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!
Our male peregrine, Xavier, has become a really good father. Sometime I think he prefers baby-sitting to hunting! He often comes to the nest to offer to take over for a while so that Diamond can go for a hunt (she will NOT catch starlings, you can bet your life on that!). She is happy to let him take over, even just hours after laying a new egg and he stays put for the duration, unlike some other males who really don’t make much of an effort to sit still!
Expect a second egg tonight. Diamond’s bottom is large and fluffy… And have a lovely weekend. I have a big weekend planned, planting out a flood plain paddock along a creek on the university land, with hopefully about 30 volunteers. Fingers crossed. Will look in our happy couple when I can, but second egg video might have to wait now until Monday as I don’t have access to this site on my laptop.
In this video, Diamond is returning to relieve Xavier who has been egg-sitting.
Diamond has finally produced her first egg, with some gentle straining over the last two days and with lots of encouragement from Xavier, who kept coming to look at the empty scrape!
And here is Xavier’s first look at the egg and some downtime with his Missus:
Expect another egg or two over the next day or so. Usually they are spaced a day or two apart. Also the female does not normally incubate the first eggs until they have all been lain, but I’ve noticed that Diamond often ignores that ‘convention’ (designed so that they all hatch at the same time and are easier to manage because they are all the same size).
No eggs yet, alas, but the rate of prey drops has gone up rather dramatically, with four being brought in by Xavier the other day (two starlings, and two smaller unidentified prey).
Xavier with prey, possibly small honeyeater
He also caught a red-rumped parrot, but has not managed to bring in anything very large for a while.
Here Diamond is in her scape. I’m looking for signs of straining, but nothing obvious yet.
After a snowy, freezing weekend last week, I am hoping for a clear weekend to catch up with some birding and gardening and that will give the peregrines good hunting time. It’s interesting, however, how they still manage to cope even in foul weather.
The nest cam chat will be opening soon, by the way. We will keep the ledge cam open for a bit as well, but as we are expecting eggs soon, most of the action will be in the nest for a bit.
Orange has seen its coldest spell this winter after a few months of quite dry and warm conditions. There’s even the possibility of snow tomorrow and there was some small hail today. That makes hunting difficult as not many birds come out and forage in weather like this. But these adult birds are resilient and can go for several days without food if necessary. It’s a quite different story if there are youngsters about as they need food several times a day. Fortunately, by the time eggs hatch, the conditions have usually ameliorated and, of course, there are more young (and unwary) birds around as prey.
Diamond has been doing her ‘I really don’t like starling act’ to the dismay of Xavier, who is doing his best! I think he brought in a grey shrike-thrush (larger, and we assume, tastier) this week, which was much more favoured, but here she is rejecting his starling offering.
You can keep your filthy starling, thank you!
And here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQWQit3mW0U&t=13s
You might be wondering when eggs are due. Here are some previous dates of 1st eggs:
2018: 20th August (Diamond)
2017: 26th August (Diamond)
2016: 28th August (Diamond)
2015: 31st August (Diamond)
2014: 3rd September (Swift)
2013: 27th August (Swift)
2012: 17th August (Swift)
Interestingly, while Swift’s eggs got later each year, Diamond’s are getting earlier. So if we focus on Diamond’s trends, we could have eggs quite soon, possibly even next week! I think I had better ask Scott to turn on the nest chat soon.
For those in southeastern Australia, rug up and keep warm this weekend. Plenty of indoor jobs that need doing!
I’ve manged to get into the website, but it’s a bit shaky and I keep losing connection, so I’ll keep it short.
The breeding season is going according to plan. The sounds of mating has been heard regularly by keen ears listening to the live youtube and Xavier has been bringing in prey on a regular basis and giving it to Diamond, who has been graciously receiving it (even starling, not her favourite!).
Here are the mating calls: https://youtu.be/oUHblT9AOfw
I have replaced the rather unstable wooden ‘perched’ (placed in the box to discourage Diamond from laying eggs in the webcam free corner) with heavier, more stable rocks. She wasn’t at all impressed with this at first, but seems to have accepted them now (after giving them a good kick and bite to make sure they weren’t alive!).
As I’m not confident of this being posted, I’ll leave it at this for the moment, but if it goes well, I’ll do regular updates (weekly) until the eggs hatched – probably still a couple of weeks to go.
I’m going to be away from next Tuesday, May 14 until Friday July 19. I’m going to a month in Spain (guitar and language workshops, plus some bird watching in the Pyrenees) and week in France with my daughter and grand-daughter (the Lascaux caves, plus Bordeaux), then three weeks in UK visiting family and friends. So I doubt if I will be posting again until I get back.
Scott has been travelling in southern Australia, but will be back soon and is working hard on getting a new website up and running (and hopefully our recording software as I would like to start recording the breeding behaviour again this year). If the software still doesn’t work, I might try to use the youtube with its four hour rewind, plus Movavi screen recorder. With these, and help from you guys putting timestamps of coming and going on the chat (or new website if that’s possible), I should be able to get reasonable date. In the meantime, my colleague Rosemary is starting to do some analysis on the prey images – if unidentifiable, she will be sorting them into five size categories.
Meanwhile all is well with our couple, Diamond and Xavier. Occasional food bringing (which should start ramping up over the next two months), plus courtship bowing and ‘dancing’. Diamond often sleeps in the box at night, mostly with a very full crop, and often on her ‘perch’.
