The Outlaws

photo courtesy of D Swayze

Sundance is our outlaw bird – in part because he’s named after the Sundance Kid (his father’s name was Cowboy), in part because he and his mates prefer the wild wild nest! Sorry, bad pun. Last year, Sundance’s mate Marilyn disappeared right about the time we thought they should be nesting. We try not to disturb nesting birds too much so we didn’t know she was missing for a couple/three weeks. Later in the summer, Sundance was seen hanging with an unbanded 2019 hatch-year female at the nestsite, and still no sign of Marilyn.

This year Sundance’s lady friend is also unbanded but we can’t tell if it is his friend from last year because the 2020 bird was still very brown with juvenile markings whereas this year’s female has full adult plumage. Having said that, from photos Dennis took last year I’m inclined to think it is her. This bird has a full black cap, something we haven’t seen in more than a decade and our Project used to be known for having birds with full black caps. The change in a peregrine’s plumage from juvenile to adult is like night and day but it does look like last year’s bird had a fuller black cap even as a juvenile. Also, this bird found Sundance pretty quickly at the beginning of the season which could have been luck but I suspect, she’s been here, with him, before. No way to prove it though, just my opinion.

photo courtesy of D Swayze

We have named her Etta after Etta Place, the wife of Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, aka, the Sundance Kid. And we shouldn’t have any problem identifying her in future years. Not only does she have a full black cap, it looks like she has two small, but very distinctive, white patches just above the inside corner of her eyes – you can see them in this photo. The bigger, white patch on the left side of her head (right side for us as viewers) is some messed up feathers from a fight she had a week and a bit before this photo. The bird she fought with was Sadie from Hart’s & Spencer’s last nest together at the Logan territory. Interestingly, Sundance is from the first successful nest at Logan.

Haven’t seen Sadie since, but it looks as though Sundance and Etta have finally settled down to nest and hopefully their first year together as outlaws will be successful.