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About Macomb County

2006 Falcon News


Foiled again! 2nd Mount Clemens Peregrine nest of 2006 a bust

June 27, 2006 --- Visitors to the Macomb County Peregrine falcon Web cam notice that the second nest of the year started by Horus and Hathor has been abandoned.

One of the three eggs in this nest disappeared sometime during the past two weeks. Then Sunday night, June 25, one of the remaining eggs was broken. Kariann Anderson, a Peregrine specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said she saw the female, Hathor, standing over the broken egg on Sunday evening apparently trying to gauge the situation.

Sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning, June 26, Hathor abandoned the nest. The broken egg and the last intact egg are all that remains visible on the county Web cam.

Consequently, the Web cam will be taken down shortly. Further information will be available soon.


Peregrines surprise!

June 8, 2006 --- Dashing off the failure of their first nest of 2006, Macomb County's Peregrine falcons surprised observers by delivering a second nest with three new eggs. The county Information Technology Department immediately re-installed the Web cam that tens of thousands of people enjoyed earlier this spring when the Macomb County Peregrines nested the first time. Peregrines are on the Michigan endangered species list and the national list of protected species.

The new nest of Peregrine pair Horus and Hathor was discovered during an inspection of prime nesting spots off the 11th Floor of the Macomb County Building on Wednesday, June 7. The inspection was undertaken after observers spotted some suspicious activity by Horus, the male, and Hathor, the female, over the past two weeks.

Horus would perch on the 11th Floor ledge on the southeast corner of the building while Hathor would land and walk toward the box recessed into the ledge, and then hop in.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources observer Kariann Anderson thought this activity could be a sign of “re-clutching,” when birds make a second attempt at egg fertilization after a first nesting fails.

At Anderson's suggestion, two Macomb County employees went up to the County Building's 11th Floor Wednesday afternoon, June 7, and did a visual inspection of the window boxes at the four corners of the building. Horus and Hathor are fond of the boxes after nesting in the northeast corner in 2005 and the southwest corner this past March.

When the employees quietly entered the padlocked room adjacent to the box on the southeast corner, they saw Hathor incubating a new set of eggs. Hathor stood up and revealed three healthy-looking eggs that seemed larger, darker and more speckled than the four eggs she laid in late March and early April.

“This is a unique situation because birds of any species are often unable to re-clutch after establishing a nest and tending it as long as Horus and Hathor did,” Anderson said. “But they probably waited two weeks after the first nest failed to re-clutch, which is typical, and then egg-laying usually takes a week or so.”

Although the precise date the new nest was established is unknown, Anderson estimates it will be two or three weeks before hatching could occur. The odds of success are lower with a re-clutch, Anderson said, but the timing could be ideal.

“If the eggs hatch, when the chicks are ready to fly about six weeks later and eventually are ready to hunt, it could be the time when their favorite prey passes through the area on their migratory patterns.” Anderson said.

The original eggs began disappearing in late April/early May, just as they were scheduled to hatch. Anderson suspects the birds knew the eggs were not viable and removed them. Still, Hathor tended the last egg until May 11, when the nest was finally abandoned.

Soon after, Anderson retrieved the remaining egg from the first batch so it could be tested. A candle test, when a candle is held on one side of the egg as you look through the shell, revealed only a yolk and no embryo. Anderson said the egg is now undergoing toxicological testing.

May 12, 2006 --- It looks like Macomb County will have to wait another year for a successful pairing of its endangered Peregrine falcons. About 8 p.m. Thursday, May 11, Hathor and Horus appeared to abandon the last remaining egg in their nest.

Although Hathor, the adult female, returned to the nest on Friday morning, May 12, for about 40 minutes, she has since left the egg alone. Both Hathor and Horus, the young male, have remained in the area of the Macomb County Building and the County Administration Building in downtown Mount Clemens.

Kariann Anderson, who has been observing the nest for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says there is virtually no possibility that the egg will hatch. Plans are to remove the egg after it has been abandoned at least 24 hours and perform a few tests in an attempt to determine what went wrong, she said.

The endangered falcons initially established the nest with three eggs in late March and Hathor laid a fourth egg during the first few days of April. About April 30, two eggs disappeared from the nest and later the same week a third went missing. Still, Horus and Hathor maintained vigilance over the remaining egg until Thursday evening, May 11.

