Falcon Cam – July 9, 2018: Fledglings Aloft!

By LIZ TOTH

July 9, 2018

The chicks have taken their first flights!  It is likely the two chicks that hatched first were the first to fly.  One chick remains on the ledge on the south side of the building which could indicate his flying skills are not as strong as the others yet.

The fledglings are now as large as their parents even though they are only about 6 weeks old.  Fledgling falcons have longer flight feathers than the adults to make it easier to learn the flying skills needed to become an excellent hunter in their first year.  The parents will continue to provide food for the fledglings.  Dayton was seen dropping off food for the youngster on the south ledge this morning.

This image shows the ledges on the east side of the Liberty Savings Tower with the nest box circled in red:

Liberty Bank Nest

Liberty Savings Tower

These ledges and the other buildings around provide good landing spots for short flights for the young peregrine falcons.  Since they have taken their first flights they are referred to as fledglings but will be dependent on their parents for food until they can hunt for themselves (about 4 weeks later).

Once the fledglings are adults and experienced flyers they can fly at about 60 mph when flying level and they are known to reach speeds of up to 200 mph when hunting in a stoop, or dive. Occasionally they will make it all the way down to the ground and land safely but are not skilled enough to make it up to a higher location from the ground.  If this happens the young peregrines may need help to make it to a higher location.

The young peregrines need close observation in downtown Dayton during fledging and will be monitored over the next several weeks.  The nest box, as viewed on the Falcon Cam, will often be empty until they can increase their flying skills and may return to the nest box as a safe location while they practice hunting with their parents.

Liz Toth is the Associate Curator of Live Animals at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

 

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Falcon Cam Update – June 14, 2018

By LIZ TOTH

June 14, 2018

The chicks are growing very fast.  They are now about three weeks old.  At this age, the diameter of their legs is full size so in the past they were banded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife at this age.

In 2015 they were removed, or “downlisted”, from the list of threatened species in Ohio.  The Division of Wildlife will continue to monitor select peregrine falcons nests in Ohio.  The Dayton nest is one nest of a sample monitoring program to assess the health of the peregrine population.

Data collected includes the presence of the falcon pair at the site, whether or not eggs are laid, how many of the eggs hatch, and how many chicks are successfully fledged at the nest.  Fledging is when the chicks take their first flights around six weeks old.

The two chicks that hatched earlier than their siblings already have dark flight feathers showing through their downy fluff.  By six weeks old the chicks will be as large as their parents.

The three chicks seem to be doing well.  It is hard to say why the fourth egg did not hatch, but we have only had four chicks three seasons in the 16 years of the Dayton Falcon Cam.

Now the chicks are much larger and are able to move around inside the nest box.Growing13June2018

One week ago they were unable to move very far and stayed grouped together:

Liz Toth is the Associate Curator of Live Animals at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Falcon Cam – May 25, 2018

by LIZ TOTH

The falcons have been spending a lot of time wiggling on the eggs to press the bare skin on the chest, called the brood patch, down on the eggs to keep them warm.  In species where only the female incubates the eggs the male doesn’t develop a brood patch.  Male and female peregrines both have brood patches because they share incubation of the eggs.  If you watch the Falcon Cam you’ll see the adult peregrines rock side-to-side as they settle on thHatchdayisbusye nest.  This rocking opens the feathers that have curled over the brood patch and puts their skin in contact with the eggs.

The chicks should hatch very soon.  As the date for possible hatching draws closer we can expect to see the female arranging the stones around the scrape as she prepares for hatching.  Just prior to hatching she may hear the chicks inside the eggs and seem more alert.  The female has been very alert today indicating hatching should be soon.

Liz Toth is Associate Curator of Live Animals at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

So You Want to See the Total Solar Eclipse This August

By JOE CHILDERS

Chances are you’ve heard that a rare astronomical event is happening on August 21; a total eclipse of the Sun.  Not only is it rare (there hasn’t been one visible from the Miami Valley since 831 CE), it is also spectacular!  Indeed, eclipse expert Fred Espenak,  who has been under the moon’s shadow more than twenty times, says “In rating natural wonders, on a scale of 1 to 10 a total solar eclipse is a million.”

 

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Total Solar Eclipse In France 1999   (Luc Viatour/wwwLucnix.be)

 

From Dayton this August we’ll see a deep partial eclipse—close, but no cigar.  We will get to see a total (or totality) solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, but if you’re impatient or don’t want to risk bad weather, you’ll want to travel down to Kentucky or Tennessee to see this year’s eclipse.

Here are three things you need to know:

  1. Do not expect to find a hotel, campground, or any other kind of accommodations whatsoever within driving distance of the eclipse path.

When it’s been forty years since the last American total solar eclipse, people who have been looking forward their entire lives to this got their reservations in early—up to three years ago!  So plan to sleep in your car, if at all.

