I'd much rather read than write so it's not much of a blog...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Street Theatre

Fancy during the 2006 banding

For my birthday lunch with a friend who's a real birder, I'd requested we go downtown and look for falcons while we were there. The outing turned out to be the best gift I could imagine.

We knew the two males had fledged on Saturday and that the females had left the box as of Wednesday morning. After they leave the box they spend some time on the balcony before they take to the air so we weren't sure if they were all on the wing or not. We saw a falcon in the air before we parked and then as we were walking, we saw several in a matter of minutes.

We stopped and were standing around looking up to the sky and the Verizon tower where the young falcons spend a lot of time on the platforms when we suddenly realized there was a falcon on the sidewalk across the street from us. Within seconds two men were there, members of the group of people who keep watch during the first flights. One was George Marleau from the NY DOT who has taken the lead on all things regarding the Syracuse peregrine falcons and it was a pleasure to finally meet him in person.

George identified the bird as Matilda and said she had just taken her first flight that morning. She appeared to be stunned but uninjured. She didn't really try to fly but she did move away from efforts to capture her. We helped warn off motorists until George finally got close enough to toss a blanket over her and scoop her up into a box but the whole time all I could see was her huge feet and those incredible talons.

By the time his wife arrived to take George and the bird to a veterinarian for a check up, Matilda was much more active in the box but it was only after they left that the real drama began.

Obviously, it was fortunate that Matilda was grounded and captured before either of the adults realized what was happening. Shortly after George left, Jennifer and I heard Fancy, the adult female, in the air over the tower building where the nest box is located on the 20th floor balcony. Her alarm calls easily overrode the traffic din. We watched as the three juveniles came in and perched in various spots on the tower but of course Fancy continued to call for the fourth.

Although we have no idea how Fancy determined something was amiss, it was amazing to see her 'call down' her brood and see the youngsters respond. We don't know how long she kept at it because after several minutes we found it difficult to watch and listen any longer. We walked over to Armory Square and had a lovely, quiet lunch.

When we returned to the tower building Fancy was still on and around the balcony, still calling, but her behavior was different and we couldn't see any other birds. We spoke to another falcon observer and she confirmed what we suspected: Matilda had been returned to the balcony and Fancy was trying to call her out but she was having none of it.

My only regret is that I never expected to get anywhere near a falcon so it didn't occur to me to take my camera but there was a photo of Maestro in The Post Standard after his first flight on Saturday and there are those fabulous feet...

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