Here comes the rain again

As we prepare for another day of rain in Charlotte, I keep getting questions (many from my mother) about how the falcons handle the rain.  I can’t imagine that they really love it, but it really doesn’t do them much harm right now.  Feather are really quite good at insulating the birds from the water.  If they’re on screen during a storm, you can usually see birds fluff themselves up.  When a bird does that, it’s actually repositioning its feathers so that they hold more air close to the body and keep the water off of them.  Unless the rain goes on for days (or the feathers are unhealthy or the birds are full of parasites), then they can stay pretty dry under there.

In fact, it looks like the rains are actually probably pretty good for these birds, since they’re not stuck in the nest anymore.  Peregrines rear broods more successfully in years with plenty of rain during the nestling season.  If there’s too much rain during the incubation part of the year, that’s a problem because it can result in a wet nest which can make incubation more difficult.  The wet nestling season should be good for producing lots of insects, which is good for producing lots of healthy birds who make for good dinner for the falcons.

Olsen, P.D. and J. Olsen.  1989 Breeding of the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus.  III.  Weather, nest quality and breeding success.  Emu 89:  6-14.

Right now, their feathers look pretty good, if a bit messy.  You can see the  their juvenile plumage coming through the bits of down still left on their bodies, here.  This photo is one my mother took today.  The adults are just out of the frame, on the rail above the kids (making all sorts of noise, apparently).

photoPretty soon, those birds will be ready to take off into the world.  Are they looking off at the world or watching the impending storm?  Or possibly singing a Eurythmics tune?  That’d be my bet.

 

 

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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.
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One Response to Here comes the rain again

  1. Great photo, Mom! With the new camera position, I can see the birds’ beaks opening and closing repeatedly–wish I could hear what they sound like. Also, how can you distinguish male birds from female birds?

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