  1. Do expect that traffic will be horrible that morning.

Everyone else who realized at this late date that there are no accommodations available will be driving in the morning of.  The eclipse happens around 2:30 p.m. or so in the afternoon, varying a little by location. You want to get into the path of totality many hours before that, lest you risk being stuck in traffic outside of totality.

  1. Do know that the eclipse is definitely worth taking a day off work, pulling the kids out of school, and putting up with nasty logistics to go see in person!

One cannot overemphasize how impressive a total solar eclipse is.  Photographs like this one do not do it justice.  Everyone has a limited number of opportunities to see a total solar eclipse in their lifetime, and everyone who sees one remembers it for the rest of their life!

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                        Solar Eclipse Map Across Kentucky                       (GreatEclipse.Com © Michael Zeiler 2014)

So my suggestion is this: plan to drive down in the pre-dawn hours of August 21, map out state highways that are less likely than interstates to be congested, and plan to see the eclipse from a box-store parking lot or a similar easily-accessed location.  But if you decide to stay in the Miami Valley, come on down to the Boonshoft Museum that day for all sorts of fun, eclipse activities for our partial eclipse!

Visit https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com for more on this topic.

Falcon Cam Update – April 21, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

The falcon eggs hatched!

On Saturday, April 15, egg shells could be seen on the ledge, but the female spent almost all her time on the nest preventing a view of what was beneath her. By Wednesday, we were able to get a good view of the chicks and all four eggs have successfully hatched!

shellstoside15April2017A

Falcon Shells to the Side

The chicks seem to be doing well, and both parents have been very attentive, feeding and keeping the chicks warm.  When they are not able to be seen they are safely tucked under the female.  She broods the chicks, keeping them warm with her body until they are about a week old and they can maintain the correct body temperature on their own

She has special featherless brooding patches that allow the warm skin of her body to press right up against the chicks and keep them warm.  This behavior is easy to see from above.  It looks like she is wiggling quickly back and forth, but she is snuggling her brooding patches down on the chicks.

Falcon Cam Update – March 30, 2017

By LIZ TOTH

Surprise! The female falcon laid her eggs out of view on a ledge located on the southeast side of the building.  The falcons had been visiting the nest box during the first two weeks of March and even built a scrape, a loosely constructed nest, but ultimately chose a different location to lay their eggs.  Four eggs were noticed on this ledge on March 24.

The earliest date eggs have been laid in the past was March 17 so all eyes were on the nest box starting on this date.  During this time the falcons were mysteriously absent in the box but still present around the Liberty Savings Tower.

Upon further inspection of the building, the eggs were found on a ledge on the side of the building that can only be reached by rappelling down from the roof.  The eggs seem to be in good condition and the falcons are tending to the eggs.  The falcons have laid eggs on this type of ledge before but unfortunately, a lack of protection from the weather caused the eggs to fail on the ledge in 2011.

A drain is present on the ledge to remove rainwater but there is no protection from the weather from the top like there is in the nest box.  We are in the process of attempting to point a camera down on the nest so the eggs can be monitored with little disturbance to the nest.  Check back for updates on the falcons and their eggs.

Summer is a Great Time to Be a Member!

We’re counting down the minutes until summer begins and we bet you are too. There’s so much to do: plan your vacations, summer camps, family outings, activities, and more. The list could go on forever, even though the summer season is only three months long. If your goals is to have some great summer family experiences that keep the kiddos happy — and probably more importantly, keep you under budget — check out a Dayton Society of Natural History Membership!

New and current Members can maximize their Memberships this summer with so many things to do, see, and experience in just three short months:

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The cost of a Museum Membership, transportation, and snacks (because everyone needs snacks!), can get you an entire summer of entertainment, family memories, and fun.

Here are some Dayton Society of Natural History summer highlights you won’t want to miss (bonus: everything listed below is either FREE for Members or Museum Members receive a discount).

New Exhibitions: Both the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery & SunWatch will welcome new exhibitions this summer. On June 4 the Amazing Butterflies opens at the Boonshoft Museum and Johnny Appleseed opens at SunWatch later on during the summer season. Members enjoy a special sneak preview of Amazing Butterflies from 9:00 a.m. – Noon on June 4 before it opens to the public.

Special Events: From Movie Nights at the Museum to the Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow hosted at SunWatch by the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, there are some stellar events that you won’t want to miss this summer, here are some of the highlights:

Fort Ancient: Summer Solstice Sunrise on June 19, Nature Hike on July 9, Archaeology Day on July 16.

SunWatch: Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow on June 25-26, Kids’ Days throughout the summer.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: Movie Nights at the Museum (A Bug’s Life in June and Frozen in August), Red White & Boonshoft on July 4, and our Meerkat Mob’s Birthday on July 30.

To learn more or purchase a Membership, visit www.boonshoftmuseum.org.