Hamilton Falconwatch News
ANOTHER HAMILTON SUCCESS STORYTuesday, July 5, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: Today was the final day of the 2022 Falcon Watch, and we were fortunate to have the peregrines return to the downtown core to put on one last show for watchers. We arrived to find them all perched on BDC and Fairclough. Around 7:14 am, two chicks flew off Fairclough towards BDC, around the building, then back out over Fairclough while chasing and talon touching. By 7:30 we had all four chicks in view on top of BDC. An hour later, a couple of them flew to Fairclough, and then all activity paused while it rained.
Once the skies cleared, around noon, three chicks were seen chasing each other around BDC, making brief landings there before the next chase. Through the afternoon and into the early evening the chicks settled down on BDC. Once the day's heat had dissipated, they took to the air again, with more chasing flights, talon touching, evading and catch up, with up to three chicks in the air at a time. Sometimes the chicks in the air would make swooping passes at the one still perched on BDC. This chick just stayed put. After this, two of the chicks headed back to Fairclough, while the other sibling caught a ride on a thermal updraft and glided high above the downtown core. It then banked, turning with the wind, and soared off in an easterly direction. A wonderful, symbolic end to the 2022 watch.
Even though our watch is ending, this doesn't mean the chicks are going to suddenly leave. Our watch is done because we are confident that they will not need our help any more. The chicks will carry on, practicing and playing like today, and they will repeat the pattern of recent days, flying further from the nest, perhaps for days at a time, and then returning for a day or two. This will continue through July, and even into August, before, one day, they simply won't return. So keep an ear out for their distinctive call, and when you hear it, look up. You will be treated to a visual delight, as the chicks continue their hunting practice.
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWSMonday, July 4, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Our chicks are now ranging so far afield that we only catch brief glimpses of them throughout the day. They are flying capably and strongly, chasing pigeons, and, we think, starting to catch them. We are hearing a lot less calling of hungry chicks. It seems they have taken the final steps to being true masters of the skies! So, it as been decided that the 2022 Falcon Watch will end tomorrow. Nathan will be working then, so this is my last day. I wanted to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that helped make this watch a huge success. It was real a pleasure working with you. Hope to see you again next year.
EXTENDING THEIR RANGESunday, July 3, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day began with chicks on the usual buildings around the downtown core, making occasional, small circling flights. After 9am, a couple of chicks flew out of sight to the west. Around 10:30am we noticed the pair flying around the buildings at the corner of Main St. and Caroline, possibly chasing prey. A short time later we saw them on the north east corner of 200 Jackson St West dressing a meal. But we didn't see whether they caught it for themselves or if an adult caught it for them. When they finished their meal, about half an hour later, they flew back to BDC.
At 12:45pm two falcons were seen flying north. Around 2pm we observed an adult that had been perched on the Pigott building take off and fly around BDC, calling. It was joined by one chick and they both headed west. Ten minutes later we saw two falcons circling in the air, above the block bounded by Jackson St. W., Caroline St., S., Queen and Main St. Around 2:30pm there was another chick from BDC seen flying west. By 2:40 two chicks had returned to BDC. At 3:10pm we noticed a third chick on BDC on the east side. The three spent the rest of the hot afternoon perched there.
Around 6pm they were flying again, once again ranging further afield, and we caught sight of falcons near Caroline and Main. Around 7pm we could see falcons circling above Main and Hess St. There was lots of action to be seen after this time in and around various buildings south west of the core: 191 Main St. W., 181 and 200 Jackson St., W., 95 Hess St S., and Bold Towers. The four chicks were seen on top railing of 191 Main on the south side. An Adult was seen in this area as well, the chicks were very loud. The chicks were seen chasing each other and the adult around and on these buildings. One chick was observed chasing around the buildings fixed on pigeons, seen diving and swooping while in chase mode. As the day ended, the chicks were seen making flights back and forth between 191 Main and BDC.
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ANOTHER QUIET DAYSaturday, July 2, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Early this morning, the chicks were seen around the Sheraton with three on the ledge next to the nest ledge. By 8:40, all of the chicks had moved to the BDC building and would spend much of the morning and afternoon on the west side of the BDC roof, ducking in and out of sight. The parents were often seen on the Stelco tower through the morning. At 10:41, there was a feeding where McKeever brought food to the southwest corner of the roof of the Fairclough building. She soon left, replaced by three chicks who dressed and ate what looked to be a pigeon, before returning to the BDC roof.
At 4:40, all of the chicks were seen in the air playing tag and talon touching with each other in the air near the BDC building and settling down until shortly after 6:00 when they began flying again. At 6:45, two chicks were seen on the end of the crane working on the construction site southwest of Standard Life. Around this time a facebook user spotted an adult feeding a chick atop the building under construction on the northwest corner of King and Queen Streets, about 3 blocks west of the Sheraton. Visit the group (using the button above) to view the videos that she posted. At 7:20, a chick was seen eating on the east side of the upper roof of the Sheraton. By 8:10, three chicks were on the gratings on the roof of the Standard Life Building. At 8:20, the chicks were startled and sent flying due to firecrackers set off near King street. Finally, at 9:13, at the end of my watch, there were two chicks on the south side of the roof of the Fairclough building and one on the north side of the railings on the BDC roof.
PLAYFUL AND POWERFULFriday, July 1, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: There was lots of activity with the falcons this morning, with at least three of the falcon chicks in the air at once. Chasing after one another from BDC to Standard Life, calling loudly. At 6:27, all four landed briefly on Standard Life, then two took off again, while the other two remained for a few minutes arguing over a scrap of food (photos). We saw many strong, agile flights to Homewood, the David Braley Center and the Pigott building, over to BDC and back to the Sheraton. At around 8:10, two chicks looked to be eating prey on top of Standard Life. Soon it was just Balfour there, picking at the last of the food.
Shortly before 9am, Auchmar came in and dive-bombed Balfour, before settling down next to him (photos). In the meantime, the other two chicks began to fly back and forth to different buildings again. Balfour joined them, and by 9:34, so had Auchmar, and we again had four chicks flying. Around 10am they started to settle, with two chicks hanging out on Fairclough, and one on BDC. The last one was out of sight, but we were fairly sure it was hiding on top of Standard Life.
