Feb 28 2011
As I pointed out earlier this morning (see below), we’re starting to see activity on the falconcams, but at this time of year it’s even more exciting to watch peregrine falcons at distance.
In the weeks leading up to egg laying the pair engages in courtship flight. It’s a spectacular way for them to get in tune with each other and show off their flying prowess.
Here’s what you’ll see.
The male peregrine begins by circling high above the cliff. Sometimes he travels in an undulating pattern or a figure eight. His mate will rise up near him and circle high as well. Soon they’ll begin to play in the air and may roll upside down or make a big Z in the sky. Sometimes this “playing” looks dangerous because he’ll dive on her as if she were prey — but of course he misses. Sometimes he pretends to bring her food and they do a mock prey exchange.
Back and forth, soaring high and diving low, their flight is breath-taking and they clearly enjoy it. Not only does it cement their pair bond but it advertises to any passing peregrine that their nest cliff belongs to them.
Eventually the pair zooms to the cliff and lands near the nest.
If you’re watching their nest on a FalconCam on your computer, you might see them on camera at this point. But you’ll have missed the big show.
(photo by Chad and Chris Saladin)