Last, but certainly not least, I swung up to Broadway Bridge to get a sense of exactly where this family of peregrines is in the nesting process. From the train, I could see both parents slicing through the air around the bridge. Exiting the train, I caught both parents forming up and flying off high to the east, well out over Kingsbridge. At the bridge itself, it was quiet, save for the remains of some past meals (grackle),
and some future ones!
But then the loud cak-cak-cak-cak of juvenile peregrines filled the air!
One of the adults had brought in a pigeon and was feeding one of the youngsters!
Another juvy, screamed in frustration!
This went on for several minutes as I angled to get a better shot. The one youngster not being fed, flitted about in frustration.
I guess it had seen enough, and lit off!
I lost track of it as it hurtled through the bridgeworks. The parent that was feeding the other youngster then lit off too and took up a perch on the south tower.
It too assumed the "hot hawk" pose!
Suddenly, the male adult flew in with a freshly caught pigeon.
It began stripping the carcass, but did not offer any to the youngsters.
Much to my surprise, another juvy took off after the parent.
I watched as it tried to land by grabbing onto the cables that support the road deck. But it didnt seem to have a good grasp. Suddenly a 1 train crossed the bridge and I lost sight of the falcon. After what seemed an eternity, the train passed and I was just in time to see the young eyass flutter down to the busy road, directly in the path of oncoming traffic! Without hesitation I (but not before looking in both directions), I ran out after it and tried to shoo it off the road. But it wouldn't budge. I decided there was no other choice, but to handle the bird. Using my bookbag as a shield, I carefully reached under the bird from behind and secured its legs in my left hand. I then lifted the bird and ran to the walkway. I was at once exhilarated by this first contact, but also scarred for the bird. Luckily I was with film maker Adam Welz who has handled numerous raptors both back home in South Africa, but also here in the states. I handed the bird to Adam for proper release.
That's right...it doesnt get more urban than this!
After setting the bird down on the bridge railing,
it glared at us for about 5 minutes,
and lit off for a sheltered spot underneath the bridge.
It was getting late and the young falcon seemed to be settling in for the night. It began preening. We did not see it call for the parents who were clearly looking for it.
People always ask me, "Yojimbot, why do you spend so much of your time running all over the place, photographing birds?" This weekend, I believe I've answered that question once and for all.
I will never forget this experience and I would also like to underscore just how much these birds need our help. Not only were these three chicks unbanded, but numerous onlookers relayed stories to me about how the chicks were "all over the place" since fledging on Thursday, with one even perching on the McDonald's sign for the entire day as a crowd formed below. These birds in particular, and all nesting raptors in general, need our careful attention to ensure that they are not killed or stolen by the less than enlightened denizens of our fair City. Congratulations to all of the successful broods this year! Hopefully there will be more great news to report!