By noon the two chicks that were on Fairclough had joined their sibling on BDC, where they spent the next several hours sheltering from the afternoon heat. Around 4:45pm, Wynnstay landed at the nest ledge (photo). An adult dropped in for a few seconds, but it looks like Wynnstay chased it off. About 5:12pm Wynnstay took off and circled the David Braley parking lot, and was then joined by another chick, giving chase, catching up and grabbing Wynnstay's talons mid-air. The chicks' flying skills are improving dramatically. Through to 6:30pm lots of flight activity was seen, with all four chicks once again in the air at the same time, ranging as far as the Marquee building to the west.
At 6:38, two chicks, or possibly a chick and an adult, came flying over the top of Homewood from the west. Lots of calling was heard. One bird landed atop Standard Life, while the other flew over, going north. The chick on top of Standard Life was seen to be mantling and dressing a meal. At 7:10 it flew with the food to the BDC rooftop. The remainder of the evening saw numerous chasing flights back and forth between the downtown buildings, often with all four chicks in the air at once. Eventually they settled down on BDC.
A QUIET DAYThursday, June 30, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: For most of the early morning, the chicks made occasional flights near the Standard Life building and the Sheraton. At 8:12, three chicks were spotted eating a food drop on Fairclough. By 9:20, two of them moved to the BDC building after some circling. An hour later, Auchmar and Dundun landed back on Fairclough and seized the scraps of the earlier feeding. Dundurn soon returned to BDC leaving Auchmar to finish the meal. All of the chicks were seen flying, playing tag and talon touching up until about 10:30, when they all settled on BDC. They would spend most of the afternoon there in the heat with two of them perched on the red maple leaf of the BDC logo and two perched on the roof just above. The quiet was interrupted just once, at 2:57, when an adult made a food drop. One of the chicks claimed the food and took it to Homewood to eat, while the others returned to their perches on BDC.
Judson spent most of the evening perched on the northeast window ledge of BDC and, at 6:54, there were still two chicks with him. The other two had moved to the south side of the Standard Life roof. After an extended flight from all four chicks which featured more dive bombing and talon touching, they all landed on top of Standard Life around 7:05. Mckeever was seen circling over BDC at 7:14 which prompted two chicks to take flight, though Mckeever would fly south and the chicks would eventually end up back where they started. At 8:35, all four chicks took off from Standard Life. One would land back there, while the other three landed on the David Braley Center. Just before my shift ended, one of those chicks flew back to Standard Life, so we ended our day with a pair of chicks on each building. But they didn't all stay there. Half an hour later the webcam caught a photo of Auchmar on the nest ledge.
HIGHER AND HIGHERWednesday, June 29, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: It was fairly quiet early this morning. Three of the chicks were soon spotted. They would spend most of the morning around the Sheraton and the old Standard Life building, while completing occasional flights to the BDC building, Fairclough, or Stelco tower, often overseen by their parents. Around 9:45, Mckeever brought food to the southeast corner of Standard Life, which was quickly seized by Wynnstay, Auchmar and Dundurn. At 9:55, Mckeever flew over to the east facing duck on the Homewood sign as the rain began coming down. At 11:05, 3 of the chicks were seen on the nort-west corner of the lower roof of the Sheraton, close to the wall with the old "S" logo, and they were joined by Auchmar from Standard Life at 11:20. Two chicks took off from this location at 11:45. After that, they were often seen flying high and circling throughout the afternoon, stopping to take breaks at the roofs of their favourite buildings. At 4:45, after some activity, a chick was seen eating on the southeast corner of the lower roof of the Sheraton while two were on the northeast corner of BDC, and the last one on top of Standard Life.
In the evening, at about 6:50, two of the chicks were on Standard Life, the other two were seen flying impressively overhead, much of the time accompanied by a parent. They were seen dive bombing each other, talon touching and circling high in the sky on thermal updrafts. At 7:22, food was brought to the two loud chicks on Standard Life by Mckeever, who leaves it with them soon afterwards. At 8:28, all 4 of the chicks are gathered on the east side of the upper roof of the Standard Life building and are seen sharing food. At 8:38, one of the chicks was seen feeding two of the others as if it were a parent! More long, circling flights were made throughout the rest of the evening, where the chicks were again seen flying too high to be seen.
LOTS OF MID-AIR INTERACTIONSTuesday, June 28, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day started early, with lots of flights before 7am, chasing and talon touching. The birds routinely flew between the Sheraton, Standard Life, Homewood and Fairclough, coming to rest most often up on the top of the BDC building. Just past 7:00 am, McKeever dropped off the first meal of the morning to two chicks on Homewood. At 7:20 am, one chick flew from Homewood across the front of the Sheraton, up around Fairclough, and landed on top.
The pattern of short practice flights, moving back and forth between various downtown buildings, continued for the rest of the morning. Balfour landed on the nest ledge around 10:25, and stayed for about two hours (photos). Around 11:18, a chick was heard calling from the west side of BDC. Eventually, all four chicks were perched on BDC, which they made their landing spot for the rest of the afternoon. Around 2:25, A chick and an adult flew east at very high altitude, and returned about an hour later.
Between 3:30 and 4:30, the chicks walked, instead of flying, moving along the north side of BDC to its east side, and then back to the north side again. At 4:37, two chicks took off, and made a circling flight around BDC, chasing each other and talon touching, before landing once more on BDC. Another brief flight was made by a single chick a few minutes later. An adult was seen, being very vocal, flying towards Standard Life around 4:58pm. At this time we noticed that a chick had managed to take off from BDC without us noticing, and had landed on Standard Life.
Around 5 pm the chick on Standard Life flew off over Homewood and disappeared from our view. At 5:30, the other three chicks made short flights, all landing on Homewood. Thereafter they made several short flights, and by 6:30pm the three were on Standard Life. A short time later the fourth chick reappeared and joined its siblings. They appeared to be eating some food, but we weren't sure whether we had missed a drop-off or if this was leftovers from an earlier meal. They flew off, one by one, going back to BDC around 7pm. Two chicks flew off from BDC again, another giving chase, playing tag, talon touching and, around 8:15, an instance of two chicks tangled, talons gripping talons, one hanging upside down, like acrobats. Fortunately, this maneuver did not get them into any trouble. The day closed out with all four once again on BDC.
