All Three Kids Flying High at Stoney Creek!!

July 07, 2014 - Stoney Creek

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Bruce and I decided yesterday that we needed to get out on a road trip and Stoney Creek was on the agenda.  We both have quite an affinity to Athena and Craig as we have been tracking them and their activities for the past two years now.  We were both elated when we found them in the quarry with young and were now itching to see how well they were all doing.

When we first arrived at the quarry, there wasn’t a bird in sight.  We checked the nest cavity and scanned the top wall but were unable to see a single bird.  We checked the ages of the young ones and they are all now between 45 and 50 days of age.  Too old to still be in the nest we hope and yet too young for any major off campus travels.  We scrambled into the car and decided to circle the concession to see if we could spot anyone from the various angles on the sideroads.  Our first circle to the west netted nothing.  Then a circle to the east.  Still nothing.  Back to the top end of the quarry we went and just then a Turkey vulture came in really low over the top of the quarry.  If anyone was home this big bird was about to get run out of town.  Blam!!  In comes Athena and gives it a whack.  The vulture struggled to regain its composure when Whap, another strike by Athena.  The vulture beat a hasty retreat out of the territory and we scrambled back over to the west side to see if this activity brought out any of the young ones.

As soon as we made our way down the road just past the entrance to the quarry we could see Athena flying above the open field to the north and we could clearly hear a juvenile calling.  Craig joined Athena in the swoop passes of the field and then next thing you know it, we had a young one in the air!  As it turns out, the juvenile was Ariel, the only female, and she was flying like mad after her mother.  They flew together back towards the quarry and disappeared from view behind the berm.  A moment later she was back and this time she was being chased. by a second juvenile.  This turned out to be Stoney and the two played a rough and tumble game of aerial chase of which Ariel felt the need to be really vocal about.  Two in view!!  Fantastic!!  They both circled back towards the quarry and again were lost from view behind the berm.  We didn’t have to wait long before they were back yet again and this time we had all three as Cameron decided to join in the fun.  Both Athena and Craig were also flying with them and at one point we had all five birds present and flying together.

The rest spot for the young ones was the same hydro pole that Athena was roosting on the last time I was there.  Ariel and Stoney both landed on the wires and were content to sit their briefly for a rest.  Ariel took off down into the quarry while Stoney remained on the wire, but not alone.  A moment later, a Red Winged blackbird flew in and landed feet away from the young male.  Stoney didn’t quite know what to do with this information and so just sat there flipping his head in play at the blackbird who did not find Stoney equally amusing.  After a minute or two, the blackbird took a run at little Stoney, knocking him off the wire and grabbing his tail as they went.

We left the family at rest in the quarry by mid afternoon and were feeling quite pleased to see that all three juveniles were doing amazing.  Thanks to Bruce for the wonderful outing and congratulations to the quarry for such a successful breeding season!!