Friday, April 23, 2010

Peregrine courtship feeding

I just witnessed a fantastic urban wildlife scene unfold over the brilliant blue skies of western Winnipeg (Atlas code D = probable breeding) so decided to make a quick post. Homeward bound shortly around 6:30pm, I watched a pair of Peregrine Falcons exchange a prey item high above the bustling streets. The presumed male (smaller) was carrying a large, dark brown avian prey item, which may have been a duck or a grebe or because at one point i think i noted a webbed or possibly lobed foot. This bird was engaging in a slow flutter flight of sorts, decelerating until he was almost hovering but still ascending extremely slowly and the presumed female (larger bird) come in from underneath, performing a barrel role about two feet below him just as he let go of the prey so that it fell into her outstretched, inverted talons. Their timing was not perfect this time though, and she fumbled and had to swing back around and intercept the falling prey item, which she did remarkably quickly.

I witnessed all of the above from my car window and, after she took the prey to a high perch and began eating, I swung the car around and found a spot to park and get out the camera. By the time I had done so he had come and perched near where she was eating. Here he is waiting patiently as she eats.

He may look patient enough but he is hungry too!

Eventually she has had her fill and flies off, allowing me to snap a couple of flight shots.

He flies around and walks along the ledge to take his turn at the dinner table, allowing me to try to read his band number – looks like “08” as can be seen in the second shot, (cropped and enlarged).

He then takes his turn (now you can see the band on his other leg)

Finally he decides to fly off, carrying the then mostly dismembered prey item some distance in the same direction that the female had flown.

As he goes, the take-off shot above and this parting photo seem to confirm my suspicion that the prey item is a duck (look at the foot structure).

Always something happening!


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