COOLER DAY, MORE FLIGHTSMonday, June 27, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: For most of the morning, the chicks were seen on the roof of the BDC building, as well as Fairclough, Stelco tower and Standard Life, spending very little time on the Sheraton. An adult landed on the nest ledge at 6:54, and a chick landed on the next ledge over. Within seconds, they both took off again (photo). The chicks were seen flying impressively during the morning and afternoon, two of them often practicing their talon touching and playing tag with each other in the sky, while a third lagged behind. By 1:55, all of the chicks had been spotted, three on the north facing edge of the BDC roof and the last one still on Homewood. There were a couple of feedings, with one at 3:10 on the east side of the roof of Standard Life in which Mckeever was seen helping her chick eat and then finishing the scraps herself.
The impressive flights from the chicks did not stop. They were seen spending a long time in the air, sometimes circling above downtown, and other times chasing each other closely and continuing to practice their talon touching. A chick, thought to be Auchmar, spent most of the evening on the Northeast corner of the Standard Life building, not joining in with most of the flights. By 7:00 the chicks had all moved over to Standard Life. At 8:30, two chicks took off, and landed atop the crane being used on the construction site to the southwest of Standard Life. They then flew off to BDC. At the end of our watch for the day, all four chicks were on BDC, with a parent watching over them from the Southwest corner of the Fairclough roof.
FLYING TOGETHERSunday, June 26, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day was off to an early start, with two peregrines seen chasing each other between Fairclough and BDC at 6 am. After that, they settled down a bit, with brief flights and long rests on BDC, Fairclough and the Sheraton sign. Around 7:05, Dundurn spotted an adult resting on the nest ledge, and came in to join it, looking for food. The adult was soon chased off and Dundurn spent the next twenty minutes at the nest (photos). At 8:10, two falcons flew to BDC, where one found some food to nibble on. With all the chicks flying strongly, it is more common to see all four of them flying together, and landing near each other on the same building. They all landed on BDC at 8:15, and five minutes later three took off and were seen chasing and talon touching. A minute later the fourth chick joined in. This lasted about 15 minutes, after which they all returned to BDC.
Just past 9 am an adult was seen landing on Standard Life with a meal. One chick joined it there. At 9:30, two more chicks took off from BDC and headed west, being very vocal. After about 5 minutes of circling, they land near the adult and chick on Standard Life. Over the next hour, the chicks made short practice flights, with three of them returning to land on Standard Life, while the fourth chick, still on BDC, circled out over Fairclough before returning to BDC. After that, it took off and joined another chick and McKeever, flying over King Street, interacting while in the air, then flew up to BDC. The other two chicks, later identified as Auchmar and Wynnstay, continued to hang out on Standard Life (photo).
At 10:58, an adult landed on Standard Life, and resumed eating the meal that the chicks had abandoned. Now, Auchmar takes interest and wants to be fed (photo). But the adults now expect their chicks to do the work of pulling apart their prey for themselves, so it refuses to feed Auchmar, and continues eating. Auchmar keeps pushing until the adult decides it has had enough, and takes off with the food. Soon after, the other two chicks join Auchmar and Wynnstay, and for a few minutes, all four chicks are gathered together on Standard Life (photo). After this, one takes off, and then two more. Auchmar was the last to leave Standard Life, and then all four chicks landed on various parts of the BDC roof and sign. They would stay there for the whole afternoon. It was just too hot to fly.
Around 6:30pm an adult was seen flying from Fairclough, and one chick took off from BDC and headed north. At 7:10 an adult dropped off a meal on BDC. Half an hour later it was back with more food, landing on top of BDC. Soon after, two chicks gave chase to the other adult headed towards Standard Life, and it appeared that one of these ended up with a meal for its efforts. There was some more flying seen from two chicks between Standard Life and BDC. Watchers are happy to see that all four chicks are now making strong flights and solid landings. But this was all brought to a halt by the thunderstorm that drenched the area during the last half hour of the watch.
MASTERING THE SKIESSaturday, June 25, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: When I arrived at 9am, two chicks were on Sheraton with McKeever, another chick on Fairclough, and the fourth, identified as Auchmar, on Standard Life (photo). Judson was on Stelco. All six peregrines in sight. The morning was characterized by short flights between these three buildings, plus BDC, and CIBC. Auchmar landed on the western-most ledge on the front of the Sheraton and sheltered from the sun until the shadows disappeared around 11:20 (photo). Two chicks were in air around Fairclough at 11:27am.
Most of the early afternoon was spent hiding from the sun. Around 3:50 chicks were observed riding the thermal updrafts above the downtown core. Three chicks left BDC, talon touched, and flew back to BDC. One chick took off from Stelco, circled the building, then flew over to BDC. Their landings are becoming more graceful and steady. By evening, all the chicks were gathered on the north side of BDC. One chick flew to the Pigott building, and was fed around 7:20pm. Two more chicks flew from BDC, over Pigott and the Scarfone Hawkins building, finally landing on the latter. Two chicks flew back to BDC at 7:30. At 7:45pm, a meal was dropped at Scarfone Hawkins. The day ended with a chick on BDC, another on the antenna of Scarfone Hawkins, a chick on Pigott, and Auchmar returning to the nest ledge for the night (photo).
HUNTING PRACTICEFriday, June 24, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Our day started with the chicks giving us a brief scare. Around 6:00, the chicks were practicing their flights, when one was seen swooping and grabbing another, resulting in the two plummeting towards the ground. This had us concerned for a short while. But clearly, even though we didn't see it, they disengaged and regained altitude, as, a short time later, we saw all four chicks on the roof of the Standard Life building, with the parents keeping watch from Stelco and Fairclough.
After staying near the Sheraton and Standard Life for most of the early morning, they moved their flights to the BDC building, Stelco tower and Fairclough. In the afternoon, McKeever offered some hunting training, bringing food and dropping it in the air in front of the Standard Life building, for a chick to snag mid-air. The chick missed it, so the food was recollected by Mckeever and brought up to the southeast corner of the building where a chick soon displaced her to eat it. At 3:23, Judson brought more food and successfully transferred it to a chick in mid-air, which was then taken to be eaten on the roof of the Scarfone Hawkins building.
Though the heat of the early afternoon caused most of the chicks to find shade, by late afternoon they were seen flying in wide circles over downtown as they used the thermals to gain height, on two occasions going so high they could no longer be seen. There was also plenty of talon touching and playing "tag" among the chicks. In the evening, the chicks were often taken east by the wind, flying near the Pigott building. The were often seen around BDC, continuing to touch talons and practicing their diving. The chicks were rewarded for all this effort with more feedings near dusk.