If you are not already on to this, you might be interested in the situation in Monarch Place, Springfield, Massachusetts. A young female, probably the daughter from last year’s brood, but this cannot be confirmed, has moved into the adults nest when the first egg was lain. I haven’t been able to confirm who actually laid the eggs, but I assume it was the adult. After some disconcerting scenes whereby the juvenile pushed the adult off the eggs (but wouldn’t budge when the adult female returned), they do seem to have come to some sort of accommodation. The juvenile has been bringing in food, but didn’t know how to feed the youngsters (two egggs have hatched successfully despite the turmoil!) and the adult appears to be actually teaching her ‘daughter’ to feed the babies. Very unusual situation. Here are some videos below:
JUVENILE INCUBATING. Adult female trying to move her
JUVENILE BETTER AT SHIFTING ADULT!
NEXT STAGE: Mother takes over
LAST SEEN: Co-operative feeding, two chicks
Anyway, we’ll have our own dramas to deal with when the new season eventuates – courtship in July/August. Egg-laying late August (generally), so watch this space.
Here is an email from Megan Fulton in Canada with details of the above site – and other happenings that you might wish to follow up. Bye for now. Cilla
My e-mail is going to be temporarily shutdown tomorrow, Sunday. So, that means any you send to me will be delayed a few hours till tomorrow evening, not a big deal. Will check on Monday am. While watching ATP Mens Tennis from Madrid, Spain, starting at 4am Calgary time. Also will be setting up a new micro computer (Windows 8.1, but only cost about $150 Cdn $ ($125 US$, uses HDMI connection Monitor, IO GEAR dock to enable wired keyboard. That should keep me out of trouble.
Will just have to watch the peregrine falcons in the Edmonton & Genesee snows, each of 3 cameras have them sitting on 4 eggs apiece. Stumbled across another site, where the juvenile female from last year refused until hungry to get off her mother’s new batch of egg. That’s at Springfield Massachusetts (sp?). Live cam, no sound there, no Infra Red for night viewing. Via Youtube, “Monarch Place Live Falcon Cam”,
LIVE CAM AT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWDKR3ltzwQ
Just checked again: mom & other tussling, What a drama! At least 1 has hatched, view at about 1:15pm EST, 90 min ago at 12:45pm MT.
Genesee has new PTZ camera for recording/streaming. Strobe light at night is disconcerting, focus needs adjustment. Only 480p quality. Have to view via 34″ TV acting as 2nd (additional) monitor to see properly.
Weber & Misericordia sites down or off-line this year. Construction at the former, no reason given for the latter.
3 new babies at Anacapa Island, hatched over last 3-4 days, remaining egg probably a “Dudley”, i.e. failed to hatch, for whatever reason, and since I think (but not know for sure) that it was the first laid egg of the 4, if not hatched by Monday, unlikely to be viable.
Watching the constitutional crisis in US building to a head. Former adviser to Trump, Steve Bannon, now attacking Pope Francis, is currently living in Italy. Yikes!
That element is clearly poisoning Canadian politics, like a mist of Agent Orange drifting across the border. Allusion to Trump (orange make-up and hair dyes is intentional.
On the bright side, a Northern Flicker has been announcing his amorous wishes by jack-hammering on something metallic on my roof. Sounds just like an electric screw driver being used.
The leaves of the exotic trees in Orange are turning red and yellow and the nights are cooling, although it’s still surprisingly warm. The youngsters are long gone. We had a scare following a call about a falcon with an injured wing on a road in Orange, but it turned out to be a hobby, which is very similar, but smaller and more golden in colour. that bird has gone into care.
Both birds have been regular visitors to the box. Diamond has discovered a piece of wood I put in the corner to stop them building a scrape there (as it’s out of view of the both webcams) and is delighting on perching on it for hours, after her initial suspicions were allayed. I intend to replace this with a sturdier rock. She is spending most nights in the box, but is often away as well. Xavier usually visits first thing in the morning. Here is making rather a clumsy entry:
What is a bit odd is that both birds have been bringing prey into the box. Xavier brought in a small lump recently and looked hopefully around for someone to offer it to (!), and Diamond brought in a smallish prey after dark last night – and collected it before dawn this morning (so, whilst I could record it, I couldn’t identify it). Whether she had been given this by Xavier or caught it herself, I don’t know. But I do know that just prior to that she had been sitting on the ledge with an extremely full crop, so she certainly wouldn’t have been hungry, so I rather suspect it came from Xavier.
And the retrieval in the morning (but still dark):
The birds have also been bowing in courtship ritual, with Xavier dancing around Diamond in his usual light-footed way. Nothing particular unusual about this as they renew their bonds at regular intervals, but a nice picture.
I”ll probably do one more post before I go overseas (I leave on May 14; back July 18). Bye for now.
As we have had no sightings, either through the cam or in the field, I think we can safely assume that our 2018-9 youngsters, Gaama and Budhin are on their way to a new life in a new territory. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, of course, if one of them turns up – but how will we know whether it is one of ours? No way of knowing, of course.
Before they left, one of them (I think, the larger Gaama) brought in a musk lorikeet (a small, rather uncommon, parrot). Who knows, perhaps this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the parents decided that it was time for them to move on. Once the juveniles start ‘competing’ with adults on their own turf, then this is one of the signals for parents encouraging the youngsters to become more independent. This is certainly the longest time that we have recorded for young to be still within the territory after fledging.
I’ll still keep updating the blog from time to time if something interesting happens, but I’ll be winding down a bit myself and will be away in Europe mid-May to mid-July, back in time for the 2019-20 season.
Thanks to all those who have provided feedback and additional information. The Youtube chat has been excellent, but of course does not provide a permanent record, like this blog.