Friday, December 30, 2011

...some don't

Although early arrival at a breeding cliff can be risky, it has its benefits too...there's usually no objection from other potential breeders, at least for a while.  Eventually though there's conflict at some level.  Most often disputes are short, vocal and without contact.  On occasion though a brouhaha ends in injury or worse.
7|H captured with leg injury in 2005, returned to breed in 2006 (A. Franke)
Territory holder 03 B killed by intruder in 2007 (A. Franke)
Life time reproductive success is real currency here, and where adult investment  (see weight loss) in offspring is within reason, eggs and young are closely guarded day and night. 

Female falcon threatening an unknown intruder (RECONYX)

The margins are narrow and the investment considerable.  All things being equal, adults arrive in late May, lay a full clutch of eggs by the middle of June, hatch their young in mid-July.  Rearing a brood of nestlings lasts 'til the last week of August, and fledglings remain near the cliff for another 3 weeks.   Birds leave for their wintering territories in the middle of September.

Although short, August nights are cool at 70 degrees north (RECONYX)

Some make it...some don't.

Remains of 8|U and 13 B on nest ledge, fate of  8|W (3rd chick) not known (A. Franke)
Some get a second chance...

August 20, 53 C at 35 days old on her nest ledge near Iglulik, NU.
Barry Robinson banded 53 C (and her 3 siblings) at 27 days of age on August 12, 2011.  She weighed 792g.  Three months later (November 11), she was recaptured in Mexico by Oscar Diaz.  She weighed 920g.

53 C just prior to capture in Mexico, Nov 11 (O. Diaz)
Once in hand, Oscar (a falconer and bander) realized that 53 C had frounce (Trichomoniasis), likely as a result of consuming an infected pigeon or dove.  The infection had advanced sufficiently to cause watering and swelling of her eye, and although necrotic lesions were apparent in her mouth, they were still quite small.

53 C immediately after capture in Mexico (O. Diaz)
Oscar treated the infection, and a month later began flying and hunting with 53 C.  She hunts at 940g, and will be released in April in time to migrate.

Oscar Diaz with 53 C 

It's not often you see a blue banded falconry bird, good to know she is in good hands.