EXPLORING THEIR WORLDThursday, June 23, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day began with Auchmar on the nest ledge. Within the next hour, an adult and a calling chick landed on Standard Life. The chick was seen nibbling on the left overs of a meal. Meanwhile, a peregrine was seen flying over to Fairclough from BDC and then back again. Around 6:54 another chick flew in and joined the one on Standard Life, we identified the pair as Dundurn and Balfour. At 7:35am, an adult brought a meal to them (photo). Wynnstay was up on top of the Fairclough building. At 8:46, Balfour and Dundurn took off from Standard Life. Dundurn landed on the "t" of the Sheraton sign. Wynnstay flew in from Fairclough and landed beside him. A few minutes later, Balfour landed on the ledge next to the nest (photo). All four chicks were now on the Sheraton. They stayed there for about two hours. Around 10:40 a chick left the "t" briefly and returned. Perhaps it was excited to see an adult catching food, because one arrived soon after, with a meal.
About 11am we were seeing flights from Wynnstay and Dundurn, heading out from Sheraton to Fairclough and BDC, high circling flights over and around both buildings. Balfour joined them a few minutes later, landing on Fairclough. At 11:15am, he flew over to BDC. Around noon an adult brought some food to the nest, but Auchmar ignored it and stayed huddled in the shade in the corner. So the adult flew off with the food. About five minutes later, Auchmar got out on the ledge, started flapping (photos), and then at 12:07 took a short flight over to Standard Life.
The chicks spent the afternoon slowly exploring their territory. Around 3:18 pm Wynnstay, Dundurn and Balfour were seen in flight together over the entire core area, from BDC to the north side of the Sheraton and over Standard Life. Even flying high west around top of the Marquee building. They then flew over and above city hall and David Braley, before finally returning to BDC. Auchmar spent his afternoon in a much more leisurely fashion, hiding from the sun (and our view) somewhere along the east side of Standard Life.
After 5pm there was more action seen from the three chicks flying with one adult, out around and over BDC. Lots of interacting with one another while in flight. Around 6pm two turkey vultures were seen close by to Auchmar, both adults gave chase. Around 7:05 pm the volunteers saw another round of flying action from the three chicks at BDC. At 7:35, Auchmar finally makes an appearance, walking back into view near the south-east corner of Standard Life. At 7:50pm an adult brought her a meal. Dundurn and Balfour flew over from BDC and joined her. At around 8:50 pm another meal was dropped off (photo). Wynnstay remained on top of BDC. Dundurn and Balfour eventually joined her. Auchmar settled down on Standard Life for the night.
BECOMING MORE ACTIVEWednesday, June 22, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: At 5:26 this morning, Auchmar seemed to be eating the prey that was left on the nest ledge yesterday. Two other chicks were on the roof of the Fairclough building. At 6:00, one of them was seen eating. Auchmar spent her morning on the nest ledge, with a parent perched on the sign above her, keeping watch. Auchmar took off at 11:18, and was spotted again on the roof of the Hamilton Convention Centre at 11:40. Shortly after, she took off heading West and was not seen again for several hours.
For much of the afternoon, the chicks were very quiet due to the heat, though Dundurn was identified flying from BDC to Fairclough, and flying in tight circles above it for a considerable amount of time before landing beside Wynnstay on the west side of the building. At 5:45, Auchmar was identified on top of the Fairclough building before she flew over to David Braley, and then headed south about 20 minutes later. By 6:10, all of the falcons were accounted for, with a parent on the northwest corner of Stelco, a chick on the southwest corner, another chick on the west side of Fairclough, and the other two chicks and a parent on the northeast corner of the roof of BDC.
After about 7:00, the chicks began flying between Fairclough, BDC and Stelco with long, circling flights. At 7:28, Auchmar was seen making a flight from the direction of the Fairclough building to land beneath Camera 1 on the Sheraton (photos). At 8:06, a parent flew over and landed on the top of the "T" of the Sheraton sign, and, soon after, all three of the other chicks were seen flying in front of the Sheraton with the other parent, with each temporarily landing on various parts of the Stelco, Sheraton and Standard Life buildings throughout their flights. Auchmar flew over to Standard Life, then back over to the northeast corner the Sheraton, and then back to the nest at 8:36. At the end of the night, Auchmar settled on the nest ledge, there were 2 chicks on the Sheraton "T" and the last chick was on top of Standard Life.
Note: Huge thanks to the Security at the Fairclough Building and Core Entertainment for their help and going out of their way to make our work as easy as it can be!
MORE FLIGHTS, TALON TOUCHINGTuesday, June 21, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day dawned with Auchmar still on the nest ledge, and the other three chicks hanging out on, and occasionally flying back and forth between the BDC building and Fairclough. The chicks kept popping in and out of view, and there were long periods of inactivity up until around noon. At 12:20, a chick flew from Fairclough, across the parking lot above us, and landed on the south-west corner of the Standard Life building, being very vocal while doing so. This stirred up Auchmar, who ran back and forth flapping on the nest ledge, and then made a short flight over to the south-east corner of Standard Life (photo). She flew back to the nest ledge five minutes later, and resumed her occasional flapping and stretching.
The other chick took flight again at 1:52pm, and flew back to join its two siblings on top of the Fairclough building. After that, it was back to relative inactivity, with just some walking the railings and hopping down to the roof area. The chicks couldn't t spend much time on BDC as there were workers on the building. At 2:53 an adult dropped a meal on the nest ledge. We think it was the quail that was brought with Auchmar from the Owl Foundation, because, once again, Auchmar refused to eat it. She spent the next couple of hours mostly resting, but occasionally flapping vigorously.
At 4:40, Auchmar decided to leave the nest and once again flew over to the Standard Life building. Our webcam actually caught a photo of her mid-flight. Around 7:10pm an adult visited her and was pushed off with aggressive behavior from the chick. Soon after, two of the chicks, that had been sitting on Fairclough all afternoon, took off in a westerly direction, and landed briefly near Auchmar. An adult kept watch, circling overhead. The chicks soon took off and returned to Fairclough. Half an hour later, Auchmar was seen making a low flight along the south face of Standard Life, which ended with a good landing on the south-east corner.
