The demands of a growing family of chicks, or should I say juvenile peregrine falcons, can be intense. Remember when you first heard the cry of your or your friend’s baby. It pulls at your heart. Now think of the cry of the falcon chicks when hunger strikes. Peace is gone and the hunt is on.
If the chicks live on Morro Rock, a trip is made by the tiercel to capture a peep on the long dune-covered sand spit or within the Morro Bay Estuary and its pickleweed covered silty flats seen at low tide. The falcon will capture a larger bird such as a willet. Since she is one third larger, she can carry a bigger bird. Shell Beach birds have brought in shorebirds from the beaches or Meadowlarks from the hillside across the Pacific Coast Highway.
The more the better, but every bite counts when you are raising three or four growing chicks. Knowing that the peregrines can choose from over 200 types of birds, there is variety in their diet. This variety maintains the health and vibrant colors found on these wild birds.*
On their return, the parent is seen from a long distance and the juveniles set up a pleading request of constant cacking.
“Feed me. Feed me. Feed me.”
If they are too young to fly up, greet the parent and grab the prey, they wait impatiently on the bluff. Well, barely patiently.
The parent dropping down, delivers the prey to the eager bunch who squabble over who gets the prey first. It’s the dominant juvenile who wins out, but may lose a bite while it is consuming its first bite. A sibling can easily sneak in and get its own tasty morsel. One may even try to run off with the prey. Games between the juveniles continue until the prey is devoured. Then the hunt is on again. More food! More! More! These are growing youngsters.
*Captive birds fed on the same diet day in day out tend to be less colorful.