Four Hatchlings for Savanna and Newman!

Congratulations to Savanna and Newman on four hatchlings: the 49th, 50th, 51st, and 52nd falcons to hatch here! Savanna has excellent feeding and care instincts and Newman is keeping everyone supplied with as many birds as he can bring to the box. We’re keeping a close eye on them and looking forward to banding on May 27. To watch live, follow this link:

Why don’t Savanna and Newman build a nest?

Peregrine falcons do not build stick nests, although they sometimes use the nests of other large birds including ravens, owls, and even bald eagles. Male and female falcons create a nest by wiggling and rolling to make a scrape, or shallow depression in the substrate. More on nests here:

How long does it take Peregrine Falcon eggs to hatch?

Peregrine falcons begin full incubation after the female lays her penultimate egg. Since peregrine falcons typically lay four eggs, it usually starts at egg #3. But it can begin earlier or later, depending on how many eggs she lays. She’ll may also spend more time on her first and second eggs if the weather drops below freezing. The less time she spends on her first two eggs, the more synchronous hatching is likely to be!

We estimate hatch to begin 33 days after full incubation begins. However, it can go a little later than that and did at GSB this year.

What are those black and yellow birds that Savanna and Newman are bringing in?

Good question! It’s pretty common for falcons to do most of their food prep outside the nestbox, which makes it very hard to ID them. Here are some common black and yellow/orange birds at Great Spirit Bluff:

  • Eastern Meadowlarks: The Howe family have a prairie at the top of their bluff, so grassland birds are on the menu! Eastern Meadowlarks are relatively large gliding birds: relatively easy to catch and a good return on the energy expended to catch them.
  • American Goldfinches: American Goldfinches are small, maneuverable birds that spend a lot of time in and among the tree canopy. They wouldn’t be as easy to catch, but they are quite common and also in the area.
  • Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore oranges are black and orange, not black and yellow. But they are a very common bird and we’ve found their remains in several peregrine eyries. Like American Goldfinches, they spend more of their time in and among the tree canopy. But their large size and flashy colors might catch a peregrine’s eye.
  • Yellow-Shafted Flicker: I don’t think these birds are flickers, but we see them quite a bit. They are a large, flashy bird with a bobbing, gliding flight: easy to catch and a lot of bang for the buck!
Has Savanna been a mother before? She seems so good at it!

That we know, Savanna has not nested before. She turned up at GSB and US Bank in La Crosse a number of times, but no one has any record of her nesting.

We’ll be curious to see how her behavior differs from Zooey’s first year. It’s worth remembering that Zooey began breeding at two years old, which is just into falcon sexual maturity. Her lack of experience might have been compounded by her youth. We’ll be looking into that more.