As the day's sun began to fade with some cloud cover, the wind picked up, and the three chicks at Fairclough building were able to get in some flying with one another, circling the building and flying over to BDC. The volunteers saw instances of talon touching from two of the chicks while in flight at this time, around 8pm. Eventually they settled down for the night atop the BDC building. Auchmar ran along the edge of Standard Life to the south-east corner. We were thinking she might settle there for the night, but, after we left, at about 9:30, Auchmar made a long flight across the front of the Sheraton, coming in for a landing on the south-east corner of the lower roof, from there she walked all the way along the south edge to the I-beam right below the camera (photo), and then, from there made the short hopping flight back into the nest, where she finally, really, settled for the night.
A BUSY DAY, AUCHMAR RETURNSMonday, June 20, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: This morning, two of the three chicks were seen with an adult spending most of their time between the Fairclough building and various locations on BDC. The third of the chicks, thought to be Wynnstay, was spotted initially on the Northeast corner of the First Ontario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place). She moved over to the Northeast corner of the David Braley rooftop at 7:18 (photo) where she was fed at 7:40. She stayed there a couple of hours, and then took off, heading east, and flew out of sight at 9:45.
In the afternoon, around 1pm, workers were seen on the roof of BDC which caused the nearby parent to vocally encourage the two chicks who were on the building to fly over to Fairclough. The parent continued circling over BDC and vocally making their presence known to the workers. At 1:32, one of the two chicks on Fairclough was fed by an adult on the southeast corner.
Auchmar was judged to be healthy after her overnight stay at the Owl Foundation, so, at 2:15, she was released on the lower roof of the Sheraton. A vocal Auchmar was seen hopping over to the ledge on the Northeast corner, passing over the appetizing quail brought from the Owl Foundation, before hopping into the nest ledge at 2:43 where she would settle for the rest of the day (photos). Soon after, a chick was fed on the top of the elevator shaft of the Ellen Fairclough, during which the chick was confirmed to be Dundurn.
At 3:50, McKeever brought a meal to Auchmar, who grabbed it quite eagerly and 'mantled' the food (covering it with her wings). She was indeed hungry. She just didn't want food provided by humans. A few minutes later, Mckeever took the remainder of the meal to the old Standard Life building and then over to Homewood to finish. This follows a pattern we have seen in recent days of the parents giving chicks a partial meal, then flying off with it. Another technique for encouraging the chicks to fly.
At 6:17pm, there was another feeding for two chicks on the Southeast corner of the Fairclough building. By 6:20, all 4 chicks were accounted for, when the final chick was seen to land on the North side of the BDC rooftop. Half an hour later, two of the chicks were seen flying very close to each other with a parent just behind them, all of them vocal and coming into very close contact in the air, though talon touching was not seen. All three of the chicks moved over to the roof of Fairclough, with two landing on the south edge and the other on the north side. At 8:12, a parent was seen dressing prey on the south edge of the Standard Life building, while Auchmar vocally called to it from the nest. But the parent ate the prey itself before leaving and heading south. With Auchmar still on the nest ledge, preening herself, the other three chicks and the one visible adult settled down on BDC and Fairclough for the night.
WYNNSTAY TAKES FLIGHT!Sunday, June 19, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: Bright and early this morning, at 5:20, Wynnstay took to the skies. She flew strongly, with the usual slight downward trend, heading west. She disappeared over the buildings west of Bay Street. After a long search, at 11:30 watchers found her perched on the chimney of a low building along the north side of King Street, in that block west of Bay (photo).
In the meantime, at 5:41 Auchmar made her second attempt at flying, and did much better this time. Eventually landing on the Hamilton Convention Center, where she was seen being buzzed by seagulls on the south-west corner around 7am (photo). She walked north along the west edge of the roof to get away from them, then, once they were gone, went back to the south-west corner, where she was later seen taking a bath in the pooled water there.
Around 8am, another chick, who we later deduced was Balfour, was seen flying around between the Art Gallery, Standard Life, and eventually settled on the Homewood rooftop, a few meters above the west-side sign, where a parent often perched. He was brought a meal around 8:15. Dundurn was identified as the chick flying back and forth from the Standard Life building to the Sheraton rooftop from 8am past 11:30am. He was also brought a meal, on the south edge of Standard Life, at 8:40. Later that morning, Auchmar walked up to the northwest corner of the HCC and spent some time there, then around 11:30, she walked back down the west edge, then along the south side, and walked out of sight behind the Fairclough building. After that we didn't see her again for certain until we saw all four chicks at once around 5:30.
Just after 4pm, Wynnstay flew from her King St. location over to the southeast top corner of the David Braley building. McKeever brought her some food about twenty minutes later. Balfour moved over to Braley as well, where we were able to see his bands and make a positive ID. Wynnstay flew again, a short distance to the HCC south roof ledge and was seen eating around 5pm and then made her way to the rooftop area of the Scarfone Hawkins building over on James Street, where she stayed the rest of the evening. We saw the two male chicks flying well into the evening. They were seen flying east, landing on top of Fairclough, then circling and making flights over/around BDC. The pair were seen interacting with one another in flight. They eventually landed, one on the top of BDC and the other on the BDC sign. They settled down for the evening on the west side.
The last big event of the day was a rescue! Once again, it was Auchmar. Around 8pm, she was seen to collide with a building, and came to ground. She was taken to the Owl Foundation for examination, and there was no sign of injury. She was extremely feisty and objecting to all this attention from humans. Still, it was decided to keep her overnight for observation.
MORE FLIGHTS FOR DUNDURN AND BALFOURSaturday, June 18, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: The day started with a cloud of smoke hanging over the Braley parking lot from a fire about a block away to the north-west (in a vacant building). Fortunately the smoke was not blowing over the nest, where Auchmar and Wynnstay were still perched. At 9:43, a parent was seen on the southeast ledge on the 18th storey of Stelco tower and soon after, Dundurn, who it was presumably calling to, was spotted on the second ledge on the east side of Stelco tower. By 9:53, Balfour was seen on the south side of the central elevated roof of the Art Gallery (photo). On a few occasions after 11am, seagulls were seen dive bombing Balfour. Balfour took flight again at 11:40 and was seen landing on the north side of the roof of the David Braley Centre where a parent kept trying to entice him to fly again. But her stayed put for most of the day.
