Mar 08 2011
Providing food for his lady is an important part of male peregrine courtship.
At least six weeks before his mate lays eggs, the male begins to bring her food. At first he may seem reluctant to hand it over or she may snatch it by force, but as egg-laying time approaches she stops hunting on her own, he supplies all her needs, and they add ritual to the food exchange.
One ritual that many male peregrines engage in, and that E2 insists on doing for Dorothy, is an exaggerated plucking display.
When E2 brings food back to the Cathedral of Learning he won’t give it to Dorothy right away, even if she flies out to meet him. He makes her wait until it’s properly prepared.
He takes the prey to a cache area, removes the head and wings and makes an elaborate show of plucking it. The feathers fly! And he probably takes a few bites to sustain himself while he’s at it.
When he’s done, he presents the food to Dorothy with a bow. In the photo above from last Friday, she is bowing in return.
The photo makes me chuckle because E2 and Dorothy are breaking the assumptions people make about peregrine behavior. Ten years ago when I began watching nesting peregrines at Pitt I learned that “The male peregrine will not bring food to the nest until the eggs hatch. When you see him bring food to the nest you’ll be able to estimate the hatch date.”
E2 doesn’t care about those rules. There are no eggs yet, but he’s got a job to do and he likes to present the food at the nest.
“For you, my dear,” he says.