Smooth Changeovers and Little Drama – Fans of Astrid & Ares Visit the Canyon and See the Birds in Person

Utica Peregrine Falcon Update for April 14, 2018 –

Astrid preeds on the steeple perch
Astrid preens on the steeple perch

It was relatively mild this morning. It was overcast and temperatures were in the mid-forties. By noon it had become somewhat chillier and light rain began falling. The afternoon was drier, but the wind picked up and the temperature began to drop. Astrid had taken over incubating at 3:27 Friday afternoon, and since Ares never relieved her in the early evening, she had to stay on the eggs for over thirteen hours straight.  She finally left the box at 4:40 AM on Saturday, and Ares arrived about a minute later to take over on the eggs. Upon leaving, Astrid took a few different perches on the State Building. At one point she flew around the west face of the building; she was likely perusing Ares pantry. We think she selected something since minutes later she was seen perched on the west face of the building, and probably feeding – either that or preening. it’s hard to tell from a distance. Following that, at 6:05, she flew over to the Adirondack Bank building and landed on top of a window pillar west of the nest box. She was there for only a minute and then she was out of camera view. About a half-hour later she was perched on the steeple and enjoying a prolonged preening session. She had a large crop so she must’ve been eaten at some point. At around 8:15, they switched and Astrid was back on the eggs. After leaving the box Ares spend some time on the State Building. It looked like he made a few hunting forays from there.

Switching at the nest box
Switching at the nest box

In the late morning the Utica Peregrine Falcon Project held our first of the season public walk around the downtown canyon. Despite the rather dismal weather, people showed up and received a great introduction to Astrid and Ares’ domain. While we were showing folks around, Ares returned to the box and relieved Astrid. That happened at 10:24, and it was a fast changeover. Astrid flew over to the State Building, but then ended up back on one of the pillars on the bank. All of the people in our second tour got to see her there. At about 11:30, she returned to the box and sat outside on the cross perch, while Ares remained on the eggs. They stayed like this for around fifteen minutes, until finally Astrid went inside the box and ousted her mate. Of course it wasn’t that easy to dislodge him. First they did some beaking and that didn’t work. She then she went behind him and stepped on his tail, and that worked. Credit where credit is due, she did try to ask nicely first! Regardless, he was outed and she took over incubation duty. Thanks to all those who joined us for today’s falcon walks! We have another one scheduled for next Saturday. That one will take place at 6:30 in the evening.

At 12:30, we noticed that Ares was back on the State Building, but soon he went out of view again. Astrid had been peacefully incubating, but then at 1:26, she unceremoniously baled from the box. She called as she was leaving and we thought we heard Ares answer her. He came to the box less than a minute later and took over on the eggs. Following that, we couldn’t locate Astrid until close to two o’clock when she showed up on the steeple. While there she did a great amount of preening. The wind picked up quite a bit towards the end of her stay on that perch. She was being buffeted, but didn’t seem overly disturbed by it. She left at 3:20 and wasn’t relocated until an hour later when she arrived at the nest box. The falcons switched again at 4:53, and then it was Astrid’s turn to mind the eggs. Ares was visible on the State Building for a short time and then he was out of view of our cameras.

Astrid incubating
Astrid incubating
Ares incubating
Ares incubating and snoozing

At 6:17, Astrid let out a few chirps, and that’s often an indication that she sees her mate. Sure enough, she did. Ares flew in from the west, heading towards the State Building. He was heavily laden with prey. He appeared to store the food high on the west face of the building and then he flew around the south side and disappeared from view again.  By 6:30 PM, Astrid was napping in the box. She seemed to be settled for the night, and we believe that Ares was as well. Tonight’s weather forecast calls for freezing rain and generally sloppy winter-like conditions. This latest burst of winter will last well into tomorrow. It’s just as well that the falcons have some food in the bank, since hunting may be difficult for a while.

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