Observation date: 18 July 2014
A pleasant visit from two people that share the same passion and do the same thing that I do as volunteer interpreters for The Peregrine Fund through the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group… One of the few eyries that they watch is at the San Jose City Hall. Jon and Laurel Bianchi observe other pairs in and around the Monterey Bay area. They had never visited Morro Rock and were totally amazed at both the rock and what I have in front of me to share with everyone.
Bob, Laurel and Jon Bianchi Photo by Heather O’Connor
“Stepping out of your car and seeing wild unbanded birds is something you find in very few places.” They spent the better part of the day with me, for the first hour seeing nothing all the while I’m explaining the perches and nest sites they have used. When it came to describing the “diving board” eyrie, they had heard of this historic nest site, but then anyone who knows anything about falcons has heard about it.
By one o’clock the juvenile tiercel arrived.
“It’s “Homie,”broken primaries, hanging left foot. Yep, it’s “Homie.”
Forty five minutes later, the adult tiercel landed on the throne, the highest regular perching site on the south side of Morro Rock. Now we have one bird in each scope and have acquired everybody’s attention. I told Jon and Laurel that for the last few days nothing happens until about 3PM. The adult male stayed only about 20 minutes. It’s 2:55PM and my guests are still here. I’m hoping the birds can tell time or I’m going to have to come up with a real good falcon story. At 3:20PM, all heads turn south to hear the unmistakable screaming of a falcon.
I yell, “It’s “Homie” flying out over the bay to meet some one. It’s the adult tiercel incoming, packing a prey item.”
On the second try “Homie” got the mid air food transfer. It seems with a bad foot, he tends to miss on the first try. Laurel got a photo. Jon and I watched with our binoculars. Although we never saw the adult female or the other two chicks, it was never-the-less a great day and there is always tomorrow.
Happy trails, Bob
The next day, I sat with Laurel chatting about how they got into this work. Laurel told me that she had been at Village Elementary School in the 4th grade and was asked to chose a research project. She was curious about falcons and with the help of her teacher, Sherry Stack, she made lots of fine connections with people such as Glenn Stewart at the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG). It seemed her excitement was contagious and soon the whole family became interested in Laurel’s project.
She and her father are a part of a avid group who call themselves “falconatics” who monitor the San Jose City Hall falcons around town and by sitting on top of the 4th Street parking garage taking down the details of the peregrine activities. They are linked to other falcon watchers with radios/walkie talkies to keep track of the falcons.
From February to July, they go out on weekends to observe the falcons in the Santa Cruz Mountains. During incubation, they aim to make the trip every other day to zero in on the hatch date. Eventually they are doing a “fledge watch” and have a party having recognized another successful season of the peregrine watch for SCPBRG. Lots of data has been collected and the value is inestimable. Numerous researchers use this data.
Bob and Laurel observing “Homie” Photo by Heather O’Connor
Laurel’s father, Jon, has been excited about this type of work for years and has taken school children out of field trips to learn about the great out of doors. Both Bob and I could see the passion in the eyes of Jon and his daughter, Laurel, who has been doing this for 6 years. We are so glad that they came to visit us at Morro Rock.