Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 29 - Is Lexi Really a Female?

Before I post any pictures from my visit on the 28th, here are a couple more shots from a week ago. Here is Lexi sitting atop the building on the southwest corner of Main and South Temple.

As I was going back through my photos, I found this one. I believe this is Early (top), Lexi and then an adult in the distance. This was just before the food handoff. I could be wrong - possibly a pigeon in the distance?

On Tuesday night, 28th, I arrived about 5:30 pm and was unable to spot any of the falcons. Lunchtime of the same day, same thing - no sightings. Bob arrived about 5:45 and said he spotted Lexi up on the Temple but he was tucked back. Bob left for a meeting but before he could get off the Temple grounds, Lexi took off heading south and then west. Within a few minutes Lexi was back with Early. Lately, Early seems to be nowhere and then suddenly appears after Lexi flies off. We have no clue where Early is hanging out during the day but seems to return to the home grounds at dinnertime. We also had not been seeing parents together. Mostly we had been seeing the adult male coming in to drop off food.

After Bob left, Karl arrived to help watch. He told that the parents had been spotted Monday night sitting on a building that is a few blocks south of the Temple grounds, called One Utah Center. There was confirmation that while they were spotted there, the two kids were flying around near the Church Office Building. I determined to visit One Utah Center soon so I could try to get some photos of the adults. Karl also said that kids could be seen flying south, maybe to that building, then returning very soon after (also on Monday night).

A few other watchers arrived and very soon after there was a fly in by both adults, a meal handoff and a lot of sqwauking (presumably because Lexi didn't want to share her meal with Early and was warning him off). There has been growning suspicion that Lexi, who was thought to be a female while she was still in the nest, (then was identified as a male upon tagging) is actually a female after all. I was told that she/he is displaying plumage that is more identifiable as a female, like the dark bars showing in the second picture below.

Here are some shots of Lexi in the spot where she ate her meal.

This is Lexi, I believe, just about 9:15 when I was getting ready to leave for the night. Early was not seen much during that hour or so while Lexi was eating. Parents disappeared too. As I was driving off, Karl radioed that the two kids were put on a spectacular flying show just over their heads. Sorry I missed it.

July 30, last night, I headed down to park closer to One Utah Center in hopes of seeing the parents and maybe kids flying around their new spot. I parked my car 2 blocks away and walked over, finding an office building across from One Utah, then took the elevator as high as I could get (10th floor). I had seen something along a ledge that I thought might be one of the kids resting. As I got closer and zoomed in, it appeared to be something dead, I pressume a pigeon, and maybe its a meal that was left there for later?

Sorry, kind of gross. Looks like intestines hanging down.

I have a whole string of flying pictures that I will post later today. They are from a last week but they are so great, I just have to put more of them up. I am on duty tonight as well, so there should be more pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last night I spent a few hours at Falcon Central. The photo above is for those of you who have never been to Temple Square (the grounds where the headquarters (COB), Tabernacle, Temple, Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB) and Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) is located. Its a huge area with business skyscrapers to the south and homes and apartments to the north. This view may give you a bit of an idea of height and buildings where the falcons are nesting and flying. The building on the left is the JSMB and looking south you can see the Zions Bank building just behind it and to the right is the Key Bank building. You can also see a large oval reflecting pool at the bottom of the picture. The Temple, where the kids have spent much time, is just to the right in this photo.

(Note: you can click on any picture to enlarge it)
I found June sitting in a shady spot on the grass and she said that she hadn't seen much of the birds since she arrived. It seemed odd not to find any of them on the JSMB or Temple. I walked down to the south end of the reflecting pool to see if I could see them on the south side of the Temple or on the skyscrapers. Sure enough I saw Lexi atop the Key Bank building and soon after Early flew by. The two of them took to the skies just above the Key Bank and flew large circles together over and over and over.

They were putting on such a great show and I was able to get fairly clear pictures. Which means, I am going to post ALOT of photos today. Who knows how many more opportunities I will get since they seem to be straying a little bit farther from their normal hangouts.

Here's a closeup of the photo above. In most photos you can see a darker and lighter bird. Lexi is darker than Early. So in this photo, Lexi on the left, Early on the right.

The show finally ended with Lexi landing on the Key Bank and Early on the Zions Bank buildings.

Sometime around 7pm, a parent flew into view because Early left Zions Bank and flew over to the COB to accept a dinner handoff (we believe). He screamed and sqwauked as he flew there which seems to happen whenever a parent is in sight. They still depend on the parents for food. He took the meal back to the Zions Bank building and soon after Lexi joined him. This photo combined with the photo of the buildings in the distance gives you an idea of how far they were from us.

Here's a closer view. They just finished eating. They sat up there for another hour before making way over to the Temple.

