Kids grow up fast, very fast, as every parent knows. That means that Season 2 of Keeping Up with the Peregrines is almost done.
The peregrine chicks that were born in late April are now spreading their wings, practicing flight and rarely spending much time in their rooftop nest any longer. The streaming webcam on the roof of UC Davis Medical Center isn’t showing the same amount of nest activity as it was a month ago.
Unfortunately, the process of learning to fly is fraught with peril for urban birds. One of the five young falcons got injured last weekend. She likely collided with a nearby building, which is not too unusual for immature birds.
After reports came in from a hospital nursing supervisor about the injured bird, our resident falconer, Bill Corbett, gently retrieved the young female and whisked it over to the renowned Small Animal Clinic at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis. Vet school experts diagnosed a broken wing and severe shock. But they could not do any more for the youngster at that point and had euthanize it.
Three of the five original peregrines are still being seen around the nest. The remaining birds who are staying close to home for the moment include the smallest member of the family, a late bloomer Corbett has affectionately dubbed “Peanut”
Peanut remains behind in development because he hatched five days after his siblings, which is unusual. His brother and sisters (which are the larger birds) began flapping and working out, and then left the nest on June 3 to fledge and get out on their own. Peanut, meanwhile, waited until June 8 to make his first flight.
Corbett, who recently participated in a discussion about falcons with another peregrine expert, retired veterinarian William Ferrier, says this is a risky time. The youngsters are still not great flyers yet.
“It’s ironic that the bird we didn’t expect to make it [“Peanut”] is alive and flying now,” said Corbett. “We can only hope for the best.”
Fortunately, the peregrine parents are still watching over their children and providing some food as the youngsters learn to hunt on their own. “Mom” was seen recently dropping off tasty morsels, which Peanut and his sister undoubtedly enjoyed.
If you are interested in more details and information about peregrine falcons, watch our recent discussion about it here. Participants included Corbett and Ferrier, who also used to serve as director of the California Raptor Center at UC Davis.