I got to the trail head around 4:40 and started hiking in.
Immediately ran into a couple who asked about all the gear I was carrying. I tell people I’m monitoring raptors since I don’t want to give away the location of peregrine nests. They reported a very large stick nest in a cave. They said someone told them it was a turkey vulture nest.
At 5:08, I spotted that familiar shape of a peregrine on the highest point of rocky outcroppeing.
Set up my scope:
very orange legs and talons (usually means a male, per nest
dark band of color below white neck area
large adult peregrine
Called Cheryl and watched for awhile. Cows came across the trail and
while I was watching them and holding back the dogs, the peregrine flew and I didn’t see where it went.
Moved farther down the trail
5:49 spotted another peregrine on top of another high point
yellow legs and talons
no dark band
wide malar stripes
stick nest to the left is a raven’s nest–ravens making noise and
sitting on the nest
5:57 bird flew, caught prey, flew to other side of canyon (my side)
but out of sight behind trees
2 men climbed rocks.
spotted bird in cave just below high point where malar striped bird had been
dark full hood
bird is out on outside lip of cave
back toward me so can’t see too much
bird getting restless
starts looking around and up, so I look up and on top is the second
bird (malar stripes, yellow legs)!
bird went back into cave out of sight
scratches head with orange right leg—band on right leg??
both peregrines still in place
starting to get dark in the canyon so I pack up and leave
I turn around one last time and the bird on top has flown (of course–you take your eyes off the bird and it disappears)
Now that I know where the cave is, next time I will move farther down
the trail to see if I can see how deep it is. I may have to get up higher to see if there are any eggs laid yet.
Clearly no hard incubation going on.
The female had been out on one peak (first bird I saw) then went to
the cave. The male is hunting. The female is sitting. This female (assuming I have the birds correctly assessed for gender) is very unusual looking with that dark band of color high up on her breast.
Seeing a pair of peregrines in their natural nesting area is one of the most thrilling natural things I’ve ever seen. It just looked right. I am a little worried that people are permitted to climb the rocky outcropping but it looks like the nest is facing away from where they are climbing. Still less noise and people watching than an urban nest on a building.