If you’ve been keeping up with Boise’s Fastest Family, you’ve probably noticed that we have four fluffy chicks in the nest, they’re growing like weeds, and mom hasn’t been spending as much time incubating.
In the next 3-4 weeks, the chicks will be going through a lot of changes. Their fuzzy hatchling down will give way to full feathers and they will grow to be the size of a full adult Peregrine. Because of their increased size and the warmer weather, the parents do not need to spend as much time incubating. They do, however, need to spend significant more time hunting to feed the growing chicks.
Fortunately for our chicks, both parents are talented hunters. During one 20 minute viewing session last week, we watched dad deliver small prey items to the nest ledge twice! Later that day, mom brought back a full-sized pigeon and spent approximately 30 minutes feeding the chicks and herself from the large quarry.
One of the most interesting things about watching the FalconCam at this stage of chick growth is to see what prey items are brought to the nest and how the chicks eat. Not all chicks eat at every feeding. Often one or two chicks in the back of the cluster won’t be fed during one session, but will get the majority of the food at the next feeding. The parents usually feed based on a chick’s feeding response – which is often just the chick opening its beak as the parent holds food nearby. A chick that is full from a previous feeding won’t exhibit a strong feeding response, which cues the parent to move on to another chick.