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Coming into the home stretch

by Bob Sallinger

kgw.com

Posted on May 20, 2009 at 7:35 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

The red-tail nestlings are now 34 and 35 days old and we are entering the homestretch. The birds will likely take their first flights within the next couple of weeks--probably around 45 days of age but they could go earlier or take longer. They spend a good deal of their time standing now and will probably start spending more time perching on the railings and window ledges rather than standing flat-footed on the nest. Also look for a lot of jumping about as they build-up their flight muscles.

Their tail feathers are about half way grown. They are still in a phase we refer to as "in the blood"--when the feathers emerge, the shafts are full of blood. As the feather grows, the vane will emerge and the shaft hardens (what we call "hard-pinned.") Feathers are pretty amazing structures. Each strand of the vane has numerous little barbs that allows it to interlock with other strands so that the feather retains its proper configuration.

Lots of questions about the third egg. I have not seen it for awhile. It may have gotten buried or pushed to the side. It may have also gotten broken by all the activity in the nest.

In answer to June's question regarding how I got interested in this type of work, I was actually born on "Audubon Drive" so I guess it was destiny. We do occasionally work with the Peregrine Fund in Boise and my wife use to work for them releasing peregrines and aplomado falcons--it is a small world. The Condor Reintroduction Program is an Oregon Zoo effort--we have limited direct involvement, but are interested in working with the Zoo and others to reduce the amount of lead in the environment which is the primary problem facing condors. A former Audubon care Center Staffer, Kelli Walker, has moved over to the Zoo and actually lives on site at the Condor facility overseeing their day to day care (again---it's a small world.) As for how young people can get involved, we have great volunteer programs at Audubon for all ages to participate in bird conservation.


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