August 2015:  The end of the season (page 1 of 2)


1. As of the last report, eight of the 12 chicks in the neighborhood had fledged, leaving four to go.  All of the remaining chicks have now fledged. 


“Fern”, one of two hatched on our property, led us on a merry chase.  Typically, we know a chick is ready to fledge when they leave their comfort zone to explore parts of the neighborhood unknown to them.  They appear agitated, jumping and testing their wings.  Fern started this behavior on a Monday.  Here she looks like she is heading for the obvious launching site.








2.  Due to her behavior, neighbors set up a watch, positioning ourselves in the yard on lawn chairs, with books to read and refreshments.  We were determined not to miss her fledging. 


At any given time there were 2-3 people watching her in shift from 8am to 6pm.  In this photo, she has taken a long stroll into side yards she has never seen before.  This was on Wednesday.  After making the walk she return to sleep in her nesting area. 








3.  On Thursday she was on the move again, this time exploring our garage.  Since her behavior was so unusual, we, the experts, were certain she was getting ready to fledge.  Having now spent four days on watch, no one was willing to give up.  We had already invested too much time.


Friday and Saturday passed with more strange behavior, always ending with her taking a nap.  Passing neighbors and tourists stopped to find out why we were camped out.  Soon they were stopping by on regular intervals - has she gone yet?  This was looking like a week-long block party.





4.  Sunday was quiet until mid-afternoon.  Then Fern walked out to the point, checking out the wind.  We were convinced she would now fledge since this was the perfect spot for the launch.  Every other time we had followed a chick to the point, that bird fledged.  But not Fern.  After 30 minutes, she walked back to her nesting site and went to sleep.   After 7 days on watch, we closed up for the night.








5.  The next morning, Fern walked to the point at 6:20, flapped her wings several times, and fledged at 6:22.  Three watchers, including myself, had luckily decided to get an early start on the watch, so we were there to watch her leave.  Due to rain, I had a small camera with me, so my shot was not very good.










6.  You can see Fern on the right side of the photo as she headed out over the water.


After 7 days of moving all over the neighborhood, keeping over a dozen watchers in suspense,  Fern takes exactly 2 minutes to make her final leap.


Continued on the next page.








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