Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Check

Today was the last time Rich and I will check the kestrel nest boxes for this year.  This is primarily because both boxes are within a week to 10 days before they fledge, and I don't want to prematurely spook anyone out of their box before they are ready to go on their own.  Also, the corn in the field has grown so tall (well higher than "knee high by the Fourth of July") that carrying the ladder must surely be difficult for him, and while walking through the field, I almost lost Christina, who joined us for today's inspection.  She's quite a bit shorter than I, and the corn is getting as tall as me, almost, in many places.
The first box of eyases, overlooking the field by the farm, continues to have the more aggresive chicks.  This time just about every one of them flipped over and tried to defend themselves.  Each was individually removed and checked to log the number of each male and female for each box.  I wish I had the ability to band them, but I don't, and I didn't contact anyone that could.  They continue to be about as offensive with their feet at a playful kitten, which still smarts, but this time a couple used their beaks, and those hurt!
The count for the first box was:  Three females; Two males
This fierce little female had quite the bite on her!  She seems to be the oldest of the bunch.
Here is the emerging tail of the female.  Her tail will have multiple bands of black on it, other than just the large terminal band at the end of the tail.  The male's tail will only have the white then the black, and then be the mahogany/red the rest of the way up the feathers.  This eyases' tail also looks chalky from the mutes (falcon poop) in the box.  Once they are not all crowded in the box they will be able to preen themselves clean.
They have reached about full size.  Here is a comparison to a human hand . . . a gloved human hand . . . Christina's hand.  She didn't want to get grabbed.  Several times I used a glove to deflect the feet.  I didn't want to get grabbed either, though it is nothing like the handshake of a red tail!
The box in the back field revealed:  Three males; Two females

There are mates in one box for the birds in the other.  Of course, statistically, many of these future fledglings will not survive their first year.  Also, their insticts will cause them to migrate out of the area, to disburse, so any that do survive will most likely settle in some other location.

Next week I will simply observe from a distance with my spotting scope.  I hope to catch a couple pictures of fledglings leaving their nest box to explore the greater world outside.

We then took Christina up to the Decorah Fish Hatchery, to see the eagle nest in person.  I did locate one of the brancher eagles, and Rich took its picture.
Look!  A "baby" bald eagle!

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