Observation date: 26 May 2015
A great day for the three young falcons, for they took to the air today sometime before we arrived at the north side of Morro Rock. Looking up toward the nest site, there were no chicks visible.
Gordon Robb was a few minutes ahead of me and said, “It looks like a chick on the shark fin.”
After setting up my equipment another one popped up from behind the same fin-shaped rock. The rock is located at the far left end of the north face, high up jutting into the sky line.
After watching the two for a while, we started looking for “peek-a-boo,” the one that seems to be a little behind on everything. Our best guess was that he was still in the nest site, out of sight. Upon further observations, we noticed a Western Gull making repeated swoops near some brush about twenty yards to the right of the shark fin. Within a minute, the adult female came screaming in on the gull at Mach 7, raking it with the hallux* talon. We knew then the whereabouts of “peek-a-boo.” He was not left behind as we thought, but had crash landed in the bushes behind the rocks. His only mistake was that he crashed too close to the gull’s nest.
We didn’t get to see the actual first flights that day, but when we did see them, they were a 125 yards away and no lower than the elevation of the nest site. This was pretty remarkable for all three on their first attempt on flying.
We stayed there for a total of six hours watching the parents bring food to each. The young ones making several more flights, never lower than the first. Except there was one that a chick made when he dove on a gull and surprised himself that he could stay with a gull for a few fast sharp turns.
Payback time is just down the road.
Happy trails, Bob
The south side falcons have started breeding again. So maybe a second clutch is in the making.
*hallux – The toe which faces backwards on most raptors. It is the hallux that rakes the flesh or pulls feathers. In hawks, this is the talon most responsible for puncturing the vitals of prey. See Glossary for more information and the archived article with photos dated May 2014.