Lexi on left, Early on right - Lexi with the darker cap.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thursday, July 16
Its been very hot this past week and the watch group has taken to coming to the grounds early in the morning or after 6pm to avoid some of the heat. But even at 6pm it feels like a furnace. The high on Thursday was 96 and the temp was expected to mount to 99 Friday and 104 Saturday. With these hot temps, falcon flights are lower especially in the mid day. I arrived on Thursday night to loud sqwauking that could be heard clear across the grounds to State Street. Both kids were hanging out on the east side of the Temple calling for dinner, avoiding the sun. Parents were no where to be seen.

A few short flights over to the JSMB and a few high fliers to the COB but it was fairly quiet. Dad landed on the SE corner of the COB about 7pm and then stayed there until I could no longer see because of dark, around 9:45p. Mom appeared with dinner and attempted a hand off to Early, but he dropped the prey (which later we confirmed flew away!).

Here is Early sitting in the sun hoping for dinner.

Lexi made a great landing on this Temple 'pineapple' where he stayed for a good 30 minutes.

After the failed attempt at the prey handoff, the kids found another carcass, we assume was from a meal the day before, and spent time sharing that. They stay on the Administration building until about 9:30, when they finally moved over to the JSMB to most likely stay the night.

Friday, July 17
Our group of watchers is dwindling more and more each day. I haven't been there much since Thursday. I attended a Tabernacle Choir concert on Friday night which took me to the grounds around 6:30. There were some flights but the best show was after the concert. We were walking on North Temple, just north of the grounds where the kids mostly fly. It was close to 9:30p and Early and Lexi were swooping just above the heads of the crowd exiting the concert. I saw them playing a great game of tag, looking very agile.

Monday, July 20
I took some time to walk over to the grounds at lunch and saw one of the kids sitting on the JSMB. I am assuming it was Lexi and Early was off somewhere. No sign of him on the grounds. Lexi seems to have recovered somewhat from his encounter with the antenna but still seems to stick close to 'home'. I will try to spend time tomorrow night and report in on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15

I have been gone a whole week and worried that all the Falcons would have left the area. I dropped by Falcon Central about 1:30 and found no watchers and no falcons. I felt very sad. Like I missed the show.

I stopped again after work and heard the familiar screeching of Early and Lexi from the Temple. Sure enough they were both sitting on the center granite tower, I am sure demanding their dinner. I saw no parents around. I called Bob Walters on his phone. I was going to report what I was seeing because I was under the impression that no watchers were coming anymore. But Bob and June were on the grounds and when I caught up with them they related a story of a possible injury to Lexi on Monday night. Apparently Lexi tried to land on the antenna on the to9p of the church office building and apparently bumped it or fell off. But there was much worry over the last two days that Lexi was injured. Up to that point there was a lot of soaring high over the buildings, playing together. But after Monday night it seemed that both were sticking close to the JSMB and Temple buildings.

As we watched tonight, though, both birds took off from the Temple and again began soaring high, both landing up on the observation deck of the COB. Apparntly Lexi is feeling better. When I left, Early had flown east and Lexi still sat atop the COB. I will be back tomorrow night for a full njight of watching. Hoping to have pictures for you then.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 7

Life is interupting my visits to Falcon Central. But I did make it there on Tuesday evening. There was much excitement as Early and Lexi made a grand effort to fly to the top of the 28 story Church Office Building (COB) about 8 pm. When I arrived both kids were making small flights from the JSMB to the Temple. It was very hot still, probably 90 degrees, kids were in the shade but were vocalizing, calling for dinner, as they hadn't eaten anything all day, according to Bob Walters.

The parents perched themselves on the two south corners of the COB and stayed there. The kids were getting nowhere with their requests for food. It seemed to us humans, that the parents were trying to get them to fly up to the top of the building. Why else would they sit up there for so long and let the kids suffer!

(Click picture to enlarge. Here is Early on the rail after he made his landing)

Well if that was the intent it worked. Both Early and Lexi began high soaring flights together over the area of the gardens with each circle getting higher and higher. We were amazed to watch as Early made it to the top and landed on the rail. I thought Bob Walters was going to cry. He was so proud. Lexi on the other hand didn't make it though he made a gallant effort, just touching the top level and then sort of dropping off, he flew back down to the JSMB and sat rather dejected while the Mom, Dad and brother sat up at the top of the COB. But alas, Early didn't get dinner up there and both parents left almost immediately and flew to the Temple. Poor Early. He then gave up and did a racing descent that had us all hold our breath and landed rather hard on the Temple. Dinner was soon delivered to Early and Lexi flew over immediately/frantically to share in the meal.

After eating they flew a bit and landed on the JSMB where it seemed they would spend the night.

