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FALCON BEHAVIORS

"Guide to Management of Peregrine Falcons at the Eyrie,"
edited by T. Cade, J. Enderson and J. Linthicum

Reprinted courtesy of the Peregrine Fund

COURTSHIP

Bowing
A general display used in many situations, especially as part of courtship.

Male or Female Ledge Display
The falcon stands over the nest depression (scrape), leaning forward (bowing) and "ee-chupping". The male often stares at the female during a male ledge display.

Scraping
Either bird can do this. The falcon runs its breast through the substrate or nest depression, pushing out with its legs behind. The bird is forming the nest cup (scrape), but this is also part of courtship. Scrapes may be made at several potential ledges before one is finally chosen for laying.

Mutual Ledge Display
Often this is precipitated by a male or female ledge display. The other bird joins the first on the ledge and both bow and "ee-chup" over the scrape, sometimes touching bills. This can also happen outside the Aerie.

Food Transfer
The male offers food to the female by approaching her or standing near, with food in talons or beak, The female takes the food from the male, usually "ee-chupping" or wailing. This can happen in the air or perched. The male often signals the female that he has food by wailing as he approaches the cliff.

Landing Display and Hitch-Wing Posture (male)
A pre-copulatory display in which "shoulders" are held high as if in a shrug, and male often prances as if on Tiptoe.

Copulation
The female leans forward and moves her tail to one side. The male rests on his tarsi (part of the foot above the toes, like the foot), on her back flapping his wings, and presses his tail underneath the female's. Copulations are usually accompanied by wailing on the female's part, and chittering or "ee-chupping" by the male. When the male departs, the female usually "ee-chups" a few times, and often rouses (shakes her feathers).

Image of Amelia peering in through a window

OTHER BEHAVIORS

Caching
Peregrines sometimes store uneaten food for later retrieval. They usually have several favorite cache spots on the cliff or elsewhere in the territory.

Casting
The falcon hangs its head and wags it from side to side with mouth open. Eventually a pellet (casting) of non-digestible material is expelled.

VOCALIZATIONS

Ee-chup
A repetitious, staccato "ee-chup, ee-chup, ee-chup" sound. Males have a higher-pitched "ee-chip." Variations include a slower "chip, chip, chip" usually during ledge displays and while feeding young. "Ee-chup" usually implies social recognition, but a very similar sound, louder and more staccato, is given as a response to vagrant raptors, usually Peregrines.

Cacking
Very loud "cack, cack, cack." A response to disturbance, either a raptor or other animal (including the observer) too near the Aerie.

Wailing
A long slow ascending "waaaaaaa, waaaaaaa, waaaaaaa." Sometimes connotes hunger, but also used in a variety of circumstances. Youngsters have a more insistent variation of this call, which is often referred to as hunger screaming.

Chittering
Like "ee-chupping" but quicker and less defined. Usually used by birds in proximity, often when one bird is being made uncomfortable by some aspect of the interaction, or during play by fledglings.

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