About Ares and Astrid

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The male falcon’s name is Ares. His chest is very white and shows almost no black flecks.
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The female is Astrid. She can be easily distinguished from Ares by the black spots on her chest.

Astrid and Ares were first seen together in the Downtown Utica area in the Summer of 2012. They are unbanded falcons so their prior history is most likely unknowable. It’s possible that one or both fledged from the over 70 known Peregrine Falcon nest sites in New York State, but that’s not something we are likely to ever know for sure. All we do know is that both of these birds were in adult plumage when they were first observed in 2012. It’s likely that each are now from 4 to 6 years old.

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Had this pair ever nested at a site outside of Utica? We don’t know for sure, but probably not. If they did it was unlikely to be anywhere near Utica. The city’s Downtown area is quite probably the only viable breeding territory in the greater Utica area. The closest known territories in Central New York are in Binghampton, Syracuse and Oswego. In fact most if not all of the best territories around the State already have resident pairs which vigorously defend them. In these territories, interlopers have little chance of breeding until settled pairs die or move on. All we know for sure is that Astrid and Ares didn’t nest last year, or if they did they were not successful. We know this much because they remained in the vicinity of Downtown Utica throughout the 2013 breeding season and were never seen with young during that time.

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While lying forward the falcon pushes their talons out behind them to scratch out a depression in the gravel. This is the “nest scrape” where the eggs will be laid

The local falcon watchers initially had some trouble telling the male and female apart with this pair. Usually female Peregrines are noticeably larger than males. This was certainly the case with their predecessors, Maya and Tor. That pair was unconventional in many ways, but in terms of size, Maya was could always be distinguished from Tor – even from a great distance. Though there is a subtle size difference between them, the safest way to tell Astrid and Ares apart is by their plumage details.

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Ares shades the eggs on a hot afternoon

In late March, 2014, it was taken as sure sign of breeding intentions when both Astrid and Ares began making nest scrapes in the gravel lining the bottom of the nest box. By that point the pair had already been seen engaging in courtship flight displays around the nearby State Office Building. On April 10th, Astrid laid the first egg onto the nest scrape and by April 17th, a full clutch of 4 eggs had been laid. Incubation began in earnest between the laying of the 2nd and 3rd eggs. If everything proceeds as expected, the eggs should begin hatching between 14th-17th of May.

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It’s always best to count the eggs before you take over incubation duties from your spouse

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