With a little help from his mom …

Nancy, Frank and Dominique reported that Pringle spent the rest of the afternoon on the lowest level of the annex roof, taking some shorts flights and a couple of very impressive long ones halfway across the long side of the annex roof. His flying was steady and his landings solid, but he eventually grew tired from his attempts to get back up to the higher part of the roof. So he settled down for a long nap. Such was the state of falcon affairs when I arrived at 5, and when Chris and Marie arrived at 5:30. During this whole time, Rowena watched over her chick from the highest part of the annex roof.

Pringle eventually woke up and decided to get going again. And boy, did he ever. First, he executed a bunch of quick, almost playful hops along the top edges of the ledges, testing his landing skills. Then, around 6:30, he rather suddenly took to the sky, heading west toward Bronson (nooooo!) and then looping back toward the northeast end of the annex. Rowena flew into action, chasing after Pringle and intercepting his attempt to land on the north side of the main building. Our jaws dropped as she pretty much herded him back around to the west side and forced him up, up up and up and around to the south side. He landed solidly one ledge over from the nest ledge, while Rowena landed on the nest ledge itself. Langis, who couldn’t have timed his drop-in any better, captured an amazing photo showing the two falcons in mid-flight (and I’ll post it as soon as he emails it to me).

You might think that Pringle would be tired and a little freaked out by this very long and very dramatic flight. His human watchers certainly were. As we all rested, Chris, Marie and I chatted — not about language acquisition or the physiology of the brain, as Chris had hoped, but about birds, urban sprawl and bikes. I’ll admit we were discussing internal gear hubs and not paying complete attention to Pringle when he suddenly swooped down from his perch, overshot the nest ledge and continued around to the east side of the building. No problem, because Rowena again intercepted him and steered him right back, and he landed on the main roof.

Pringle spent some time exploring the southwest corner of the roof while his mother perched first on the southeast security camera, then on the southwest one. The chick continued flapping and clumsily walking along the various edges of the roof, and struck a series of classic falcon poses against the darkening sky. Then it was time to go again. He swooped down from the roof and headed back to the nest ledge, but aimed too high and ended up on the roof again.

As stormy skies approached, we hoped he’d try again for the shelter of the nest ledge, and of course he  obliged a little while later. This time he headed west, and Rowena once again steered him back toward the building. As he gained altitude, she forced him to correct his flight to a lower angle so he wouldn’t land on the roof again. But his aim was still a bit off and he landed on the ledge directly below the nest ledge. Not perfect, but at least he’s sheltered from the thunder, lighting and pouring rain.

Chris says he’s never seen an adult be so attentive and helpful during a chick’s first flights. Several times this evening, we saw Rowena steer him in the right direction, and help him correct his altitude. We almost expected her to just grab him in her talons (gently, of course!) and carry him to the nest ledge. What an awesome mom! And what an awesome chick!

 

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