Jun 18 2013
Since Silver Boy’s death his parents have changed gears. They’re courting again.
In all my previous experience, Dorothy and E2 have always had other young to feed and teach after the death of a juvenile. Dorothy would mourn for a day while E2 took care of the “kids.” Then Dorothy would pick up where she left off and family life would return to normal.
But this year with only one fledgling their parenting duties ended abruptly last Friday. Instead of mourning they are courting.
When peregrines lose their entire clutch of eggs they immediately resume courtship and lay a second clutch within 14 days. The earlier in the season this happens, the more likely the second clutch will succeed and fledge. A complete and early loss of fledglings might trigger the courtship reaction.
On the afternoon of Silver Boy’s death E2 invited Dorothy to bow with him at the nest. As shown above she sometimes quit bowing before he did, but soon she got into the swing of things. They’ve been courting several times a day.
As she does before egg laying, Dorothy has begun hanging out at the nest. Here she stands at the nest in an “egg-y” position. Yesterday I saw her dig the scrape.
And she spent last night at the nest.
Will they raise a second family this year? No. There is no record of peregrines ever fledging two broods per year in North America. Our young peregrines must become independent no later than September. It takes four to five months to raise a peregrine from egg to self-sustaining juvenile. There just isn’t time.
And the sun will have its effect. After this Friday’s solstice the days will get shorter and Dorothy and E2′s breeding hormones will decline. Soon they’ll stop courting and begin their summer life, lounging and molting.
(photos from the National Aviary falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh)