Some peregrine chicks are missing!
Where did they go?
Don't worry—they’re safe. Peregrine biologists remove some of the chicks to a breeding facility and then the Pembina Hack Site. There are a couple of different reasons to do this. First, it’s much safer for the chicks when they are unlikely to crash into buildings or cars while learning to fly. Second, this is where they belong—historically, peregrines nest in cliffs, not buildings. And because they often return to where they learned to fly, the chicks will return next year to start their own families near the Pembina River.
Update: August 3, 2018
It's hard to keep track of these chicks when they're out flying and are rarely in the nest box, but we're happy to say he (!) made it through the storm earlier this week.
Update: July 30, 2018
We haven't forgotten about her. The chick left at this site is not often seen in the nest box. She fledged early last week and has been flying well.
Update: July 9, 2018
The one chick (female) left here is an explorer. She wanders all around the next box area, but still toddles back into the nest box to eat and nap.
Update: June 29, 2018
The adults are excellent providers and the chicks are extremely well fed. The chicks are also looking for fun and adventure. It was comical to watch Mom practically sit on one of the chicks to keep it in the box area, while the other ventured out. It was a big decision to make whether she should dash out to herd the escaped one or keep the one she had in custody. Seems she's fighting a losing battle; these chicks are ready to explore.
Update: June 19, 2018
As we already know, one of the eggs was lost at this site and there is another here that has not hatched. At this point, it likely won't. But the two chicks who are here are healthy and VERY enthusiastic at feeding time.
Update: June 11, 2018
There is at least one ball of fluff in this nest box.
Update: June 6, 2018
We're getting very close to hatch time!
Unborn peregrine chicks have what’s called a “hatching muscle”—a large muscle that runs from the middle of the neck to the top of the head. After 30 days of incubation, the muscle contracts, causing the chicks head to snap outwards, starting the hatching process.
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Update: June 5, 2018
One of the eggs was lost last week. Sometimes when an egg is not viable, and it suffers from extreme heat, it can explode. The egg count is down to three now and we're expecting them to hatch soon, perhaps even sometime this week.
Update: May 31, 2018
Though the weather this week has been a little cool, the birds don’t sit on those eggs just to warm them up. Eggs can take some degree of cooling, but more importantly, they need to be protected from direct sunlight and heat otherwise they will dry out and kill the embryos.
And you may have noticed that during the hot weather, the birds will pant, kind of like a dog. Birds don’t sweat because water is too heavy to carry in flight, so they pant to cool.
Update: May 22, 2018
There are four eggs at this site and the male and female are taking turns with incubating. If you've ever wondered how chicks breathe while stuck inside the eggs: eggshells are porous and allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through.
Update: May 11, 2018
Eggs #3 and #4 have been laid.
Weekend Update: May 8, 2018
This nest seems to have settled down. No more fights to report but there are a couple of eggs. Egg #1 laid very early Saturday morning and Egg #2 early Monday morning.
Update: May 2, 2018
Another site filled with drama! A couple of weeks ago, there was a fight between two males and another between two females a few days ago. We're still not 100 percent sure who the birds are that won the site but judging from markings and behaviour, we believe we have a repeat of last year: M49 and B32. We will only get a look at the parent's bands when the chicks are banded.
Update: May 1, 2018
Two females got into quite a skirmish at this site a few days ago. We're not sure who won, but will keep you posted on who ends up nesting here.
Update: April 24, 2018
There is a female hanging around the box for the last week, but we're unable to tell who it is. Is M49 back or has she also been replaced?
Bell Tower brought us a case of the clones in 2017. We celebrated the return of E4, only to learn E4 was not E4 at all! A closer look during the banding of her chicks revealed she was actually M49. With the same markings, mannerisms, and walk, we thought M49 was likely one of E4’s offspring, but it turns out she's actually related to Radisson from the U of A cam (Radisson and M49's father have the same mother). Her healthy two chicks were anxious to grow up, fledging a little early. While the adults weren’t seen much by this point, they were likely keeping an eye on their girls while finding a different roof to hang out on.
Species at Risk
Although the peregrine falcon and the ferruginous hawk get a lot of attention because they are obviously excessively cool, there are many other interesting species that are considered to be Species at Risk, and there is no good reason not to learn about them! For example, the greater sage grouse is a very unique looking upland bird and there are very few left in Alberta. Also check out some of the bat conservation initiatives in Alberta.