Meeting Tom and Identifying Hercules

" prey to the right."What a good morning for me! As I arrived on the garage roof at 8am this morning, I saw the female flying towards me. She landed on one of the garage’s lighting fixtures and peered down at me. I’d never been this close to the female! I set up my spotting scope as quickly and quietly as I could, sure she would leave any second. But no! She stayed!

She gave me three long and beautiful minutes to view her leg band. Long enough to confirm, confirm and confirm what I saw, write it in my journal, confirm again, then take her picture.

" prey to the center."My journal: “b/r, W/*D” – This translates to black over red band, which is an old color scheme for the Midwest US, and W over a D on its side to the right. I couldn’t wait to tell Mary.

When I got to work, Mary and I excitedly looked this band number up on the Midwestern Peregrine Database. As I’d expected, the larger of the pair is a female! Her name is Bern.

And here is where I would tell you something about Bern. However. If you go to the post for May 25th, you will find an entry regarding a mistake I made reading the band. After reviewing my photographs, I noticed that one picture yielded a clear enough look at the female’s band that we had photographic evidence to back up what I’d spotted through my scope. And that’s when I realized I’d inverted the number.

The actual leg band number reads: b/r, *D/W. The female is not “Bern” but rather is named “Hercules”. You can read her history at the bottom of this post. Personally, I liked the name “Bern” better, but c’est la vie.

I decided to edit all of the posts mentioning the name “Bern” so that people reading this for the first time wouldn’t become hideously confused For those that started reading this journal early, before rewrites, edits, etc… – I called the MCC female “Madeline” early on, after the little girl in the Madeline books. I simply found it easier to type than “MCC female peregrine” and, to be honest, a bit more personal. Then, when I misidentified the bands, she went by Bern. Her correct name is Hercules. These are all AKAs for the same bird, not three different females.

Sorry if that’s been confusing.

" prey to the left.  Back to the right."A number of bird carcasses littered the roof of the garage today. There has been a change in the remains since last week. The bodies I found last week were stripped of the breast meat and innards, basically hollowed out. The back, wings, tail and legs remained intact. Today, the remains consisted only of the bottom half of the bird. I’ve taken to calling these “half birds”. Since they are hard to explain, I’ll try to take a picture of a good one and put it up later.

It seems that the MCC parents take these “half birds” back to the nest for the chicks after eating the top half themselves. Whenever Hercules, particularly, leaves the nest, she carries the scant remains of one of these half birds with her. Often, she drops it on the garage roof, which is nice for me, as I can then get a look at what they prefer to eat.

Hercules jumped off the light post, soared down and out of scope range and then came back up with a starling, which she tore apart with great abandon while perching in her favorite spot on the Monadnock. She took some of the bird (the lower half, I’m sure) back to the nest.

James ambled up as I waited for Hercules to reemerge. A tall fellow in a uniform and carrying a broom and dustpan followed him. James introduced him as “Tom, from maintenance.” He seemed very nice and the three of us chatted while watching the nest. Finally, after 20 minutes, Hercules popped out of the nest and soared east and out of sight. Tom seemed very impressed with her.

Welcome to falcon watching, Tom! The falcons and I have yet another new friend!


~ by Steph on May 10, 2006.

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