Falcon Terms

Chick
Actually the correct technical word is eyas, but Chick is easier to say and easier to type according to Laura. So, before they fledge and are still in the nest box, Laura refers to the young ones as chicks in her discussion and blogs
Juvenile
Once they fledge, you’ll see Laura uses this term instead of chick. They are no longer babies but they aren’t adults yet. She’ll often shorten that term to juvies.
Assist
Laura uses this term to describe an adult bird “helping” a juvie in flight. It could be the first flight or a subsequent shaky flight. An adult will fly closely alongside or underneath the juvenile to guide it. She has never witnessed body contact but she assumes it is possible. The adult will often try to force the young bird to a safe landing as it guides it either up or down to that spot.
Wing flapping
The chicks and juvies do this in the nest box and during fledging. The first few days of flight, we often are on the edge of our seats as we see them on building ledges flap-flap-flapping away. Are they going to go any minute like we think they might with all this flapping? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. They’ll often settle down and think it about it some more.
Food transfer
We witness the adults do this in mid-air. It is usually the male bringing food to the female so she can feed the youngsters. One of the adults will flip upside down – generally the female so she can take the prey from the male- and exchange, talon to talon. It only takes seconds to do this and is quite amazing – now that is strength and precision flying! The recipient of the food will then fly with the prey, land and pluck it (if it hasn’t already been done) and take it to the kids. Most of the time the head is missing and some of the wing feathers are too, so we can’t tell what’s for dinner.
Bump
Unlike the Indy cars, this action usually involves one juvie bumping a parent who brings in food and then taking it away from the adult. This action happens after they are flying well and are starting to hone those falcon survival and hunting skills. Another variation of the this term is bumper tag, when one juvenile is on a ledge and another one comes along and lands in same spot, as the first one takes off for a new location. Food isn’t involved in this game. They even do it to the adults.
Falcon squash
When the juvies need to take a break, they sort of just squash down on a ledge or rooftop for a while. You’ll see their wing tips sticking up or over the edge. No need to be alarmed – they are just resting.
Cockroach walk
This action generates more reports of a young falcon injured than most anything else. As I’ve said before, falcons aren’t the most graceful of walkers because they have such big feet. They sort of lope along so folks think they are hurt because they are walking funny. Don’t ask me why I call it this, but as others have heard before, it popped into my head one day while watching them and has stuck with me.
Aerial ballet
While Laura has never seen the Bolshoi, this performance by the falcons is one graceful, mesmerizing endeavor on par with Swan Lake I think. It usually involves three or more performers but sometimes she’s seen just two in the air. These beautiful birds catch thermals and drift up and up in a spiral, barely flapping their wings. One good spot to see this is at the intersection of Ohio and Meridian streets. Laura thinks the Salesforce Tower allows for some good winds for this to happen.
Tail chasing
This is such fun stuff to watch. Once the juvies are flying with confidence they will take off after each other. They will zoom around the sky, one right behind the other. This most likely helps them develop the skill to chase prey.
Stall
Laura use this term when she sees the adults stall out up in the sky. They can be flying like mad – witness the banding day when they were swooping and diving up by the nest box – and then just come to a complete standstill as they position themselves against the wind.
Mantling
Mantling prey involves a very serious game. Once they have fledged and are flying comfortably, the parents still bring food to them. But eventually the juveniles will run and try to take the food from the adult when the adult lands with it nearby. Whoever wins the foot race to mom or dad, will take the prey and then mantle the food. They sort of hunch over it and spread their wings in a cloaking action, keeping any brother, sister or parent from it. Once the victor is done with eating, the others get their chance.
Stoop
A stoop is the movement downward that falcons make (especially when going after prey) at an extremely high rate of speed.
Scrape
A scrape is the name of a falcon’s nest, seen as a depression in gravel or substrate.
Crop
A crop is the name of the part of the falcon’s anatomy that serves as a storage area for food until it is passed to the stomach – often seen as a bulge in the upper part of the bird’s chest area when it is full.
Mute
Mute is the word for falcon excrement.
Duck hawk
A duck hawk is another common name for the peregrine falcon.
Aerie (Eyrie)
An Aerie (Eyrie) is a raptor nest built at a high altitude.
Falco Peregrinus
The scientific name for peregrine falcons. Peregrinus is the latin word meaning ‘to wander’ or ‘wanderer’.