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!

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