Both Max and Zander Hover High Over the Nest Box! But Still no Fledging Yet

Zander (like Max before him) executes a perfect hover flight over the perch
Zander (like Max before him) executes a perfect hover flight over the perch

The Falcons were a bit more lively overnight, probably because of the warm temperatures. We didn’t notice any feedings in the early morning hours, but the nestlings began going out onto the verandas at 4:30 AM. At 5:15, Astrid was feeding Spirit and two of the boys in the box. We don’t know if it was fresh food or yesterday night’s leftover pigeon. The juveniles were very active for the next couple of hours – zipping from the veranda to the nest box and to the perches. The first half of the morning also featured lots of wing flapping and plenty of short distance hop flights. Astrid and Ares kept a very close watch on the nest box through the morning. We thought that they, like us, were anticipating at least one nestling to fledge today.

Luna, Spirit, Zander and Max (left to right) - And yes, Spirit does seem to be placing  her wing around her brother's shoulder
Luna, Spirit, Zander and Max (left to right) – And yes, Spirit does seem to be placing her wing around her brother’s shoulder
Everbody's watching a pigeon fly over the building
Everbody’s watching a pigeon fly over the building
A tremendous amount of wing work was going on today
A tremendous amount of wing work was going on today

At 9:40, Ares brought in a cuckoo to the east veranda. Astrid met him there but instead of letting her take it or giving it to the nestlings, Ares flew away with it. He likely stored it in his pantry on the State Building. We probably have not seen the last of that cuckoo. At 10:40, Astrid flew up to the window ledge located just east of the east veranda. There she tucked herself in and (to all of our surprise), she remained in that place for an hour. That was unusual behavior for her.  At 1:30 PM, while Max was out on the perch, he caught a gust of wind which caused him to hover at least four feet above the perch! He came down on a veranda. This was the closest thing we have seen to a flight from any of the nestlings. With this stunt, Max exhibited a great amount of control. Apparently, encouraged by his success, he did the same thing two more times before taking an afternoon siesta with his siblings. Max’s stunt, which was later repeated by Zander, represented the first known time that any of the Utica nestlings have done this before fledging.

Ares brought a cuckoo to the box, but then took it away again
Ares brought a cuckoo to the box, but then took it away again
Ares does a demonstration flight in front of the nest site
Ares does a demonstration flight in front of the nest site
Astrid perched on a pillar above the nest box
Astrid perched on a pillar above the nest box

At around 5:00 PM, Astrid brought a pigeon to the box, but then flew away with it. Ten minutes later she returned and brought it into the nest box. In the interim, Ares flew back and forth in front of the nest site a few times. This seemed to be an attempt to coax the youngsters to fly, but they were content to just watch. By 7:00, the nestlings had been active for quite a while – doing the usual shtick. At one point Zander performed the hover flight maneuver that I previously described. By 8:30 PM, a storm was threatening the region and the Downtown area. Astrid was on a windowsill on the State Building and Ares was on the church steeple. All four juveniles were still hanging out on the west veranda and just beyond it on a window sill.  That’s where they seemed to be resolved to remain for the storm. By 9:30, one of them had returned to the box, but the others were out of view of the cams. Hopefully they will remain hunkered down. Fledge Watch continues this week. Please come down and help if you are able.

1 thought on “Both Max and Zander Hover High Over the Nest Box! But Still no Fledging Yet”

  1. I look forward to your nightly synopsis of the day’s events. Thank you so much Matt for the time you spend!

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