Great Spirit Bluff Falcons

Great Spirit Bluff Falcons

March 22, 2013 at 4:01am on Great Spirit Bluff Falcons 2,418 followers

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Great Spirit Bluff Falcons

Great Spirit Bluff Falcons

Pets, Animals - Birds

2,418 followers 2,622,628 views

6.30/14: Mac Visits the Cedar Snag
Mac joined us on the cedar snag this morning for a serendipitous visit. GSBDweller was panning the snag and Macintosh showed up at just the right moment. He gave us a nice view of his juvie colors and left us showing off his new found flight skills. We're so grateful all has turned out well so far for our lone hatch this season.
Macintosh Visits Cedar Snag


6/29/14: Mac Flies to Bluff, Parents Deliver Food
Macintosh First Seen on Bluff


6/22/14: Mac Seen Again This Morning
Mac Goes Out of View

6/21/14: Mac Seen in Tree Below
On Saturday, a viewer noticed movement in a tree below. GSBDweller zoomed in on the area noted, and found Macintosh clinging to the branches of a dead tree. A while later, we were able to witness Michelle bringing him food and feeding him. He appears to be healthy, uninjured, and doing well.
Michelle Feeds Mac in Tree

6/17/14: Early Fledge Again
At approximately 5:45pm, Macintosh fell from the nest box while attempting to jump to the perch to escape black flies or gnats. Michelle was right there and swooped down after him. We heard him below, vigorously begging food from Mom and Dad, who appear to be responding. This is a repeat of what we saw happen last year, when at least 3 of our 4 eyasses survived the fall and were seen actively flying within a couple of weeks. We will hope for the same success this year.
Mac Falls Trying to Escape Gnats

6/7/14: It's a Boy!
Today our lone eyas was banded and officially named Macintosh after the apple orchards surrounding this bluff top area. The banding schedule was moved up due to afternoon storm predictions and already eroding conditions that would not likely improve. All went smoothly, the box was cleaned, gravel replaced and swabbed with vanilla to repel gnats and flies. Mac was placed back in the box after a brief banding process was calm and relaxed in his familiar surroundings.

Gender: Male
Name: Macintosh
Midwest Peregrine database id: E/70
USFWS band id: 1156-14940

5/21/14: Michelle removes 3rd non-viable egg
Unseasonably cool April weather

Check out this temperature data for this April. This is likely what happened to Travis and Michelle's eggs. She laid them between April 4th and April 13th. Between April 4th and April 30th there were 6 nights in the 20s, 13 nights in the 30s, and 6 nights in the low 40s. There were also cold nights in early May. Travis struggled to keep the eggs covered (males are 30% smaller than females and cannot thermoregulate).

5/18/14: We have a hatch at 12:56 a.m.
Check out the first feeding video highlight.
First 2014 feeding

5/9/14: One non-viable egg breaks up.

4/14/14: Michelle and Travis have produced 5 eggs this year.

Egg 1 laid at 7.27 am April 4
Egg 2 laid at 1.10 pm April 6
Egg 3 laid at 7:47 pm April 8
Egg 4 laid at 4.36 am April 11
Egg 5 laid at 12:57 pm April 13



The property on which these falcons choose to make their home is protected with a conservation easement held and enforced by the Minnesota Land Trust. Any contributions donated on this site will go towards protecting additional habitat for these marvelous raptors.
 photo HoweAerialIIIOct2006Cropped.jpg


About the Falcons: Blogs, photos, and video
RRP Blog: Peregrine Falcon FAQ
RRP Blog: Michelle, Travis, and Peregrine Questions
Diagrams of the Nest Box
RRP Facebook Page: News about the GSB falcons and other birds
RRP Forum - Chat about the Great Spirit Bluff Falcons
GSBDweller's Photobucket

Video History


First feeding 5/3/12


03/29/2012 Michelle Lays 3rd Egg at 6:54 p.m. (around 3:58 into the video)









About the GSB Project



The Raptor Resource Project installed a nest box here after falcons tried nesting on a ledge that was accessible to raccoon. The box was adopted by a pair of falcons in 2005. Young falcons have fledged here every year since. Great Spirit Bluff is owned by the Howe family. Jonathon Howe, son of John and Susan, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 479 in Eden Prairie, MN. He needed a project to advance to Eagle rank and was interested in working with falcons. Jonathon and his father designed and built four special nestboxes with lids that flip up and cover the box. These boxes have two wonderful features: they are accessible from the top, which means we don't have to lean over a roof to get the babies and (when open) they keep young falcons from jumping out. Human banders and young falcons are safer as a result.

Jonathon also helped plan the deployment of the camera here. He and troop members and friends pulled the cable to the edge of the cliff, dug the cable trench, and buried the cable. We are very pleased with the results.

Here is a link to a Wisconsin Public Radio podcast/mp3 about the project. Eagle Scout Helps Develop Falcon Cam


Why don't falcons build a nest?
Peregrine falcons do not bring nesting material to an area to build a nest. Instead, they make what is called a scrape or shallow depression in existing gravel or other debris by lying down and pushing back with a foot. They naturally nest on cliff areas. Gravel retains heat which is beneficial during incubation.

When will the falcons lay eggs?
They will most likely lay in late March or early April. 2014 incubation began 4/11

How long does it take the eggs to hatch?
Generally, the eggs should start hatching 33-34 days after the third egg is laid. This year, Michelle laid 5 eggs, so incubation begins after the 4th egg. We expect eggs to begin hatching around May 14th-15th

How long from pip to actual hatch?
Studies show the time from pip to hatch to be anywhere from 50-72 hours. According to Glenn R. Stewart Coordinator at the Predatory Bird Research Group at Long Marine Lab, U of Cal. Santa Cruz, "The chick has a "hatching muscle" in its neck that swells with lymph and begins to spasm toward the time for hatching. In doing so, the beak with its sharp egg tooth at the tip is forced through the membrane separating the air cell from the embryo. The chick pokes its beak into the air cell and begins the transition from gas exchange to lung breathing. With the beginning of lung breathing, it is able to cheep even though there is no break in the shell. Soon, the air cell fills with carbon dioxide and the chick's hatching muscle again spasms forcing the egg tooth through the shell creating a star-shaped break or "pip" that allows air to enter the shell. The chick rests for a good long time, cheeping from time to time and hearing Mother's vocalizations of encouragement in return. Eventually, and with gaining strength, the chick begins cutting its way around the equator of the shell by pulling itself along using little vestigial claws located at the alula (thumb) feather to turn inside its cramped shell. All of this takes about fifty hours-they do not simply shrug off the shell and erupt into the outside world."

When and who bands the young falcons?
Falcons are banded around 3 weeks of age. Bob Anderson and his team will rappel down the bluff to collect the eyasses for banding.

When do the young falcons start flying?
They will fledge at roughly 40 days of age.

How can I tell the male and female apart?
In general, female peregrines are about 30% larger than the males. In our nest, we have also noted some distinguishing markings. Michelle has a small amount of white feathers just above her beak, her head is more broad, and she has a bull horns marking in the white feathers on the side of her neck. Travis has all dark feathering above his beak, a smaller rounder head, and a brighter yellow beak.

How old are the pair and how long have they been nesting here?
Travis is 11 years old (a 2003 hatch from Lee's Bluff Lynxville WI - band 06/N). Michelle is 9 years old (a 2005 hatch from Maasen Bluff, WI - band P/87). We identified this pair at Great Spirit Bluff in 2012, but they could have been nesting at this site as far back as 2007. The last previous recorded band reading on a different female at this nest was Katrinka in 2006.


2011 Great Spirit Bluff Banding Event





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