The red-tails are now 29, 29 and 26 days old respectively and inching toward thee quarters of the way towards their first flights. Any guesses as to what the date of the first flight will be? Their body feathers are now emerging from under the down--they are actually now pretty much covered with brown body feathers but the layer of down is still hiding a lot of them.
WATCH RAPTOR-CAM LIVE: KGW-Audubon Raptor Cam
Many folks appear to be worried about them falling from the fire escape as they become more and more mobile. The moving about and flapping is helping them build-up their muscles in preparation for their first flights. They will increasingly stand right at the edge of the fire escape and flap. They will also soon start to take very short jumps and flights up onto the windowsill and the railings. Their strong talons allow them to hang on tight as they work those wings. It is possible for them to fall before they can fly, but the first escape actually provides a pretty huge area for them to move about on and lots of structure for them to grasp.
For those interested in other birds of prey in our city, check out the pictures and footage from the Fremont Bridge Peregrine nest. I took these earlier this week while banding the young at this site. Peregrines are the fastest animals in the world diving at speeds of over 200 miles per hour. Peregrine populations were decimated by the pesticide DDT which caused them to lay eggs with thin eggshells. They spent nearly three decades on the endangered species list. Today peregrine populations have recovered. We have about 160 peregrine nest sites across the State of Oregon. About 6% of those occur in the Portland Metro Area where they substitute large bridges for the cliffs on which they typically nest. Peregrines have nested on the Fremont Bridge since 1994 and have produced 54 young making it one of the most productive peregrine nests in Oregon. Peregrines don't actually build stick nests like the red-tails. Instead they lay their eggs right on a ledge--in this case on a bed of pigeon poop and gravel about 250 feet above the river. Every Saturday into early June Audubon runs a Peregrine Watch Program at OMSI where you can view peregrines nesting on the Marquam Bridge.