While giving a presentation at a local high school last week a student asked how I got so interested in the species that was the subject of my talk. 

“I am obsessed,” I blurted out, before explaining that after an interesting wildlife encounter I try to learn all I can about the species. That means spending time observing their behaviour as well as reading useful information. 

As I previously wrote, over the past few weeks I have been out with a pair of peregrine falcons that have made downtown Galt their home. The male has been banded at some point in his life and that was what I was using to distinguish him from his mate. Like most raptors peregrines exhibit reverse sexual dimorphism – the male is smaller than the female.

But, unless I would see them together, or they were close enough that I could see the bands on the male’s legs, I had a difficult time telling them apart. Both have blue-grey wings and a pale breast with little barring.

Up until March 21st I would see them mating on an almost daily basis and I presumed that eventually they would nest. A few days followed where neither I nor local residents saw them. 

Over the Easter weekend I spent a few hours watching them and captured a few images in decent light. For some reason I thought the adult female looked a bit darker than usual.

This peregrine took off in pursuit of the adult male who returned with a bird he’d captured.

On Monday I watched this same female perch for an hour or more looking around for her mate. She fidgeted and I kept thinking she would fly. Finally she came off her perch screeching and flew away. But then I noticed the barring on the breast was much darker than before. Was this the adult female?  

After viewing images of juvenile peregrines I believe this one is offspring from a previous year. Judging by her size – she is larger than the adult male – it is a female.

Juvenile peregrine falcon taking flight

After disappearing for a few minutes she returned to the rooftop. There were several turkey vultures flying overhead which caught her attention and I wondered if their presence intimidated her. Then her screeching became louder and more frantic.

It was apparent she spotted something and off she flew towards some nearby trees where she landed. The noise was deafening as she continued her protest.

I moved to a better vantage point and realized she had landed in one of the trees. There, in an adjacent tree, was the adult male furiously picking apart the prey he had just caught. She screamed at him but he ignored her until she starting flying around the tree. He clutched the remains and took off back to the rooftop while she complained some more.

She remained in the tree very disappointed not to have been fed.

Eventually, she flew back to be near the adult male all the while screaming as he tried to finish his meal in peace.

I have seen juvenile bald eagles hang around with their parents longer than they should. And occasionally I have seen juveniles from past years bug their parents for food while they are trying to care for the current chicks.

With respect to these peregrines, if I am correct in my assumption that this is one of the chicks from a year ago, then perhaps the reason I haven’t seen the adult female is that she is nesting on top of one of their favourite buildings. Wouldn’t that be exciting?

Naturally, I will be looking out for all three of these amazing birds in coming weeks.

                                                                                               -30

 

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