Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

I've been watching the kestrels of Sugar Hill all this spring. Lots of signs of nesting, but no fledglings as of yet. Both the father and mother are active hunters. A fascinating picture is emerging of how these birds exploit different levels of the food chain in order to provide for their young. On the one hand, the male easily plucks house sparrows, finches, mice and the occasional escapee, warbler or insect. He also has a taste for young pigeons and starlings. The male often will sit in ambush and snare prey as it passes by.

He gives a stretch before heading out.

Meanwhile, outside the scrape, the female was also laying in wait. Suddenly a dumb-ass pigeon flew by and landed directly below the falcon.

She watched intently as it stumbled around the roof.

She gently pivoted...

and dove on the bird!

After loosing them on the roof, both emerged overhead as the kestrel took a final turn at the pidgeon. Both then flew off in various arcs. I think the females plan was to pin the pidgeon to the roof and administer a killing blow. Only in such a manner could she down such a large foe. A few minutes later she returned and promptly took a breathtaking run at a starling!
At the cathedral, the parents stood vigil over the nursery.



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