The falcon nestlings were lively off and on during the night. Still, all of them remained inside the nest box. I didn’t notice any parent visiting between midnight and 4 AM.
At 5:00 AM sharp, it was as if the birds’ alarm clock went off. All of them became very animated at the same time. They began screeching and stretching. Almost immediately they started piling out of the box and onto the verandas. Ares brought a small meal to the box at 5:33. Astrid converged with him at the box and grabbed the food, but immediately lost it to Spirit. Two of the boys jumped into the box after Spirit. The following scene took on the character of a feeding frenzy
After 7:00 AM, Astrid was seen making several hunting forays. She continues to hunt mainly in the canyon. This way she can keep an eye on the nest. Also, her prey is almost exclusively pigeons, and for those she need not travel far; not like Ares does to secure his cuckoos, which are found only on the outer fringe of this pair’s extended territory. Ares continues to take longer hunting trips and is typically gone for stretches of two hours or more.
It’s always interesting to see which intruders warrant attention by the falcons. At about 9:00, an Osprey flying directly over the canyon didn’t elicit even one warning call. A Turkey Vulture that followed a similar course about a half hour later garnered a cackle alarm call from one of the juvenile falcons, but that was it. Astrid saw it too, but made no sound. At 10:55, a Turkey Vulture that was one of a pair, flew relatively low just north of the ADK Bank building. This time Astrid took off like a bullet from her perch on the State Building. Ares launched after her and soon took the lead as they approached the Vulture. They were truly like guided missiles. Ares struck the intruder at least twice and forced it to lose altitude. Afterwards, A&A returned to their perches in full view of the nest box. Just prior to the Turkey Vulture chase, Ares had come back after being gone for about a few hours. He had prey with him, although from the ground we couldn’t make out exactly what it was. Hopefully it wasn’t another cuckoo! He brought the food up to the window ledge located just west of the west veranda. There Astrid met him, took the food and started feeding. In a few minutes the food was grabbed away by one of the youngsters. That is par for the course these days.
At one point during the morning, we could only see three of the youngsters up on the bank building. One was on the west veranda and two seemed to be sitting low between two windows, on a narrow ledge, and pressed up against the brick wall. Where was the fourth juvenile? Did we somehow miss one fledge? I walked up past the County building and next to the State Office building where I could see more level with the 15th floor of the ADK Bank. From that perspective I could four. There were three together on the same ledge – all laying down and pressed right against each other. It’s amazing how flat these birds can make themselves when they want to.
In the afternoon a Bald Eagle flew over the canyon. It flew high and was not bothered by the Peregrines. Another Turkey Vulture, this one also flying high, was briefly hazed by Astrid. It’s getting to the point where we’re beginning to think that maybe there are one or two individual vultures that she just doesn’t like for some reason.
Late in the morning, Max journey west of the west veranda and passed a second pillar. This is the furthest any of the youngsters have pushed out so far this season. Meanwhile all of the others have been doing their wing exercises. And, importantly, Zander and the other two males have been perfecting their hop-jumps between perches. At noon, Ares took some unidentifiable hunk of food over to the east veranda. After Astrid arrived and took it, Ares did a cowabunga-type dive out of the box. At 6:30, Astrid brought most of a pigeon to the nest box. She had been trying to get one off and on throughout the day, so evidently she met with some success. She dropped of the food with the young and, predicably, a feeding frenzy ensued. All of the juveniles got a piece of the meal. Follwing the big meal, Astrid did some demonstration flights. At 8:30, Astrid had again been gone for some time. She was finally spotted on the hotel ledge, plucking and eating another pigeon. Apparently it was a two pigeon day for Astrid. She brought it to the box and the chicks took it from there. Following their meal, Astrid got upset and began giving warning calls. We didn’t see anything that could disturb her, but periodically, she would sound off. The nestlings, for their part, climbed and hopped into the nest box. As of 9:00 PM, it looked like all juveniles were in the nest box and all were accounted for. This evening will probably be subdued, but we shall see.