Laziest. Chicks. Evah.

Another day without fledging. Sigh.

Anna and Dominique saw a lot of flapping on the first shift. More of the same on the second with John, Chris and Kevin … and Anna, who has clearly succumbed to an affliction familiar to many Falcon Watchers: Not wanting to go home in the (usually mistaken) belief that a chick will fly as soon as you leave.

As the afternoon and evening progressed, the chicks did indeed come closer and closer to flying, and one of the females screeched for almost an hour after seeing Ivanhoe. Bev and I (and Anna, until we convinced her to leave) witnessed intermittent flight practice by all three chicks, as did Pauline when she dropped by. Unfortunately, the mad flapping always ended in yet another looooooong nap. Clearly, the chicks are equally committed to practising the face-plant position. Lorraine, Chris and I saw the chicks ready for action several times, but we eventually packed up when the little falcon family tucked in for the night, with mom Rowena watching over her chicks from a nearby perch.

The score now is Falcon Watchers 6 (days), Falcons 0 (flights).

At least I got some fun snapshots:

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

Flight practice. June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

A good size comparison between dad Ivanhoe and one of the female chicks. June 26, 2014.

A good size comparison between dad Ivanhoe (left) and one of the female chicks. June 26, 2014.

Still flightless …

This morning, Rémy and Jacqueline, reported a fair amount of activity, including a lot of flapping and a feeding. By the time Rick and I arrived for the next shift, things had quieted down, and they mostly stayed that way until late in the day.

Rowena and Ivanhoe mostly stayed away from the nest ledge, but when they did land there, the chicks seemed mostly — and oddly — indifferent. They took an occasional break from napping to preen or practise a bit of flapping, but it never lasted long, and they were generally less active than I would have expected.

The highlights were the building getting evacuated for a fire drill or perhaps a potential fire, and Eve Ticknor, former Falcon Watch coordinator, dropping in for a short visit.

It may have been the heavy, humid air that made the chicks complacent, because they did liven up after the skies cleared a bit and the humidity lifted early in the evening. James and I watched Ivanhoe make about four very brief landings in quick succession. For the first time in hours, the chicks got very excited, and began flapping and running with gusto for what seemed like a very long time.

After I left, there were a few similar episodes, but they appeared to have settled in for the evening under Chris and Marie’s watch when I dropped by a couple of hours later.

So, still no flights, but they are definitely getting closer.

After the rain

… and before the next downpour.

I watched the chicks off and on today, hoping — for a change — that they wouldn’t decide to fly, and they didn’t. But they did seem close for a while when the rain stopped sometime after 5 p.m., when one female chick, perched on the left side of the ledge, spent several minutes flapping madly. The male chick joined in for a bit, and then the rain started again. The chicks retreated from the edge, and then Rowena arrived with dinner, so I called it quits for the day.

Before the re-deluge, I managed to digiscope a few photos.

June 24, 2014.

This one wisely stayed under the overhang and out of the inevitable next downpour. June 24, 2014.

June 24, 2014.

This one looked a bit miffed when the drizzle put a damper on her flapping practice. June 24, 2014.

The rare Headless Falcon. June 24, 2014.

The rare Headless Falcon. June 24, 2014.

Lazy rainy day

Today’s soggy weather provides an opportunity to catch up with a new Falcon Watch post.

The chicks have not yet flown, although two of them — the male and one female — have been practising with increasing enthusiasm and a conspiratorial air. The third seems less excited about leaving the nest ledge, but she will no doubt follow her siblings when the time comes.

The Falcon Watchers themselves began with a rather cold weekend. Moira, Dominique, Nancy, Heather, Jennifer, Chris and Marie helped me out on Saturday, and Lorraine, Pauline, Nancy, Anna, Jennifer, Chris and Marie came on Sunday.

Yesterday, Lorraine, James, Rick, Hedrick, Chris and Marie pitched in, and we didn’t need long pants or sweaters for a change. Hedrick deserves special props because he offered to fill in for me while I joined my peeps at a nearby pub to watch the Netherlands beat Chile. Hup, Holland, hup! (And please note that volunteering for this Sunday’s afternoon shift will earn you similar gratitude.)

The chicks have been progressing steadily from awkward and down-speckled to agile and sleek. Just a few days ago, they were still gingerly approaching the front of the ledge and clumsily climbing onto its side. Now they perch on the very outer limits, staring down and around and contemplating what it would take to get to the next ledge. Yesterday, one of the chicks napped with its entire tail protruding over the side.

They have mastered hopping onto the raised side of the ledge, and are looking more and more graceful as they stretch and flap their wings. Yesterday, the male and one female appeared eager to get going, especially when Ivanhoe and Rowena cruised by, demonstrating what their wings could do. But encouraging the chicks to fledge takes more than a few fly-bys, and the adults have also been cutting back on feedings and are now spending much of their times out of the chicks’ sight. Tough love.

Today, I arrived towards the end of the first shift to find Lorraine and Anna soaked to the bone, but the chicks nonetheless flapping. I was raining so hard by then that I sat in the car and kept an eye on the ledge for a while, before deciding the chicks were highly unlikely to fledge in this weather. There’s still some intermittent flapping and moving about, but they are staying back and out of the rain as much as possible, and so will I.

I’ll check again later today when (if?) the downpour eases up. In the meantime, enjoy the latest photos.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

I like how the shadow of the chick’s hind end looks more like a wing. Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Faceoff. Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Day One

The 2014 Falcon Watch started early this morning, as Moira and I watched the chicks flapping and feeding. Dominique came later in the morning, then Heather and Nancy, which gave me a chance to go home for a few hours. When I got back in the evening, Nancy was still there, and Jennifer, Chris and Marie came out too. (Scroll down to continue reading)

June 21, 2014

Ivanhoe, June 21, 2014

June 21, 2014

Male chick, June 21, 2014

June 21, 2014

The difference in the chicks’ size is clear here, with two female chicks on the right and a smaller male on the left. June 21, 2014

June 21, 2014

Melanistic groundhog, June 21, 2014

We had our best views ever of the chicks, and determined that there are most likely two females and one male, based on size. Because the male is smallest, lightest and most developed — he has the least amount of down left — he will probably be the first one to fly.

But we don’t expect that for at least a couple of days: The feather development and amount of down indicate the chicks are 35-36 days old today, and they usually don’t start flying before 37 days. Also, their parents are feeding them very generously; by our count, they delivered at least two entire pigeons (minus heads) and one smaller bird. The chicks spent most of the day feasting and then napping, with sporadic bursts of wing flapping and preening. The parents will begin withholding food when they want to encourage the chicks to fly. Finally, their flapping is neither frequent enough nor prolonged enough to suggest they’re ready to launch.

Still, we do want to keep as close eye on them. As they spend more time on the outer edge of the ledge, and as they begin practising wing flapping more enthusiastically, they increase the chances of slipping or getting blown off by a gust of wind.

Until they fledge, it’s still enormously entertaining to watch these three little raptors interact with each other and their parents. And for those who remember the melanistic (black) groundhog from last year, there’s now a baby black groundhog!