May 12 2014
With two Pittsburgh raptor nests on camera we’re able to watch the nest cycle differences between peregrine falcons and bald eagles. A big difference is timing: Peregrines nest later but they finish earlier. We’re about to see that unfold.
Back in March it felt like peregrine egg laying was “late” because the Hays bald eagles had been incubating for two and a half weeks before Dori laid her first egg at the Gulf Tower. In fact Dori was early, even by her own standards. We just didn’t realize how much earlier bald eagles begin.
On May 6 (above) the peregrine nestlings were still developmentally behind the eaglets. They weren’t very mobile and were still covered in fluffy white down with no apparent flight or facial feathers. They looked like babies.
On that same day the eaglets had been mobile for two weeks, had already grown some head and body feathers and had started to grow flight feathers. They already looked like eagles (below). PixController’s YouTube video of the bald eagles’ growth in April shows how they got to this stage.
Despite their late start the Gulf Tower peregrine chicks are about to surpass the Hays bald eagles. The table below shows they’ll depart their nest two+ weeks before the eaglets. The peregrine fledglings will fly right away (departing a cliff nest requires flight) while the eaglets will likely flutter from their tree to lower vegetation or the ground where they may wait 1-3 weeks before flying again.
Keep in mind that fledge dates are just estimates. Young birds learn to fly on their own schedule.
2014 NESTING LANDMARKS FOR THE GULF TOWER PEREGRINES AND HAYS BALD EAGLES:
|____________||1st Egg||Hatch||1st Flight/Nest Departure|
|Gulf Peregrines||3/10||4/20-4/23||5/28-6/02 (5.5 wks)|
|Hays Eagles||2/20||3/28-4/02||6/16-6/28 (11-12 wks)|
Start late, finish early. Peregrines are faster than eagles in everything they do.