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Category Archives: vultures
One warm sunny day and everything starts happening. Breeding is nearly in full swing. About three times within a four hour period on their arrival to the “rock,” the south side falcons flew into the diving board eyrie and spent … Continue reading
On one of my previous postings, dated July 5th, titled “Pure speculation” I had a good idea that the black turkey vultures might be nesting in an old eyrie they had used a few years back. Earlier that month I thought I saw vultures copulating near the nest site.
Well, yesterday all my speculations came to fruition. “Welcome Spec to Morro Rock.” One big beautiful ugly baby vulture! Most people thought I was full of you-know-what, but there he was at 12:12PM standing on the rock that hides the nest site. A lot of white on the chest and a downy head. I hurried to get a shot with my Canon SX35. I fumbled and stumbled, then buck fever set in, but I got one at 200 yards. The image was fair so I got on the horn to Cleve Nash, our resident long range specialist. I begged and pleaded with him to meet the next day with all of his large artillery, close to 5000mm fully armed. Well, for the first three hours, nothing. And to think I pulled him away on the first bright sunny day that we’ve had in a week. A photo of a vulture! No dignity at all. Cleve was a great sport all the time I was apologizing and groveling about the vulture not showing up. We watched several pairs of adult vultures circle the nest site. We would get excited on thinking one would land to feed the young, but nothing came of it. After they left, the chick came out and Cleve got the shot, in fact he got many shots of him hopping to another rock and flapping his wings. Cleve was not entirely happy because of the lighting and the wind. So tired, hungry and happy, we left the rock and the young vulture in the warm sun and cool ocean breeze.
Happy trails, Bob.
P.S. This was written yesterday. “Spec” fledged today.
We are trying to keep you abreast of the peregrines activities at the rock, but it’s been rather quiet since the juveniles have fledged and flown over to the sand-spit to learn survival skills and hunt. In addition to the comings and goings of the magnificent and regal peregrines, the vultures have been coming in twice a day to visit the old nest site. No black downy chicks have shown up. It is just speculation that they might be there. Bob said they could hatch late in the season because there would be higher attrition rate among other young juvenile birds of all breeds. The vultures would be the clean up crew. We’ll keep watching.
Last Saturday I went up to work at the Coastal Discovery Fair for Friends of the Elephant Seals. At the fair, I met Marcelle who mentioned that a peregrine had been brought into Pacific Wildlife Care on June 26. It had been injured, so I just had to find out what the details were to pass them on to you. Bob mentioned that peregrines who have broken wings are usually from miscalculated kills, hunting accidents, jousting, sparring and collisions with power lines and guy wires.
A few days later after a long conversation with Jeri Roberts, I learned that it was a juvenile female falcon found by a boater on the bayside of the sand-spit. It may have been one of our four chicks from the south side of the rock not “Solo” from the north side, who Bob has seen frequently over the past few days. This injured bird had fallen into the water with a broken wing. More carefully examined, it had a left eye abrasion. Pacific Wildlife Care decided to splint the wing because it was the ulna that was broken and could be strapped to the larger bone, the radius. No pinning of the ulna was necessary. Bones in these young birds knit quickly. The peregrine was confined to a small carrier, something an extremely athletic bird doesn’t like at all, but it had to be done so the broken bone would knit. She had her vision limited with a falconer’s hood. So as soon as possible, she’ll be moved into a small flight cage. They then gradually move the bird up to a larger cage when they think it is safe to do so. It’s a delicate balancing act confining the peregrine to have the wing heal and keeping it from becoming depressed from lack of space. Consider an Olympic athlete having a broken bone and being restricted severely until it heals!
She weighed 930 grams on arrival and now weighs 1009 grams. We think she is doing quite well. Average weight for females: 825-1094grams and for males: 550-647grams
At the end of our conversation, I asked her if I would be able to take a photo. “No,” said she. Since this type bird is very territorial and easily upset, it wouldn’t be a good idea. Jeri said that she cautiously feeds this young female so as to not upset her, but she did take a cell phone photo very cautiously for you to see. Can’t see the wing wrap though. We’ll keep in touch, plan to see and photograph her when possible and, of course, see her released! ~Heather
Video by Bob Isenberg
Things that I haven’t seen. The young falcons for the last 5-6 weeks. I know they come back to the rock in the evening because I see were they have been roosting. It’s a set of five holes in a diagonal line lower on the face of the rock. Another thing is the adult falcons have not taken a young gull in six days, just small shorebirds. The young gulls are growing rapidly. Their larger size and weight could be a factor here. Also, no deliveries of prey to the sand-spit. One more thing, no young vulture chicks yet. Although I see one adult everyday fight its way through the screaming nesting gulls to get to the old nest site. With this much determination and taking the abuse, there has to be something up there I haven’t seen yet.
From observation, I have seen a significant size difference. They are getting big, almost equal to the size of the adult, losing their spots and their feathers are pushing out from the down and getting long.
I do a lot of observation sitting at the rock here in Morro Bay, mostly when falcons are not entertaining me. I move the spotting scope to young gulls and other birds just so I have something to show when … Continue reading