Weather wise, it’s almost as if we keep living the same day over and over. Saturday was overcast with intermittent snow squalls. Winds were brisk and temperatures stayed in the 30’s. Ares showed up on the State Building at 5 AM, and then came to the box ten minutes later. Astrid touched down on the State Building at around that same time. The pair mated there at 5:40. A failed mating attempt occurred only 20 minutes later, after which Ares returned to the nest box. He was soon up again and at 7:00, he was seen plucking prey on a window ledge west of the box. The prey was most likely a starling. He tried to gift the meal to Astrid, but we’re not sure if she took it. At eight o’clock, Ares was in the box; his eyes were shut but he was giving high-pitched chirp calls – obviously he was trying to get Astrid to come over. Deb said he was “sleep chirping”.
By 9:30, Ares was perched on the east face of the State Building where he was mostly sheltered from the wind and snow. Astrid was on the north face of the same building. She was taking the brunt of the elements, but with her head tucked into her shoulder she seemed to be comfortable enough. At 10:30, she flew off to the south and we lost track of her for about 15 minutes. When she came back, she joined Ares on the placid east side of the building. Of course, almost immediately, he flew over to the nest box and began lobbying for a ledge display. These were the positions the falcons were in when an intruder flew in low from the west. It was a Common Raven (rare inside city limits) and he flew within 200 feet of the nest box. That elicited a major cackle-type alarm call from Ares. He plunged out of the box in pursuit and Astrid was right with him. Realizing the predicament he was in, the Raven uttered a harsh “squawk”, picked up speed and altered his course to the south. Both falcons intercepted him at the same time and dove at him from two directions. The raven lost altitude and adjusted course again – this time adopting a westward heading. The falcons stayed on him for a couple of blocks and then they simultaneously broke off their hazing efforts. To our knowledge, this was the only time the Utica falcons tangled with a raven. Directly following the raven incident, the falcons returned to the same positions they were in pre-incursion. Right then, a Sharp-shinned Hawk (AKA Sharpie) flew over the canyon. She was heading south. Interestingly, the raptor got no reaction at all from the falcons. Proximity to the nest site was likely the reason for the dramatically divergent treatments of the intruders. While the raven flew close to the box, the Sharpie came nowhere near it. Also, in the wild, ravens sometimes compete with Peregrines for nest ledges.
Only a minute after the Sharpie’s flythrough, the falcons had an aborted mating attempt. At 12:50, Ares plucked and then began eating prey on a window ledge west of the nest box. After he had a share, he either brought the food to Astrid on the State Building or stored it somewhere. At 2:30 PM, both falcons were perched on the State Building on adjacent window ledges. Fifteen minutes later, Ares was again at the nest with a food tribute. Astrid piled into the box, relieved him of the gift, and was out in four seconds. Another nearly identical, lighting-fast food exchange happened at the box at 4:50. Both exchanges even included the same prey species (starling). Astrid took her meal over to the Hotel ledge. There she fed on it while the strong winds blew snow sideways past her dinner table. Ares took a high perch on the State Building while she fed. Upon finishing she sailed slowly through the canyon from the east and then tacked south on the wind. Navigating on strong winds is what Peregrines are born to do. Ares remained on his perch until 6:10 PM. At that time he flew around the building, took a perch on the roof and then made a dramatic dive – at what we weren’t sure. It was getting dark, and by that point both falcons were both out of view.