This is the fifth in a series of tales about the “famous and not-so-famous birds of Morro Rock.”
This bird that I am speaking of is probably the most famous bird in the las two decades as far as I’m concerned. She is the matriarch of Morro Rock. She was a young female when she arrived at Morro Rock in the late summer of 2000, a sub-adult still carrying some juvenile plumage. That summer we had lost a banded female named “Millie.” No one knew what happened to “Millie.” There was no carcass; she was just gone. Her mate at the time was a banded tiercel named “Rudy” because of the “RU” on one of his banded legs. “Rudy” had been single for some time when the young female arrived. He tolerated her perching on his rock and as the weeks passed by he showed some interest by flying around her. Nothing spectacular.
As October turned to November and the days got shorter, she was now in adult plumage, distinct white patch on the side of her head to contrast the black mustache and yellow cere. She is a powerful and swift female, large, but not overly large. Somehow they know after the Winter Solstice about Christmas time, there is something in the air that says courtship.
The male starts flying faster and closer to her as she perches to watch this display of speed, power and agility which is all meant for this young maiden. Within a couple of days he approached her overhead, the young female went into a submissive squat, her chin on the rock and her tail high. They continued this several times a day for the next three months. That year, her maiden year, she had one chick in a nest site called the “mailslot.” Since that first year and the ten years after, she has given us 25 young falcons from three different males. She is about thirteen now and just as beautiful as the day she arrived that late summer day.
Happy trails, Bob