It’s getting to that time of the season. And, although it is not possible to really tell them apart at this stage (if ever, if they are same gender), it’s a tradition to give them names. It was decided to call them after our planets. The two most popular names will be used. You have until next Monday to vote.
Here are the planet names:
Mercury, Venus, Earth/Gaia, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and I think we can allow Pluto, too as a minor planet.
1 Mercury = god of commerce, travel and thievery (Roman)
2 Venus = Roman goddess of love and beauty
3 Earth (or Gaia) = old English/Germanic
4 Jupiter = King of the Gods (Roman)
5 Mars = Roman god of war
6 Saturn = Roman god of agriculture
7 Uranus = ancient Roman deity of the Heavens
8 Neptune = Roman god of the sea
9 Pluto (furthest from the sun) = Roman god of the underworld.
Use the comments section below for your vote. I don’t think it matters what name ends up with what gender (and we can always swap later if necessary!).
The Central Western Daily (our local paper) has written an article on our babies. Click here if you are interested in reading this
And Xavier has been a very good father, not just providing food, but also taking over feeding duties to let Diamond have a good fly. He did this twice this afternoon
All is well with our two chicks, but it would seem that we will have only two chicks this year (as with the last two years). That makes the job for Diamond and Xavier a bit easier with a higher rate of success of fledging. Here Diamond is bringing in a prey (possibly a pigeon) to the chicks yesterday:
Prey has been a mixture of pigeons (including ferals and natives), the usual starling and rosellas and the odd oddity such as rufous songlark (we think). Many prey hard to identify as generally well prepped by Xavier prior to giving to Diamond.
Doing a bird survey in Girinyalanha (the wooded area below the nest) this morning at about 0815 h, we saw wrens, wattlebirds, rosellas and all the usual suspects PLUS we saw Xavier (a little out of focus, apologies) in a tall eucalypt keeping a wary eye on us:
And while I was doing a survey this morning around the main farm dam (no ducklings yet, at least not here), I took this shot of the tower (the nest box entrance is the other side).
And while we were there, a large kookaburra (the largest kingfisher in the world, not that he bothers to catch fish much), kept us company. Never seen this as prey!
I think next week, we need to consider names for our twosome. We decided some time ago to use planet names, so I’ll put up a new thread next week to that effect. Bye for now.
The second hatching occurred at 9 am on 5th October 2019. Mother and chick both doing well!
Here is a link to the beginning of the hatch:
The third egg hasn’t hatched, and the longer it remains ‘whole’ the less likely it will hatch. Here Diamond is ‘wriggling’ as if she is trying to crack open the egg. Might be a bit uncomfortable for the two tiny chicks, but they seem to survive the ordeal! Video:
As in 2018 and 2017, we may have just two eyases. But I think that’s less pressure for the parents, especially in the drought. One sole chick is not so good as it doens’t have the warmth of the other little body when the falcon (the female) goes hunting.
Xavier is being an excellent father as usual. He’s preparing the prey very well (and making it hard for us to identify the species!) and it’s not just starling, but larger prey just as pigeons as well. Interestingly, Diamond has also left the box to go hunting herself and Xavier has made some tentative moves to brood the chicks. Here is the video of this:
Thanks to everyone’s help on the youtube chat to try and identify prey. An interesting, but somewhat fruitless task when the prey comes in headless, tail-less, wingless and featherless in most cases! But we will perservere!
Talons crossed for a third chick, but two is also a perfect number.
First hatching was this morning at 0844 h. It went well, with a bit of help from Mum, who then helped herself to the membrane… Here is the link to the video
The little one didn’t have to wait long for a feed (and for us to get a glimse of him or her). Just two hours later, prey was brought in and fed to the chick (hard to see, I admit).
Another prey this afternoon came in and was fed. Diamond has a particularly clumsy entry after (presumably taking the prey from Xavier – I could see him flying about, but didn’t witness the actual handover). I haven’t identified the prey, so if you have any ideas, let me know. It’s the size (perhaps a bit bigger) and colour of a starling, but the legs are the wrong colour (stone, rather than pink) and the feet are really large.
And same prey in the nest, easy to see
Unfortunately, I have to leave early today, but will check in later to see if numher two has arrived.
Oh, and some pictures from Monday, in case you were wondering what the tower (and I) looked like! Photos from Rosemary Stapleton.
OR pdf version PP-Australia (30.09.19) shortened
Above is the link to Dr. Zubair’s talk which has some fascinating pictures in it. Dr Zubair, who is from Kerala in India, has studied peregrine falcons both in the wild and in captivity and there were some interesting points that came out of this talk. In particular, the fact that in some Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, the culture of falconry is so strong that there are vet hospitals SOLELY for falcons. Huge amounts of money are spent on them. I found this photo on line, which I’m sharing with you. It shows a plane hired especially for 80 falcons belonging to a (presumably very rich) shiek.
Although some falcons taken from the wild still, his last slide shows how many are released. And falcons are also bred specifically for falconry in many countries, including Spain and Germany, where Dr. Zubair has also studied. In his country India, as in Australia, of course, falconry is prohibited. Peregrines are only found in northern India and the birds are protected.
And I should add that Xavier was VERY well behaved on the walk we did before Dr Zubair’s talk, perching and flying to and from the water tower during our tower.
While he was here, apart from discussing possible avenues of collaboration for research, I took Dr. Zubair to the Orange Botanic Gardens and to our own property as he was hoping to see some kangaroos (which we not only saw, but also a swamp wallaby, a special treat).
Hatching soon! Keep watching. Cilla
Not a lot to report this week. Prey has been slow to come in and hard to identify, but some reasonable sized chunks have materialised.
You might be wondering why the falcon turns her eggs….this is to ensure that the developing check gets enough albumen. This is the part of the egg (the white part) which nourishes the chick by providing protein and water. According to the David Attendborough show on ‘eggs’ shown on Australian TV recently, the eggshell itself has tiny holes in it and there are two membranes (linings) inside the egg. One of these allows air and moisture to enter the egg and keep the chick alive, but the second helps to keep harmful bacteria out. As you can imagine the nests are not particularly hygienic places. And you’d certainly know about it if you had to go up the tower every now and then to clean it out.
Some photos from the week from Holly (thanks very much for these).
This morning, first Diamond, then Xavier got a surprise visit from a starling, then a kestrel respectively, both probably looking for nest-sites.
Here is the starling, who back-pedalled very quickly once it saw Diamond on her eggs.
And then, after Xavier came back with prey and took over incubation duties, here is a kestrel (slow speed) who interrupts Xavier’s doze – and his reaction.
Kestrels are very common in this area and have visited the nest box on occasion, hoping perhaps that it has been vacated. They are related to the northern hemisphere kestrels, but a different species. One often sees them around here on telegraph posts or hovering for small animal prey in the fields. They are sometimes called nankeen kestrels for the pinkish brown colour.
Dr Zubair Medammal, Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Calicut in India, expert on peregrine falcons, will present a free lecture sharing his insight on topics such as the majestic birds’ hunting, feeding, health, breeding and threats.
The date is Monday 30th September, venue Building 1004 Room 120, Charles Sturt University, Orange campus, Leeds Parade, North Orange.
The evening will start at 5.30 pm with a short visit to the water tower to see the nest-site. Here I will give a short talk on the Peregrine Falcon Project, which has been running for eight years. This will be followed by light refreshments and Dr. Zubair’s lecture.
We are really fortunate to have someone of Dr. Zubair’s expertise to visit Orange, let us in to some of his insights from his many years of peregrine research and hopefully give us some feedback on our project.
If you interested in attending, please register by email: email@example.com
And here are some photos from this week, provided by Holly for your enjoyment. She has produced some great pictures.
Not much other news. We got a decent drop of rain this week (at home, 5 km from here, we got nearly 25 mm) and expecting a bit more today. Drought leads to a rapid drop in numbers of birds (lack of insects, nectar and fruit), and consequently less prey for the peregrines.
Xavier, the tiercel, has not brought many prey to the box, so is either leaving it in a stash, or more likely is simply giving the falcon a chance to hunt for herself.
Have a great weekend.
I apologise for lack of update last week. I’m up to my ears with tree-planting – just finished the last one this morning, nearly 700 plants in the ground on a project site on the university grounds where we removed the invasive willows last year and are now attempting restoration with native plants. Lots of work! Now we need some rain. I was thinking of the peregrines as I was planting (well, directing!) as there were a flock of galahs wheeling over head and I was wondering where Diamond was!
Incubation is going to plan. Xavier is doing a lot of the incubation. He is quite unlike previous males that we have had as he actually nags Diamond to let him sit and often doesn’t want to leve them!
Here is Xavier being nagged by Diamond to get up and go and earn a crust, but he really doesn’t want to go!
I don’t think she minds really, as it gives her the chance to get something more tasty and nutritious than starling! To be fair, he has brought in other prey – here he has brought in a pigeon (I think). She is clearly very pleased with this and actually mantles it (covers it with her wings) which she doesn’t normally do.
In the next video, Xavier seems to be bringing in some prey, then changes his mind :
And finally, here is Xavier, after a long two-hour stint on the eggs, looking anxiously for Diamond’s return. One video is from the nest cam and one from the video cam;
Egg number two arrived at 0408 h early on Saturday morning 31st August. Here is a link to the video:
And egg number three arrived this afternoon at 1435 h. She now has three eggs, two dark red and one lighter coloured. It remains to be seen whether she will have a fourth (which would be a first, if you see what I mean!).
Here is a link to the third egg laying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XDUaZdcv6s
And in between, Diamond has been quite happy to let Xavier guard and/or incubate eggs while she goes off hunting, knowing perhaps that when the serious business of incubation starts (as it should now with three eggs) and chick feeding, she won’t have that luxury as often as now.
We’ve noticed that the appearance of the eggs hasn’t dampened Xavier’s ardor – below is a video of mating in the box, which is rarely observed. Perhaps he doesn’t actually realise that mating now is not going to have the desired effect ie more eggs…..or perhaps they are just enjoying the joys of spring!
Preys have been mostly starlings this week, although a crimson rosella copped it this afternoon, for which I’m sure Diamond was very grateful, being one of her apparent preferred foods.
We’ve never had a fourth egg at this nest site, but I am aware that four egg is often the norm in other areas. We shall see. Assuming all eggs hatch (which they didn’t last year) three chicks are easier raise than four, especially in these artificial nest-boxes. But what will be will be!