Dundurn took flight at 11:45 and flew northwards, being chased by seagulls. He attempted to land on the south ledge of the library building but then flew out of sight. He was then spotted on the top of a capped smoke tower on the Jackson Square plaza near the old Eatons sign. He lef that about 10 minutes later at 12:16, and we lost track of him for a while. At 2:04, Balfour was fed a meal at the west end of the Braley roof (photo), which had the chicks on the nest ledge across the street very vocal and flapping.
At 5:03, McKeever fed Auchmar at the ledge (photo), and shortly after, Dundurn was spotted on the west side of the top roof of the BDC building, a very high perch! Balfour was seen leaving David Braley and heading east, to attempt to land on the Fairclough building, before flying over to BDC and then back to the east side of the David Braley roof. At 6:25, Dundurn left the BDC to go to the south edge of the top roof of the Fairclough building where he was accompanied by a parent and shortly after, at 6:28, fed by the same parent. At 7:00, Dundurn flew to the 23rd ledge on the southeast corner of Stelco tower and 5 minutes later, flew towards the Pigott building, and was there momentarily before he was lost. At 7:30, Balfour was also missing. At 8:10, an unidentified chick was seen at the southeast corner at the top of the Sheraton. The chick then completed a series of flights over the next 35 minutes, the first taking it to the top of the Fairclough building on the west ledge above what seems to be the elevator shaft, then to the East ledge of the roof of the David Braley and finally to the top of one of the outcrops on the west side of First Ontario concert hall above the sign where he was seen to settle until 9:08 but his band was not seen.
THREE CHICKS FLY! ONE RESCUED!Friday, June 17, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: An amazing day started off calmly enough, with chicks up on the nest ledge early, flapping a bit, and being fed a couple of times. The adults resumed their flights around the Sheraton and close by to the nest ledge, encouraging the chicks to fly. We don't know if this worked, or if he just slipped, but, either way, at 1:13 Dundurn left the ledge, with his siblings staring down after him (photos). As usual for a first flight, it was generally downwards, and Dundurn first tried to land on the side of the Standard Life building, but soon landed somewhere at the courtyard level between Standard Life and the Sheraton. As Falcon Watchers were headed over there to find him, he was spotted making another flight. This time slightly upwards, out across King Street, over the top of the art gallery, towards the roof of the Hamilton Convention Centre. He was finally located, perched on the southern roof edge of that building, where he stayed for the next couple of hours. As the afternoon progressed, the wind picked up, and at times was quite gusty. At 4:16, the three remaining chicks were perched at the western edge of the ledge again, and another gust swept over them. Wynnstay seemed to be perfectly fine with it, but Balfour and Auchmar both leaned into that gust, stretching their wings, and then suddenly both took off at the exact same moment. This makes us wonder if one or both of them made the deliberate decision to fly, or if this was an amazing coincidence of two falcons slipping at the same time. Both flights were again downwards. Balfour flew more strongly, and was seen headed west, following an adult. But Auchmar, being larger and heavier, came right down to the ground on the sidewalk near Standard Life. She was quickly rescued, and taken to the Owl Foundation for a check-up. She was found to be in perfect health, with no injuries or concerns, so she was returned to the Sheraton roof later in the evening, after which she made a short hopping flight back to the nest. Meanwhile, around 5:18, Dundurn decided to try another flight. He could only be seen on camera at that point (photo), and so while we saw him take-off, we don't know where he headed next. He first disappeared from view into the courtyard on the south side of the Convention Centre, but again, by the time Falcon Watchers got there, he was gone. There was one more observation, about an hour later, of a chick flying up from close to ground level towards that roof, but by this point we couldn't be sure if that was Dundurn or Balfour. Balfour was spotted late in the evening, perched on a low chimney pipe in the plaza behind the Sheraton. Rather obviously flying well to have gotten there.
I personally would like to thank all the volunteers that were here today, you all were a big help. Also I would like to send out my thank yous to the Front Desk Security/Management for use of Stelco Tower 20th floor. And thank you for being so patient with us today. As always, the Front Desk Staff / Security / Engineering at Sheraton were great. We are all very appreciative.
A NICE SHOWER AND LOTS OF FLAPPINGThursday, June 16, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Early on in the morning, at 6:52, there was food dropped to the ledge and soon after, at 7:02, a parent, thought to be Judson, brought another meal and fed all of the chicks other than Wynnstay, who chose to watch from the east end of the ledge. As the morning progressed, the chicks were only occasionally seen flapping. Dundurn and Balfour seemed to spend more time on the ledge than the others. Into the afternoon, as the heat continued, the chicks were seen alternating between being on the ledge and in the scrape. When the rain became harder at around 1:42, the chicks were seen flapping enthusiastically in the rain (photo), as the water washed away more of their remaining chick down. After the rain ended, the chicks were all seen preening themselves. Around 4pm, Dundurn perched on the east corner, closest to the camera, and sat still long enough for us to capture some nice portraits (photo). Visit the Favorites Gallery to see more.
Both parents were seen near the nest for much of the day today, often between Fairclough and Stelco towers, though when it rained one of them took shelter on the north-side Homewood Suites sign. After the rain had ended, the parents were seen enticing their chicks more. Into the evening, the chicks were seen flapping their wings and running along the ledge on several occasions. At 7:50, Wynnstay is seen vigorously flapping on the edge of the ledge, very close to her siblings, who seem totally unconcerned, and continue preening (photo). At 8:10, as one of the parents flew nearby the nest, all the chicks were flapping and loudly calling back to it (photo). The chicks were very vocal all evening as they had not been fed since the morning. Another not-so-subtle encouragement for the chicks to fly. Will it be much longer?
PREEN AND PRACTICEWednesday, June 15, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day started with all four chicks on the ledge. Very quiet until around 7:19am when an adult flew in with the first meal of the day. One of the chicks grabbed it and carried it off, but was pursued by the other chicks back and forth along the ledge. The chicks spent the rest of the morning sitting up on the ledge. At 10:08am, both adults flew to the next ledge east of the nest. Judson had some food, which was grabbed by McKeever, who then flew over to Standard Life with it, then off to Stelco, where she stashed it. Later on, there was some maintenance work done on the cooling equipment on the far side of the Sheraton roof. The parents circled and kept watch. The chicks never had any idea who mom was swearing at. At 11:26, McKeever brought a meal, which was grabbed and carried off by Balfour (photo). Around noon, the parents made several more brief visits to the ledge, without food. The chicks kept rushing them, and the adults kept flying off. We think maybe they were hoping a chick would follow them into the air. Dundurn was particularly energetic about charging the adults, and was also seen helicoptering multiple times. After 1:00pm the chicks spent more time down in the scrape, seeking shelter from the hot sun. McKeever joined them around 1:15, and used her body to shade the chick in the near corner for the next hour. Things were relatively quiet until another meal was dropped off at 3:24. After that there was more exercising of wings. Another meal was brought at 7:25. All four chicks clustered tightly around McKeever on the ledge as she kept this prey firmly in claw and fed all of them (photo). They spent the remainder of the evening up on the ledge, alternately flapping and preening out the few remaining bits of white chick down still hidden between their brown flight feathers.
