JAIL CHICK #3 IS OKAY!

MCC Fledgling 3I woke up at about 4:30am this morning, very anxious about the remaining MCC chick. I rolled out of bed, tossed some clothes on and tip-toed out the door, pet carrier in hand. The closer I got to the jail, the more I worried that the MCC chick had somehow ended up on the ground or was injured somewhere.

But, I needn’t have worried! The chick perched upright and strong on the same sill at the Men’s Hotel. She perked every time a pigeon or gull flew by, watching the thing with keen interest, but not yet ready to take off after it. I got my binocs out and after five minutes, spotted both Hercules and Max on nearby ledges.

After about an hour and a half, I went back home for a quick shower before work. When I arrived at the museum, I stopped in to update Mary. As I prepared to leave her office, Lincoln Park zoo called, so I loitered in order to hear the prognosis. After the call, Mary told me that the chick had a keel bone injury – possibly a break. Although that isn’t a good injury to have, the chick seemed to be doing very well and the vet felt quite hopeful that with proper medical treatment and a nice, cushy rehab, she’d be just fine. We’ll all keep our fingers crossed on that!!

When I got to my desk, I sent an email out to the good folks at the EPA first thing. The response was immediate – I got a number of emails from people saying they saw her and she looked fine and telling me they’d keep their eyes on her. Great!

Dawn Smith stopped by the museum around ten to pick up the gigantic net she’d loaned me, so I filled her in too. She was headed home from Flynt Creek and told me she planned to stop by and check on chick #3 on her way.

“I have to get my chick fix!” she said. “I don’t think I’m going to get St. Michael’s babies this year!”

Her birds, Ballistic and Hops, are STILL sitting on eggs, probably a renest – hard to know what will happen with that one. At any rate, I was happy to know that the jail chick would have another visitor and wellness check coming her way as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go down to the jail until after work. I had a busy day scheduled in the insect department with three new interns thrown into the mix. As well, Mary and I were going to Calumet to check on a nest in the early afternoon.

Calumet Peregrine BridgesWe left for Calumet at around 11am. It took about a half hour to get to the pair of bridges, one railway and one regular traffic, on which a pair of peregrine had been spotted. Things were pretty quiet, but shortly after we got the scope set up, we spotted one juvenile laying in the sun on the railway bridge.

Both bridges are vertical lift bridges. I have a feeling the railway bridge stays up most of the time, while the regular traffic bridge stays down. The peregrines nested in one of the support girders, which had holes in either side for easy entrance/exit. Directly below the nest, where the juvenile now rested, lay the tracks, which offered a wide, flat strip, perfect for fledgling landings and take-offs.

The fledgling looked very good. We settled in to wait for the parents, eager to see them make a visit to the nesting site as it would be the best opportunity to see if there was more than one chick. I decided to take a walk around to the other side of the road, under the inaccessible train track bridge, to see if I saw anything. I saw some prey debris, but am happy to report no signs of fledging gone wrong.

Peregrine SillhouetteBy the time I got back to the other side, one adult was cruising in from the west. It landed on the nest girder and dropped down inside the hole. Unfortunately, it was instantly swallowed in deep shadow, but we could see it’s sillhouette as its head bobbed a few times – feeding a chick? Preening? After a bit more time, it quieted into a napping posture.

After awhile, another adult came in. It landed way, way up on the regular traffic bridge and proceeded to pull a bird out from a cache. It ate a bit and then flew towards the nesting site! Oh good! It landed near the juvenile and much chattering ensued, most of it out of our sightline. The adult in the nest above roused to watch for a bit, but then settled back in to nap some more.

After lunch, the juvenile and adult below found good spots in the sun and closed their eyes too – nap time for the entire family!

Peregrines on Calumet RR Bridge“I’d have to say that there’s only one chick,” Mary said, packing up her scope. “But, one chick is better than none! And it looks good. I’ll come down and check on it again in a few days.”

Mary drove me back to Chicago to the museum before getting on the road home. I spent the rest of my afternoon catching up on insect stuff and reading the many updates on the MCC girl. At about 2pm, I got email from Don at the EPA saying that the chick had finally moved from the narrow window ledge to the much more expansive fire escape, which is EXACTLY where I’d hoped she’d go. Good!

At 3:30pm, I got several emails from the EPA saying that it appeared she was gone. I could only sit at my desk and hope she’d made another short, successful flight!

I arrived at the garage at about 4:45pm. As the EPA folks had reported, the chick wasn’t on the fire escape, so I wandered around looking for her. As I stood chatting with a security guard in the area, I saw one of the MCC adults fly over with a cuckoo in its talons. It passed over the federal garage on Clark/Congress a few times, looking down towards the roof. Finally, it landed briefly and I heard the chick! The adult took off, trying to bait the chick with the cuckoo.

Parental ConcernSean showed up about then and we both watched the chick take flight, pursuing the adult. She landed awkwardly on a narrow window ledge and took off again quickly. She flew VERY very well, although she could use some work on her landings and landing site selection.

We watched her for some time as she chased the adults around. Finally, we lost sight of her on the ground, so went up onto the garage top. We spotted her on the roof of one of the buildings next door to the Men’s Hotel. She didn’t look injured at all – perched comfortably on the edge of a chimney. We spotted an adult furiously plucking another bird over on the AT&T building and a bit later, it sailed down and fed the chick.

So! With any hope, this one will do the whole fledging thing all on its own!

I’ll keep running by there before and after work for the next week or so, just to make sure, but I’d just really like to see this last one go very, very well, even if we don’t get the chance to band her!

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~ by Steph on June 23, 2008.