Saturday, July 18, 2009

One Remaining Falcon

I don't mean to turn this into the all falcon all the time blog, but I do try to keep this mostly nature related and falcons are what's happening these days in the nature aspect of my life. And while I may be stressing over human stuff, it's been a tougher time for falcons.

Yes, we're down to one remaining flying falcon from this year's four fledglings, and of all birds, it's Brittnie, runt of the litter, last to hatch, last to fledge, lay around for days instead of flying Brittnie. We can never really know what is going on in the mind of a falcon, but if it's anything more than raw instinct, you have to wonder what this bird is thinking/feeling these days having seen her three siblings disappear. Is there a sense of loss and impending doom? A celebration that all the food belongs to her now? Would she feel like she'd beaten the odds if she knew that only about 1/4 of birds survive their first year?

To recap: we've never heard any more about Zinger, the bird I babysat during banding and who disappeared about a week after fledging. Thursday night, the police got several calls about an injured falcon in the street. A wildlife rehabber picked up the bird, who turned out to be Mariah (nicknamed Hog because at banding she was twice the size of any of her nestmates). Mariah was taken to the Raptor Center in St. Paul, where one of our previous falcons wound up and had a couple surgeries before being releasable. I haven't heard any more yet about the injury or prognosis. Yesterday afternoon, folks who run the falcon program got several calls about a dead banded falcon; someone went searching but didn't find the body. Today a call came from someone who had the body which turned out to be Alex, the male who about a week ago had perched close and low next to the park for some great viewing.

I've spent a little time watching the past couple days, and had some great moments even with only one youngster remaining. Yesterday there was an aerial food transfer from Dad to Britt, and while I had my binoculars on a couple crows, Ma Falcon burst into the scene attacking one of them! Today as I bent over to make a note about a Brittnie takeoff, she flew right by me, close enough that if I'd seen her coming I would have dived out of the way.

We're never completely sure how many of each year's young make it out of town to start their migrations in the fall, but as far as I recall only one past fledgling was confirmed dead in town. I don't think we've even had any definite disappearances like Zinger before. The previous bird who wound up at the Raptor Center was found injured down in that area, about 150 miles from here as the falcon flies. Last year we lost 3 of the 4 nestlings to frounce, but it's tougher emotionally to lose this year's birds after having seen them flying and shared some moments of their short lives. Keep your talons crossed for continued flight and a full recovery for the two remaining sisters.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Greentangle,
As I wander about this cyber world I find places that inspire and move me. Yours is one. The work you and your group do is huge, and I pray for that one remaining falcon to soar. To your wonderful efforts I write - Kia kaha, or Remain Strong.

greentangle said...

Thanks, Robb. At first I was going to reply that I don't really do anything but watch and enjoy myself. But being part of the education effort which causes people to learn and care about these birds so that when one is injured calls do get made looking for help is important. Trying to get people to care about the natural world is important.

I don't think I've written about it here, but where we set up the scopes is in a park where a lot of homeless and addicted and mentally ill people hang out. Seeing them get enthused about following the falcons' lives, and having the chance to interact with each other with respect usually shown on both sides, is also a rewarding part of the time I spend there.