They Like Me. They Really, Really, Like Me.

Peregrine Falcom pulling all the stops on nest defense: tear your face off AND poop on it.
Peregrine Falcon pulling all the stops on nest defense: tear your face off AND poop on it.
But we can understand.
But we can understand.
She is protecting these beauties.
She is protecting these beauties. The incredible beauty of soon-to-be baby Monsters.
Truth Be Told, the Peregrine Couple at the Tower of Doom were quite calm, as much as  a nesting PEFA can be.
Truth Be Told, the lucky Peregrine Couple who scored the Tower of Doom  this season were cautious, but quite calm, as much as a nesting PEFA can be. They barely made a sound, which is strange for a bird that normally shrieks like a witch with a pack-a-day-habit.
Maybe they are starting to recognize that humans aren't so bad after all
Maybe they are starting to recognize that humans aren’t so bad after all.  Ben Wurst fixing up the legendary Tower.
But still, there is something about being circled by a PEFA silently and low, as opposed to screaming up high,  that is actually twice as freaky.
Still, there is something about being circled by a PEFA silently and low, as opposed to screaming up high, that is actually twice as freaky.

The Tower Of Doom ( or this one if you’d rather read) is ground-zero for Peregrines on the coast. It was right there on the Sedge Islands that captive bred Peregrines were reintroduced to the wild after we accidentally killed every single one in the Eastern U.S. spraying DDT all over the place.

It’s rich history makes it a coveted nest site among the PEFA elite.

This year’s lucky couple is 02/AN, a female born in 2011 Swan Bay, and 34/Y a male born in 2006 in Manahawkin. Totally NJ PEFA Party. Please name them.

I asked NJ’s legendary zoologist Kathy Clark, the Great Mother Of NJ Peregrines, why the adults seemed so calm during our brief visit to check up on them, never screaming at Ben who was on the Tower, but going nuts at any Seagull that came within 1 mile of the Tower:

I do think they are accustomed to our nest checks.  Theoretically, their defensive behavior is reinforced every time we leave… that we leave without harming their eggs or chicks because they have defended them.  Or it’s just that there isn’t a serious downside to our visits so it’s not as intense.  They are right to be extra alert to other threats:  the gulls that will swoop in and take an egg, or anything that looks like an aerial predator.

At banding, we are handling their fragile chicks and the chicks vocalize, which is really upsetting — to them and sometimes to us!  The eggs are slightly less important to them:  the adults’ investment grows from the beginning of incubation to the end, and is highest once they have chicks.  If they lose chicks they usually lose the entire season

Kathy’s answer was characteristically scientific and well measured.  Coming from a great soul who’s worked tirelessly to bring back these monsters for decades, her words have the authority of experience. Still though, I have a better one:

I think they like us.