We were very fortunate this year to be able to watch two peregrine falcons named Clara and Fernando in San Jose, California. As a nature lover who doesn't get much of an opportunity to get out, I became instantly fascinated.
I learned about them through the San Jose Mercury newspaper. I quickly found the link, and I have been watching them ever since. I even sent the link to a few others whom I thought would be interested.
We sent emails back and forth and watched the eggs for approximately 30 days. The eggs hatched on Easter weekend. There were four eggs, but only 3 made it. Evidently, this is not too unusual according to a friend of mine at work who is a biologist. What was interesting was that the fourth "dead" egg stayed around with parents and babies for quite a few days after the 3 healthy ones hatched.
They looked like tiny little fuzzy white balls at first. So dependent on their parents. The parents even had to keep them covered as they couldn't regulate their own body temperature. The parents have been very attentive. If they are not there right next to the babies, they are up on the ledge of the building just a very few feet away.
It is fun to watch the babies huddle together. Lately, however, they have become a little more independent. They have moved from the middle of their nesting area to a corner. As they get bigger, they are more active and move from one corner of the nesting box to another.
It's so much fun to watch the babies eat. One seems a little more aggressive than the others. I have noticed though that all the babies do eventually get fed. They do all appear healthy. One thing for sure, I wouldn't want to be a pigeon in that neighborhood. The falcons feed on pigeons. Last night I was watching, and one of the adult falcons was eating a fresh pigeon. Just lovely.
The cameras that the Santa Crux Predatory Bird Research group has set up, along with the San Jose government, get some great shots. Lately they've had the adult falcons on a perch over- looking San Jose with trees and other interesting sites of the city around them. They've also had some great shots of the babies feeding and sleeping. The eyes of the adult falcon are so awesome. They seem to just exude power and authority with such a regal quality.
Last night I noticed how big the babies are getting and how they were huddling together. It was cold. Where I was working the wind was wicked. The babies may have been feeling cold in their nest on top of the government building. I could only imagine it was cold and windy there as well. They looked like one big blob of white fur. They instantly became alert when the mother or father came with a fresh pigeon to eat. The babies are voracious eaters.
They babies continue to get bigger. They are beginning to be more active all the time. They seem like very young teenagers now. They are about 2/3 the size of the parents.
They still have lots of fluffy white feathers, but the feathers are getting darker around the wings. They are still pretty awkward with their white fuzzy wings but trying them out more and more by spreading them and stretching them. One of them very recently got out of the box and wanted to explore the rest of the rooftop where they have the nest.
Their eyes are definitely looking more adult like. They have such regal, cool looking eyes. Their walk may be awkward, but when they start flying they will own the skies like their parents do now.
(April 23, 2013) Special treat today. When I opened up the link, a biologist was sitting on the rooftop. At first I thought "oh no what's happened. " Then I noticed that biologist had repelled up the side of the building and was preparing to band the babies. It was obvious he was very experienced at this. He had each of them sitting in a row up against the wall. He carefully took each of them and banded their legs. I noticed how long they talons are even for young falcons. They would try and bite the biologist gently. It was almost like these were just warning bites. It didn't appear they really wanted to harm him. Maybe they didn't like the taste of the biologist thumb. I could see the parents flying around in the back ground. It was like they were there as a warning. They didn't try to harm the biologist.
I noticed that the biologist had something hanging from the front of his helmet. It might have been a camera or something.
At the end, the biologist put two of the baby falcons together to get a picture. One of them didn't want to be next to the sibling and immediately moved away. The biologist very calmly placed him back where he needed him for the picture.
The biologist repelled back down the side of the building. Mom and dad are now sitting on the ledge cocking their heads and watching very carefully, guarding against any other intruders that might come. I can't hear any sound, unfortunately, but I can see the mouths of the parents moving. They may be calling out to each other or sending out a warning cry. All is well now. The babies are huddled together in the corner of the box. Everything has settled down again.
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