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Eyes to the Skies

A Falcon Fledge Watch at the Central Terminal – Buffalo, NY on 6/25/11

From Rochester Falcon Watcher Carol P.

Since we don’t have a fledge watch of our own here in Rochester, a few of us decided to help out in Buffalo. Rochester Falcon Watchers Kathy O, Dana, Dan and Carol P. decided to head up early to watch the young ones at Central Terminal. There were 4 juvies there. Two fledged males; Lehigh and Commodore & two unfledged females; Phoebe Snow (P-S) and Chesapeake (Chessie). We planned on spending the whole day here, since that’s where we all agreed we were needed most.

We arrived at 7:30 am. It was cold (low 60’s), cloudy and windy, very windy. Sage, the Buffalo Watcher, was concerned, since there had been a big party there the evening before. Our first order of business was to find all four juvies.

Immediately we found the adults Stash and Stella. They were flying around and vocalizing. Also, vocalizing were the two young, unfledged females that were still at the nest box, wings spread and flapping like crazy. Ok, now for the boys. Where could they be?

Ah, ha! There was one on the ledge of the lower building below the nest box. A green band let us know this was Commodore. OK, 3 out of 4 wasn’t bad. But where was Lehigh?

We set up Watcher headquarters in the far corner, giving us a good view of the tower and lower building. The winds were strong and they never let up all day. Evidenced by my wind burned face this morning.

We were worried about Lehigh, but since Stash and Stella didn’t seem concerned, we decided to just keep watch. We always take our clue from the parents. If there is a young one in trouble, they will usually let you know by their behavior.

For the next few hours, we watched Stash and Stella fly around the tower putting on quite a show. Flight training was in session! Both girls were paying very close attention. Wings out, flap, flap, flap, run, flap! Even Commodore was getting in on the action. Now and then either parent would land next to a young one and kak encouragement. It was quite entertaining to us below.

At 11:30 am, to our surprise, although we suspected he might be on the flat lower roof, Lehigh launched himself from the roof and was immediately swept up by the winds. With Stella stuck on his tail and trying to give him some lift, he headed off to the left (I’m not sure about directions here yet- lol). He tried to turn, but it was too much for him. We lost him behind the tree line and Stella returned to the tower. He had been heading for a nearby warehouse and we were sure that is where he landed. Kathy O and Dana jumped in the car and drove over to check it out. A few moments later my cell phone rang and yes, Lehigh was just fine. He had landed safely on the warehouse roof and was within view of the Central Terminal. Lou joined the watch at this point.

At 12:45 pm, Lehigh took off and headed back towards us. Come on Lehigh! You can do it! He flapped and he flapped and made his way back to the tower, gaining altitude against the high wind. He almost made a ledge, but just missed, clinging to the brickwork like a bat! Mom was just to his left and dad above. After a few moments of clinging, he spread his wings, flew out from the building and immediately back to a ledge. Yes! Soon after this, Commodore took off and landed on the same ledge as his brother.

Now we could relax again. NOT! The girls continued to flap, flap, flap. That’s when Chessie slipped from the perch and fell with her back to us. She made a valiant effort to fly, but it was too early. This was a premature fledge. Both parents followed her and so did I. I’m not as fast as I used to be, but I ran and tried to keep her in view. She was sinking fast (like my heart) and I lost her behind the trees, right of the tower. Ah, man! I really hate when that happens.

The Rochester Watchers sprung into action. We spread out by car and foot, checking every roof top and lawn. It is residential around the CT. There was a lot of tall grass and trees. She could be anywhere. We watched the behavior of adults. They weren’t much help, circling around the tower and sometimes further out. We watched and listened to the wildlife around us. A Robin would probably be upset by a young Falcon in its’ territory. Crow would probably be curious. Nothing!

After an hour, we met back at CT and went over everything we saw, including pictures that were taken. Lou had the last picture of Chessie before she disappeared behind the trees. We reenacted what happened and looked at Lou’s picture for clues. We zeroed in on a small group of trees and BINGO! There she was! Hanging on for dear life in the center of a very small tree that was blowing in the wind. After an hour and a half we found her! Thank goodness.

We backed off to a safe distance and watched as she continue to hang on, but it was too much for her. She released her grip and fluttered down to the ground. Chessie immediately started walking back towards the Central Terminal. Hey! If she couldn’t fly, why not walk!

For the next half hour, she walked and stretched out her wings, flapping and running. There was no way she was ready to fly yet and there was no way we were going to leave her on the ground. We all agreed that it was time to rescue her. We were joined by a couple of young men that had just made the trip from Westchester, Larry and I’m sorry that I forgot the other young man’s name. They were so excited and they asked if they could help. Of course they could.

We had the rescue box ready and Dana and I had our coats off. We all got into a circle and slowly approached Chessie. Dana was behind her and I was in front, trying to keep her attention on me. Closer, closer and Dana was finally able to gently grab her. Dana placed her in the box and we closed the top. She was safe!

I immediately got on the phone and tried to get in touch with Sage. When I couldn’t, I called Joyce and she was able to get Sage. Sage was having no luck getting in touch with the DEC for that area, so I called June Summers who said she would try to reach her DEC contacts and get back to me.

Meanwhile, we continuously spritzed Chessie to help keep her hydrated. Sage and Roger arrived and so did Martie, who had access to the Central Terminal bldg. At 5:21 pm, after talking to June and after talking to the group, we decided to return Chessie to the lower roof where her brothers had been earlier. Dana with Chessie and Roger & Martie, climbed the 5 stories (there is no electricity)to a panel that they opened to the lower roof. Dana was able to successfully release her onto the roof and quickly retreated into the building. They all returned letting us know that the release had been successful.

Chessie would not show herself, but we were sure she was safe where she was and that her parents could see her. I received a phone call from Jackie Walters, a DEC Wildlife Tech and explained everything to her. She was in total agreement with what we had done and was very thankful. Since Peregrines are endangered species, they are under the protection of the DEC.

Again, we thought all was well and that we could relax. We decided to finally get something to eat. Subs were ordered and enjoyed. No way were we leaving. Even Martie stayed to keep watch and gave us a quick tour of the inside of the Central Terminal. It’s gorgeous in there! Just beautiful. I had always wanted to see it.

Our day wasn’t complete just yet. All of a sudden someone yelled, she’s off! I thought it might be Chessie again, but no, it was her sister Phoebe Snow (P-S). We all watched as she flew to our left, wind behind her. Then she turned into the wind and gained a little altitude. Stella was by her side, guiding her to a safe landing on the same roof we had just released Chessie onto. The two sisters were together again!

P-S jumped up onto the ledge and flapped and jumped. We kept telling her to settle down with her sister for the night. Just before dark, she jumped down from ledge, where we could no longer see her. From that point forward, it was quiet.

When we left around 7 pm, the whole CT family was accounted for. The adults and the two male fledglings were high on the tower. Both females had fledged and were down on the lower roof below the nest box.

After two fledges and a rescue, a weary Rochester Falcon Watch team headed home. I had contacted Joyce and she told me that she and MAK would be continuing the CT Watch the next morning. That’s a whole other story and I’ll let them tell it. I was just happy to hear that Chessie had made it back to the nest box the next day after her rescue. 🙂

Here’s some pictures from our Falcon/Fledge Watch yesterday. No sign on needed. Enjoy!


2 Responses to “A Falcon Fledge Watch at the Central Terminal – Buffalo, NY on 6/25/11”

  1. Donna Says:

    Phew!!! What a day and what a rescue! Thanks for the report Carol!! Good job by all.

  2. Luckydog Says:

    What an exciting report! Thank goodness Chessie is okay.

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