An afternoon workout

I’ve been out of town for most of the past few weeks and have missed a lot of the growing up that these birds have been doing.  I opened up the website today to see one of the chicks doing a bit of a workout, stretching and flapping its wings- a very important activity for a bird that’s going to be flying soon.  Those pectorals are big muscles that need to be ready to do some work!!  Even though I can’t see Mom and Dad on the nest, they’re clearly doing their job bringing food back to the chicks.  There’s quite a bit of variability in just who brings back food to the nest, but in general, males are the ones who supply most of the food in Peregrines.

Olsen, P.;  V. Doyle; and M. Boulet.  1998. Variation in male provisioning in relation to brood size of Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus.  Emu 98:  297-304.

Now here’s where the next few weeks will get interesting.  Once the birds leave the nest (when the chicks fledge), we won’t likely see them there again.  Mom and Dad may return next season for another go-round, but the chicks are likely to take off.  The family will probably stay together for a period of time, but just how long is hard to say.  In Osprey, fledged young may remain dependent on their parents for 30 or so days after leaving the nest.

Bustamente, J.  1995.  The duration of post-fledging dependence period of Ospreys Pandion haliaetus at Loch Garten, Scotland.  Bird Study 42:  31-36. 

In contrast, Lesser Kestrels only take care of their young for about 5 days after the young fledge.

Bustamente, J. and J.J. Negro.  1994.  The post-fledging dependence period in the Lesser Kestrel Falcon naumanni.  Journal of Raptor Research.  28:  158-163.  

In any case, that means that all of these chicks really have to get good at being on their own very quickly.  Once they leave the nest, they don’t have much time at all to get good at taking care of themselves.  So keep watching the workouts!

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About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
This entry was posted in birds, ecology, falcons, foraging. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An afternoon workout

  1. During the past days, I have been reassured to see one of the parents watching over the chicks. However, it looks like it is the same parent. I am guessing it is the male because it looks smaller than the bird (female) that was brooding the eggs. Am I right? Has anybody spotted the female? How can you tell them apart? Still utterly fascinated by this “bird’s eye” view of this little family, so high above Charlotte!

  2. The only real differences between males and females is the size. I have a good report that both parents are regularly around (my mother is usually trustworthy), though they may not make it into the camera angle. Males do generally do more feeding of nestlings than females- which may be why you’ve been seeing a lot of the same bird.

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