it is, Binoculars.com is sponsoring a nest cam so everyone will be able to keep track of everything going on in the nest!
Binoculars.com provides a spotting scope for Hawk Ridge's Peregrine Watch and one for the employees of the casino to keep an eye on the birds, and provides100% of the support for my Birderblog so people can see photos as often as possible. Next year they'll provide cameras in the new nest box.
Fond-du-Luth Casino employees keep watch from their lunchroom window and send me reports. They also provide funding for signs for the Hawk Ridge Peregrine Watch. Kelly Boedigheimer has been a WONDERFUL liason! |
The Raptor Resource Project, alerted by Dudley Edmondson, is responsible for the nest box in the first place, and has maintained it, banded the birds, and kept records from the start!!