MORE FOOD, MORE FLAPPINGTuesday, June 14, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Early this morning at 5:10am, Dundurn was seen retrieving and eating food from under the ledge though neither of the parents were seen. By 5:32am, all four chicks are on the ledge where they spent most of the early morning. There wasn't much activity seen until 9:19am when Dundurn made a flapping run the length of the ledge, ending at the west end where the other chicks were. Both parents spent considerable time on the southwest corner of Stelco. In the late morning, Dundurn and Balfour were seen on the ledge while Wynnstay and Auchmar were in the scrape. But by the afternoon, all four chicks were in the scrape trying to escape the heat of the glaring sun. At 1:48pm Judson landed on the ledge, and started pulling apart a leftover meal in the far corner, feeding it to a couple of chicks. McKeever made a quick touch-n-go landing, then returned at 2:01pm with another meal and fed Auchmar (photo).
Through the rest of the afternoon, the chicks remained primarily in the scrape, continuing to take shelter from the sun. At 4:44pm, Judson was spotted making a failed attempt in hunting a pigeon, just Southwest of the S.L. building. A little after 5:30pm, Balfour and Dundurn were seen on the ledge again where they would spend most of the time until the night. Their feeding on the ledge at 6:52pm sees some of the prey taken away by the parent to be finished on the north Homewood sign. By 7:40pm all four chicks were on the ledge again until Judson landed with a meal at 8:04pm, which Auchmar was first to get to and spent several minutes picking apart. Outside of preening their few remaining white down feathers, there was not much more activity as the chicks settled down for the night.
GETTING READY TO FLYMonday, June 13, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day began quietly, with all four chicks up on the ledge. An adult landed on the ledge for a few moments at 5:40am, but didn't bring any food. The chicks continued their wing exercises, and there were more long 'practice runs' flapping along the length of the ledge, and some more helicoptering. At 10:40 a meal was dropped by the ledge. It looks like a chick grabbed it from the adult, which took off again within seconds. McKeever brought another about 15 minutes later.
At 11:15 both adults landed on the ledge, one carrying yet another meal. That adult took off almost immediately, and it appears that they dropped the meal. A video of this was shot from the Standard Life building by a volunteer, and posted to our facebook group. McKeever returned to the nest 2 minutes later with more food. This time Balfour snatched it away from her and walked off with it (photos). Around 2:05pm a group of pigeons flew around the David Braley Centre. An adult gave chase at high speed. We didn't see if it caught anything. Later in the afternoon Judson took off from where he had been keeping watch perched on Stelco and chased off a turkey vulture that had strayed too close. Around 5:25 we saw both adults enjoying thermals, soaring way above Standard Life. Perhaps this is their way of encouraging the chicks to join them. None of them did. But it won't be long now.
LIVING ON THE EDGESunday, June 12, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: The day began with an adult flying in from the south west with a meal around 6am. The chicks spent most of their day up on the ledge, with even more flapping. The small bit of rain we had didn't seem to bother them. They only sought shelter for a while when the sun came out. McKeever dropped off some food at 7:43, but did not stay to feed it to the chicks. Another step on the road to teaching the chicks to fend for themselves.
Around 2:09, Balfour was seen perched right at the edge of the ledge, energetically flapping, stretching wings, and balancing. This is both encouraging and a bit of a tense moment for watchers. On rare occasion a chick will lose its footing while doing this. But usually they don't, and these exercises build the wing strength for successful first flights. At 4:48, McKeever was perched on the edge of the ledge, and Dundurn ran and flapped the length of the ledge pushing her off. Very feisty. We also saw our first instances of "helicoptering" today, where the chicks flap their wings hard enough to lift themselves into the air for a few seconds (photo). All the signs are good that these birds will be strong flyers.
ANY DAY NOW....Saturday, June 11, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: All four chicks were on the ledge from 6am through 10 am. At times the adults flew by or landed at the ledge. There was more wing stretching and flapping. Shortly after 10:00 McKeever came to the ledge with a meal, feeding the chicks for a short while, then left the ledge with the food, circled above and in front of the Sheraton, then flew off towards Stelco Tower. She returned without the food, and made a flight past the chicks calling to them. Clearly encouraging the chicks to practice more flapping and to get ready to come join her in the sky.
Around 10:30am an adult was seen chasing an osprey off to the north-west. The chicks moved down into the scrape, seeking shelter from the sun. More food was brought by at 12:37, and again at 1:30. Around 2:30 light rain had started coming down, 3 of the 4 chicks could be seen on the ledge, letting the rain help wash off their white chick down. By 4:05pm the rains had past and all four chicks were back on the ledge. An adult brought another meal at 5:48. The adults are beginning to make a habit of partially feeding a meal to the chicks and then carrying off the rest of it. A very strong recurring theme of enticing the chicks to flight.
ANOTHER FLAPPING DAYFriday, June 10, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Nathan Lewis reports: When I arrived at 9am three of the chicks were on the nest ledge. McKeever was perched on the "R" of the Sheraton sign. All four chicks were up on the ledge by 9:10. Both adults landed on the ledge at 9:31 (photo). Judson had a meal, but it looks like McKeever took it and flew off to the Standard Life building. She returned with it a couple of minutes later and proceeded to feed it to the chicks. Judson perched on the south-east corner of Standard Life.
Throughout the morning we saw a little bit of wing stretching, flapping and steadying. At 10:50 Dundurn had a good burst of energy quickly crossing the ledge and flapping wings. After that, the chicks hid themselves away from the sun. By noon they were out again and we saw some more wing action. This went on for most of the afternoon, with McKeever occasionally circling above the nest, making passes by, and calling to the chicks. The chicks spent the rest of the day alternately out on the ledge and hiding from the sun. They spent a fair amount of this time preening and pulling out their white down feathers. Plenty of fluff was lost today, with their juvenile brown plumage becoming much more noticeable. It's getting closer to flying time!