Anderson said problems such as these are common for a young pair of birds, adding that this is only the second time the pair had cared for a nest and eggs.

“The third time could be the charm,” Anderson said. “They’ll stay here now that they’ve made Mount Clemens their home for two seasons, and they’ll try again next year.”

Last year, Horus and Hathor had one hatchling from three eggs, The chick, named Alexa, lived to have her first flight in June 2005, but was struck and killed by a car the next morning.


Only one egg left

May 10, 2006 --- We are still waiting for a hatching to occur, although we know that Horace and Hathor have only one remaining egg that could yield a chick this year. Three of the four eggs that were being tended by Macomb County's Peregrine falcon pair disappeared during the week of April 30, just days before the estimated date of hatching.

Kariann Anderson, the nest observer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says the adult birds most likely removed the eggs during the night – when they could not be observed with the county's Web cam – apparently after determining the eggs were not viable.

Whether the last remaining egg is healthy is unknown as of May 10. Hatching was due in the May 4-6 timeframe, a calculation based on the first sighting of three eggs in late March. A fourth egg was laid within the next few days. If the last egg is the fourth one laid, hatching may not be too overdue. The good news is that Horace and Hathor are still diligently tending the nest. Macomb County is grateful to the Macomb Audubon Society for its donation of $400 to support the Web cam that is giving Peregrine falcon fans an intimate look at Horace and Hathor's nest.

Representatives of the society presented a check on Monday, May 8, to the Legislative Administrative Services Committee of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners. Of the $400, $250 was from the society's fund and the rest from donations by individual members.

The LAS committee also approved the purchase of a new Web cam that will have twice the capacity of the current one. The purchase still must be approved by the Board of Commissioners on May 18.


April 14, 2006 --- Spring has sprung and love again is in the air around the Macomb County Building in Mount Clemens! Our endangered Peregrine falcon friends, Horus and Hathor, established a new nest and are tending four eggs. If all goes well, the eggs should be hatching around the 4th, 5th or 6th of May.

Soon, anyone will be able to watch live action of the nest and, hopefully, the hatching and growth of Peregrine chicks. In the window adjacent to the nest, Macomb County’s Information Technology Department has installed a Web cam offering a breathtaking live view of the falcons incubating their eggs. A link to the Web cam will be available on this site soon.

Observers for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources visited Macomb County’s facilities in late March. From the Board of Commissioners meeting room on the 9th Floor of the county Administration Building (across the street from the County Building), they observed the activities of the falcons and verified it was the same pair of birds that nested for the first time on the County Building in spring 2005.

On March 31, the observers did a close-up search of prime nesting locations off the County Building’s vacant 11th Floor and found the new nest in a protected box on the southwest corner (at the intersection of South Main Street and Cass Avenue). Last year, Horus (the young male bird) and Hathor (the more mature female) set up a nest in the box on the northeast corner of the building. The 2005 mating resulted in three eggs, but only one developed. The lone chick, named Alexa, flew for the first time on June 24, but was found dead the next morning after being hit by a car on South Main Street.

Three eggs were spotted when this year’s nest was found March 31, but Hathor laid the fourth within the next few days.

“Horus and Hathor have been spotted perching on their usual ledges, looking down from the corners of the County Building at the bustle of the city waiting for migrant birds (their favorite food) to travel the corridor,” said Kariann Anderson, one of the DNR observers. “If you look up from the sidewalk, you will see a large cement ledge just below a smaller greenish ledge; the nest is in the cement ledge.”

Hathor spends much of her time incubating the eggs while Horus keeps watch and hunts. In the Peregrine world, males also do nest duty – called “nest relief” – when the male incubates and the female stretches her wings to prevent atrophy. Horus has been observed at this task for longer periods of time this year – a sign of maturity and experience.

“Last year, Horus was a juvenile (first-year) male and didn't care much for nest relief,” Anderson said. “He would sit for only a couple of minutes at a time and then get up and call Hathor back to the nest.” Anderson suspects that is why only one egg hatched in 2005.

Horace now has his mature plumage, so it will be more difficult to tell the two apart.

But Hathor is much larger. Hatching takes place about 35 days from the start of incubation. Chicks take flight for the first time about six weeks after hatching.

“We hope to have four young Peregrines this year!” Anderson said.