river talk

Peregrine flight school

By SCOTT RANDO
Posted 6/30/21

Around the middle of June, I took a trip to New York to monitor a peregrine nest. It was just about time for the young to fledge—a good time to get a count of the number of young. On arrival, I …

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river talk

Peregrine flight school

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Around the middle of June, I took a trip to New York to monitor a peregrine nest. It was just about time for the young to fledge—a good time to get a count of the number of young. On arrival, I heard young peregrines in different areas of the rocky outcrops beyond where the nest scrape was located. They had already taken their first flights sometime recently. Perhaps these young decided it was a good time to rest and recover from their first leap off the cliff into the sky. The adults, however, had other ideas.

Both adults did a considerable amount of flying near the cliff. Back and forth along the edge they went, usually working in shifts. They would fly close to where young were perched in an effort to coax them to fly. The male adult appeared to be carrying something at one point; a photograph showed it to be a blue jay. Like eagles and other raptors, peregrine falcons will try to “bribe” their young into flying and other related skills with food items.

It’s to the young falcon’s benefit that the parents practice a bit of tough love in getting them to fly in a timely manner. In the relatively short time that the young and the parents are together over the summer, the act of flying is just a prerequisite for the advanced skills needed if the young are to survive their first year. They need to learn things like catching birds in mid-air, fighting off interlopers from future territories, and performing these and other aerial feats while avoiding contacting trees or the earth at high rates of speed.

After a while, I saw two falcons leave their perches and proceed to fly close to each other and display talons. This only lasted a minute or so, but these two young, probably without realizing it, were entering their advanced training syllabus part of peregrine flight school.

peregrine

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