All four nestlings stayed in the nest box throughout the night. Food was dropped off no less than three times in the early morning hours. Two of the birds dropped off were cuckoos! Astrid came in with food at 5:09 AM. At that time Zander and Max had gone off onto verandas, but Luna and Spirit were there, willing and able to be fed. Soon Luna was also on a veranda. Throughout the morning three of the male nestlings traveled back and forth between verandas and the nest box. Max managed to navigate around the window pillar just east of the east veranda and there he found a nice new spot on a windowsill. Astrid had been showing the kids this spot for a few days now, but Max was the first to make it there. He found that getting back was more complicated and it took him multiple tries to return to the east veranda. Zander also did an impressive stunt; he went way out on the nest box’s extended perch. There he did some flapping and even some causal preening. He ultimately “hop-flew” back to the lip of the nest box. Well done Zander! It was quite windy in the canyon this morning and Astrid and Ares were doing some marvelous flying, some of which appeared to be demonstration flights intended to encourage the nestlings to fledge. Both parents also went out on hunting forays. Astrid made at least two unsuccessful plays for pigeons in the canyon.
At about 9:30, Astrid did some slow passes in front of the nest box. She flew back-and-forth almost as if she was hazing the nest, but this also seemed to be a demonstration flight. She hovered, and then flew across the canyon before doing a slow-motion landing on the State Building. At one point Astrid flew very purposefully towards the north. Ares was right behind her (even though we didn’t see him leave). Both began giving alarm calls and were seen swooping at something in the distance. We finally glimpsed an intruder and identified it as a Peregrine-sized raptor. Unfortunately, all three disappeared behind buildings before we could get a positive ID on the stranger. A little while later both parents were up again, this time they were chasing a kestrel – probably the same adult male that was in the canyon yesterday. The audatious little raptor landed on the roof of the ADK Bank Building before disappearing to the north. Interestingly, an Osprey that flew high over the canyon at around 8:30 barely got any attention for the pair, although one of the nestlings gave an alarm call.
At 12:10 PM, Spirit got up on the lip of the nest box. Once there she suddenly got very curious about the activities taking place on the east veranda. Five minutes later she was on deck along with Zander. This was the first time visiting a veranda for her. It also marked the first time since these chicks hatched that there were no Peregrines in the nest box proper. Through the afternoon the young falcons did some wing flapping and some more exploring. Spirit remained on the east veranda, while Max explored the windowsill west of the west veranda. By 4 PM, rain was beginning to fall. At that time, three of the youngsters were on the west veranda and Spirit remained on the east veranda. Luna decided to go back into the box and pick at some leftovers. The others remained out in the weather. At 4:30 Astrid came to the box with a cuckoo. Zander was out on the long perch and max was on the near perch. Both got highly exciting, but managed to hang onto their respective perches when Astrid lunged in. Again, no one showed any interest in the cuckoo. Shortly after that all the youngsters spent about a half hour giving their harsh begging calls – apparently asking for something other than cuckoo for dinner. At 5:20, Ares brought in something and handed it to Spirit on the east veranda. After she had a share, Zander and Luna played tug-of-war with it and presumably ate some as well.
The parents made many visits to the box today – partly because of the fantastic flying weather that prevailed though most of the day, but also to encourage the young to exercise and possibly to fledge. In the early evening, Astrid finally got a pigeon. She brought it to the State Building, plucked it and then took it to the box. There she left it for the three males to pick at. Spirit wasn’t ready to come back to the box at that point. After 7:30, Astrid became quite upset, and we weren’t sure why. She repeatedly gave chatter-type alarm calls and occasionally made quick flights to the northwest and then back. Ares was perched on the State Building at the time, and he didn’t seem to be overly concerned about anything. Still, Astrid remained in an irritated state for about an hour – off and on. It may have been her way of communicating to the young that they shouldn’t try to leave the nest quite yet. When we left the canyon at 8:45, rain had started, Astrid and Ares were on the State Building, Spirit and Zander were on the east veranda and Max and Luna were in the box. Will we have our first fledge tomorrow? Every day it becomes more likely. Come help us with our Friday fledge watch if you can.