Three big mouths

It was a soggy expedition to the Data Centre this evening, and I also got a bug up my nose for my trouble. But it was worth it because I was able to confirm that there are still three chicks on the ledge. A few previous visits by Chris, Marie and me since Friday revealed zero to two chicks, so we were a little concerned.

I arrived a dinnertime, just as one of the adults — I think it was Ivanhoe — flew in with what looked like a pigeon. The young ones eagerly gathered around Dad, squawking. He fed each of them in turn, repeatedly plucking bits of flesh from the pigeon and delivering them to gaping maws. Two of the chicks were more aggressive and crowded out the third, but they all looked fat and healthy.

June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

 

Getting closer … to the edge and to flying

A late afternoon visit to the Data Centre brought the best views yet of the chicks — two of them, anyway.

At first I saw only Rowena on the nest ledge, and Ivanhoe at his favourite perch on the far left. No chicks.

Eventually, though, one appeared next to Rowena, and another next to the blob. Both are showing lots of feathers and less down, and one was venturing closer to the edge of the ledge. I hope the third chick was napping and too far back on the ledge to see.

Rowena and chick, June 16, 2014

Rowena and chick, June 16, 2014

A chick does its best to mimic the brown blob, June 16, 2014

A chick does its best to mimic the brown blob, June 16, 2014

Peekaboo! June 16, 2014

Peekaboo! June 16, 2014

Juvenile plumage starting to show through

I got a chance to check on the chicks on Friday after that exhilarating Netherlands-Spain match (the Dutch soundly trounced the Spanish, in case you weren’t paying attention). As usual, photo quality is bleh thanks to distance and windy conditions, but adrenaline may have made me shaky too. Hey, it was an exciting game for my peeps.

The chicks’ faces are now mostly free of down, and their brown-and-buff juvenile plumage is emerging, including obvious flight feathers. In the photo below, they appear to be around 28 days old. So we’re on track to start the Falcon Watch on Saturday, June 21, when they will be around 36 days old. I will probably spend some time at the site on Thursday and Friday as well, in case anyone decides to launch early.

Please do feel free book and shift (or two or three) or to drop by at any time. The chicks are now much easier to spot than a couple of weeks ago.

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Data Centre chicks, June 13, 2014.

How old are we?

Back to the Data Centre today for another look. Ivanhoe was perched on the nest ledge, watching over his little family, while Rowena soared overhead, tracing in big circles in the sky.

The chicks were visible and active, and at least two were stretching their wings, affording decent views of their feather development. In the first photo, the underside of the wing reveals flight feathers emerging from their shafts. This is consistent with day 22, at least according to the Peregrine Falcon age guide I have in my hands.

The second photo is a puzzler — it’s either a younger chick with no wing feathers yet visible, or I’m looking at it all wrong. The chicks’ faces in the last photo are about right for 20-22 days, but I welcome other, more expert, opinions on their age.

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Triple threat!

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Three chicks at the Data Centre, 5 June 2014.

I finally made it back to the Data Centre this evening for another look at the two chicks in fading daylight.

At first, nothing to see except for Ivanhoe and Rowena, who appeared to have switched spots — that is, Rowena had commandeered Ivanhoe’s favourite perch on the top left ledge, and he was one ledge to the right. It was nap time, and both appeared to be doing their best to ignore the nest ledge.

I watched and I waited, and I waited and I watched, but saw no movement besides a dark feather stuck to the front of the nest ledge, fluttering in the wind.

FInally, a flash of white fluff appeared next to the notorious brown lump in the centre of the ledge! Then a head, briefly, and then another head. I snapped some photos through my scope, hoping to get an image sharp enough that I could finally age the chicks with some accuracy.

Then, suddenly, three heads in a fuzzy little huddle! (Right after leaving the site, I was thrilled to see Dominique Marshall crossing the street — someone with whom to share the exciting news!)

Based on the photo below, and the lack of obvious feather development, I estimate the chicks (or on of them, anyway) to be around 20 or 21 days old — but I welcome other opinions. If I’m right, and they hatched around the May 16, the Falcon will need to start around June 21.

Stay tuned!

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Data Centre, 5 June 2014.