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Richmond Falcon Cam

Week One Progress Report

  • May 12th, 2021

It has been exactly one week since the first three chicks hatched and five days since the fourth chick hatched. All of the chicks are developing normally, including the last-to-hatch chick which is developmentally two days behind its three siblings and thus noticeably smaller in size. Despite the breeding pair having little to no experience raising chicks, the adults do not appear to have any trouble caring for the newly-hatched brood.

Four peregrine falcon chicks sitting next to each other in a nest box

Four Richmond falcon chicks —the last-to-hatch chick is on the left with its wing atop one of its siblings.

Although the adult female (95/AK) has been doing the majority of the brooding and feeding, the adult male (59/BM) has been regularly hunting and delivering prey items to her which she then feeds out to the chicks. In the past week, we have observed her feeding several blue jays, yellow-billed cuckoos, rock doves, and even a red-eyed vireo. If you are hoping to get a prolonged look at the adult male with his chicks, your best bet is to be watching the cam early in the morning between 5:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. as he can often be seen brooding and feeding the chicks at that time.

Adult female feeding the chicks.

Adult female feeding the chicks. The last-to-hatch chick is on the left receiving food from the female and is distinguishable from the other three chicks by its slightly smaller size.

Some viewers may have noticed that at times the chicks appear to have a prominent lump in the area of the throat, atop their breasts and below their heads. This lump is their crop, which is a small, expandable pouch in the digestive tract that temporarily stores food before it enters the stomach. After feedings, when the crop is full, it appears well-rounded and large. Once full, the chicks will often sleep for the next few hours as food is digested and moved from the crop to the stomach. As this occurs, the crop will slowly shrink in size and become less apparent until the chick receives its next meal.

Four chicks with well rounded crops signifying full bellies being bed by an adult peregrine falcon

Large, well-rounded crops can be easily observed on chicks during and after feedings.

The chicks falling asleep on top of each other after finishing eating

Adult falcon observes chicks as they sleep immediately following a large meal.

The chicks are growing rapidly and have substantially increased in size, overall alertness, and ability to sit up in a relatively stable position — all within the first week since hatching! Over the course of the next few days, they will begin to develop a second coat of down which will further insulate them from heat loss meaning they will not need to be brooded as regularly by the adults. Be on the lookout for additional behaviors like preening, stretching of wings and legs, and even beginning to move about the nest box, which will likely start happening soon.

The adult female brooding her sleeping chicks

Adult female sleeps while brooding the chicks beneath her.