The day began mostly overcast and chilly, with temperatures in the mid-twenties. As the morning progressed the mercury came up by about ten degrees. It made for quite the heat wave. The falcons had a very early start this morning. In fact, they were engaged in a ledge display at the box at 4:30 AM. After Ares departed, Astrid remained in the box for quite a while. She spent some of that time on Ares’ mega-scrape. Seeing her there made us wonder just how soon she’s going to lay the first egg of the season. Most likely, she is still at least one week away, and even that would constitute a record early egg-date for this pair. She left the box at 6:30, and Ares flew at the same time. A half-hour later, the pair seemed to be in full hunting mode. One of them was perched on the roof of the State Building, which is a favorite perch for hunting their quarry. Ares returned at 7:20, and was seen plucking prey on a window ledge located west of the nest. Some of the feathers he cast to the air floated up above the building. He brought the prey to the box about 15 minutes later. Poor guy, he was chirping and screeching for Astrid to come and take it, but she was”falona non grata”. He screeched off into the canyon with it and then returned, but still, Astrid was nowhere to be seen. Finally, he gave up. He probably stored the meal and then flew over to Hotel ledge. From there he resumed hunting or perhaps he was looking for Astrid; we couldn’t tell which. At 9:10, Ares was again on a window ledge near the nest box and he was plucking prey; different prey! Didn’t we just see this show? He screeched over to the box with it and then started calling for Astrid, but she still wasn’t coming. Between squeak calls, Ares nibbled on the meal. It was noticeably smaller the next time he returned with it. And then at 9:30, he came to the box without it. He consoled himself by working on his epic scrape.
At 10 AM, neither falcon had been visible in the canyon for about a half hour or so, and then Ares was suddenly back in the box with a hunk of prey. He was highly excited and the reason for his frenzy flew by the box twice and then landed just west of the west veranda. It was Astrid, and this time she seemed keen to take his gift. After a few minutes she loped across the veranda and met Ares at the corner of nest box. She unceremoniously grabbed the food and disappeared with it. Ares seemed satisfied with his accomplishment, but only for about three minutes; then he was back to chirping and lobbying for her to come back. Fifteen minutes later, he was out on the perch preening; she flew by once more and then came right into the box and plunked down onto his scrape. He was chirping like mad. To Ares this was the best thing in the universe – and now if she could only make some eggs.
By 11 o’clock, she was perched on the State Building and he was right there in the box. It was a grooming/loafing session that lasted nearly an hour and one half. Ares showed up at the box again at 1 PM, and for the next two hours he was in and out quite a bit. At 3:10, he was at the box and very excited. Astrid arrived and took a place on the cross perch. It seemed like she was asking to mate, but he was holding out for a ledge display. She came into the box and the pair shared a long, fairly subdued dance. Immediately afterwards, Ares dove out of the box and Astrid did some scrape work in Ares’ chasm. In a minute, Ares was back with a food offering. It looked to be most of a Mourning Dove, but it was hard to say for sure. She grabbed the food from inside the box and left. Once again, we couldn’t find her feeding place. At close to 4 PM, Ares was back at the box and Astrid was up on the State Building. An hour later, the pair mated on the State Building. Shortly afterwards they both abruptly took off and flew westward. There was a Turkey Vulture flying in that direction, but the falcons weren’t bothering it. We didn’t know where they were. At 6:00, Ares was back with more prey. Astrid didn’t respond to his calls so he went off and presumably stored the meal. Ten minutes later, Astrid was at the box. Ares returned (without the prey) and jumped into the box while Astrid stayed on the cross perch. She was asking to mate and within a few minutes, they did just that. At 7 PM, we thought the show was over for the day and we were closing up our notebooks and rolling up our metaphorically recording cables when suddenly Ares showed up at the box again. He was bowing and calling loudly as if he saw his mate and sure enough, there she was. She perched on the cross perch and they both vocalized for a while. She did seem distracted. Lots of American Crows were passing through the canyon and that may have been the cause. The pair was calling back and forth quite a bit, but neither seemed like they were asking the other to dance or to mate. At 7:16, the pair was up and apparently off to their secret night perches. Good night, falcons!