Note: I will be enjoying some time with my daughter, who is visiting from Chicago, over the next few days and won't be posting. But I understand that the kids will still be around for another week or more, so I will try to add some notes as I can get updates from the rest of the watchers. I will be back on watch next Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6

I stopped by this morning just before work. Burt was positioned by the fountain and said there hadn't been much activity. He did say that Early had taken a seven minute flight the previous day, circling the area between the Temple and the Conference Center. After talking with Burt for a few minutes, I walked west to snap some pictures of one of the kids goofing around on the JSMB. I have heard that the watchers are now able to distinquish Early from Lexi by their 'moustache' (the patches of dark under their eyes) - Lexi's are larger than the Early's.

Based on that, this must be Early.

Wow, I was there just at the right time. As Early takes off for the Temple.

Just as he made his way around the west side and came to land on the North side, his brother flew in and they landed together. I know this is not very clear but that is both Early and Lexy landing on the North side of the Northeast spire.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

This morning I talked my husband into joining me for a brief hour. We arrived around 8am. Several watchers were already in place. Both kids were hanging out in the shade on the north side of JSMB. Dad was stationed on the opposite corner. About 8:30 he decided the kids needed to get moving so he took some swoops back and forth in front of them. It didn't work. They were still there when we left at 9am to go to the Downtown Farmers Market.

My husband's camera did a great job of getting in close. I think I spy a little bit of white fluff on the left bird, so it may be Lexi with Early on the right.

Yours truly and my rescued greyhound, Story, peeking out.

This is June on duty. She's a wonderful lady. She and I are going to spend some time hiking in Corner Canyon to take bird surveys this summer.

Mom watching from The Temple. I came back later in the day and spent my evening on watch. The kids had been flying higher than ever during the day. When I arrived at 6:30p one of them was on top of the Zions Bank skyscraper. Mom delivered dinner up there which was greeted with much vocalization on the part of the kid. I was also told that one of the kids had tried to fly up to the top of the Eagle Gate Tower but didn't quite make it, flying into the glass and dropping down to a ledge. There may have been some bent wing feathers but both juveniles flew back to the JSMB and took flights to The Temple and back. When I left at 9:45 both parents had moved up to the top of the 28 story office building to keep watch for the night. The two kids were on the roof of the west wing of JSMB.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day Five - July 3, 2009

Remember you can click on any image to enlarge.

Today was a fantastic flying day. I had the day off from work, so I decided I would get up very early and try to beat Bob down to Falcon Central. I walked in about 6:50 am and was the first watcher on the square. Both 'kids' were sitting on the roof of the east wing of the JSMB under beautiful blue skies. We had a nice breeze as well. Perfect for flying.

I started looking around for Ma and Pa. I found Mom over on the corner of the Eagle Gate Tower. Perfect position and high enough to keep a eye on the two kids on the roof. She's on the very back right corner.

Here's a bit closer of a shot.

And here from another angle.

Bob and Susan arrived about 7:15. Soon after Lexi flew over to the Temple. As far as we know, that was the first flight either of the kids had made (and stuck a landing) at the Temple. According to my photo time stamps, Lexi sat over on the Temple for about an hour.

I waited and waited right under the building, hoping I could catch Lexi as he flew back to the JSMB, which we all were pretty sure he would do. It took an hour but I caught him just perfectly.

Here's Mom who flew over to keep watch.

I took a walk to get something to drink and a snack, around 10:30. On my walk back all the radios started sqwauking with news that Early was flying north past the tall office building. I watched as he flew large rings around the building, gaining altitude on each pass and then he landed on the northwest corner of the 28 story building. THAT'S HIGH! He only stayed a few minutes and then flew down and east beginning to cross out of the comfort zone of the parents. One of them followed him across State Street, over the Eagle Gate apartments and then guided him back to safe territory where he landed on the east wing of the JSMB. Here he sits with Dad watching dutifully. Dad on the left, Early on the right.

Around noon, Lexi took off and began flying over the to 2-story Administration building. This caused a lot of distress; both parents became very vocal and seemingly upset about where she was headed. They circled the area, vocalizing and swooping. Eventually, Lexi returned and settled on the west wing of JSMB.

At 2pm I gave up the ghost and went home. Enough excitement for me for one day. I don't know how Bob stays day after day, sun up to sun down.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day Four - Evening Flights

When I arrived back to Falcon Central after work, it was raining pretty steadily. Three of the falcons were visible on the north corners of the JSMB. If you click on this picture it will enlarge for you and you should see Early on the top left corner, then a youngster, probably Lexi, on the bottom left corner of the right building wing. Then an adult above Lexi. Mom brought some dinner to Lexi and the two of them sat on that sharp scallop where Lexi is sitting in this picture.

There have been some thunderous rainstorms for the past two evenings. Early is seen here looking a bit wet.

Because of the rain, there wasn't much flying. The kids flew between wings of the building a bit and parents could be seen on various parts of the temple. Here, is one on Moroni's trumpet.