AUCHMAR GETTING VERY BOLDThursday, June 9, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: When I arrived for my shift, there were 3 chicks already on the ledge and by 9:06, the last, Auchmar, joined them. During their first feeding at 10:52, Dundurn was seen tearing away a portion of the prey and taking it to the east end of the ledge, picking apart the meal by himself. The chicks were seen hopping up and down from the ledge all morning though, notably, Wynnstay remained on the ledge the entire morning. After this, there were no chicks up on the ledge until shortly before their feeding at 1:12pm. When Judson arrived with the food, Auchmar was seen grabbing it right out of his beak, and walking away with it (photos)! Auchmar eventually shares it with Dundurn and Wynnstay. The parents are often seen gliding through the sky and soaring near the ledge through the morning and into the afternoon.
After a period in the afternoon where the ledge was unoccupied, there was another feeding at 2:53 which saw the chicks up on the ledge and quite active again after that. During the short bursts of rain in the late afternoon the chicks often remained on the ledge, while the parents were seen taking shelter on the signs of the Homewood building. There was a feeding at 5:46 which saw all the chicks once more up on the ledge. Through the rest of the evening the chicks were seen flapping occasionally and returning calls with their parents, who continued their flights near the nesting ledge. At 8:10, Mckeever was spotted loudly driving away a turkey vulture. Minutes later, Judson brought a final meal to the ledge and, again, Auchmar grabbed it from him, after which he quickly took off. With the clouds gathering overhead, Mckeever returned to sit on the ledge for the rest of the night while the chicks huddled in the west corner.
EVEN MORE TIME ON THE LEDGEWednesday, June 8, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: There was a feeding at 8:32 during which all 4 chicks were up on the ledge. When I began my shift at 9am, three of them were still up there, only Balfour having hopped down. Wynnstay and Auchmar soon joined him, but Dundurn remained on the ledge for 89 minutes and was seen flapping his wings for several minutes before he finally moved down. During the rest of the morning and early afternoon, a few of the other chicks were seen up on the ledge and stretching their wings and being very vocal, notably, Balfour isn't seen up on the ledge since the initial feeding. During this time, one of the parents is usually nearby on the northwest corners of the Fairclough building or the Stelco building and they are seen doing a few fly-by's and circling in the sky while their chicks watched.
There was a period where the ledge was unoccupied but by the late afternoon, there were 3 chicks up on the ledge again, all but Balfour and they would go on to move on and off the ledge into the evening. As the evening wore on, the chicks on the ledge spent more time resting than testing out their wings. Overall, they were seen spending more time on the ledge today and seemed more comfortable to venture further out on the ledge. At 5:25, the chicks were fed for the first time since the morning. This time, McKeever seemed to restrict the feeding to the chicks on the ledge by ensuring her body was between the food and the scrape, ensuring that all of the chicks were on the ledge at some point during the feeding. Balfour stays up on the ledge after the feeding and by 6:52, we have all 4 chicks on the ledge. They were fed again at 7:30, with McKeever once again luring the chicks onto the ledge by perching at the outer edge (photo). The chicks were still seen on the ledge after the feeding, until the rain urged them back under the ledge where they huddled for the night.
MORE TIME UP ON THE LEDGETuesday, June 7, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: Due to the rain all morning, the chicks did not show much activity, spending most of the time hidden completely under the ledge. Their parents stopped by a few times to check on them but spent most of their time watching from a distance while sitting on different parts of the north facing sign on the Homewood Suites building and occasionally, later on, the northwest corner of the Fairclough building, as well as the north facing sign on the BDC building. Around 12:30, just after a meal, Dundurn hopped up on the ledge, and stayed there for an hour and a half. A second chick was up momentarily but couldn't be recognized due to the rain.
The rain stopped at around 2:30pm. Throughout the afternoon and into the early evening, one of the parents, thought to be Mckeever, completed many slow flights past the ledge, returning loud calls with the chicks, often before returning to the same perch where she started. Clearly encouraging the kids to exercise their wings and get ready to join her in the skies. The chicks had another meal at 2:41, following which Dundurn was seen momentarily on the ledge. Auchmar spent about 15 minutes up at 3:05 where she would be seen stretching and flapping her wings. After another feeding at 6:07pm and Mckeever's continued flights passing by the nest, Wynnstay is seen on the ledge at 6:21 and after that, there are at least 2 or 3 chicks up on the ledge throughout the evening (photo), only Balfour failing to make an appearance. In the hot sun, the chicks were often 'pancaked', laying flat on the ledge. Wynnstay was the last to come down off the ledge at 8:29 and shortly after, an adult sat on the ledge, watching over them until the end of my shift at 9pm.
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FALCONWATCH 2022 BEGINS!Monday, June 6, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: The morning was a little chilly and there was not much activity near the start of my shift. The parents were spotted watching over the nest at 9:45. One was on the next ledge west of the nest, under the "R" of the "Sheraton" sign, the other perched on the southeast corner of the Sheraton roof. After a feeding at 11:30, one of the parents confronted and drove away a turkey vulture and another unidentified bird in the air before spending most of the day on the northwest side of the Fairclough building, and later the Stelco building. There was another feeding at 12:55 before which the prey was dressed over on the Standard Life building.
At 18:21, Dundurn was seen hopping up on the outer ledge where he would spend the next 40 minutes, followed by Auchmar at 18:34, who spent 3 minutes up there before going back into the scrape, to be replaced by Wynnstay at 18:51. McKeever arrived with food at 19:00 (photo). Feeding the chicks from the ledge encouraged 3 of them to hop up for the feeding, all but Balfour. There were a few times where the chicks were spotted up on the ledge afterwards, Dundurn being the most prominent. Another meal was prepared on the Standard Life Building for the final feeding, that lasted from 19:36 to 19:48. That adult left and was not seen after feeding the chicks but the other remained under the "A" on the Sheraton until the end of my shift.
Webmaster's note: In case anyone is not familiar with all of the building names mentioned in our reports (some of which are outdated, we know) here is a labeled Falcon's Eye View of Downtown Hamilton facing south from the Sheraton. More images are in the Gallery section "Where is the nest?"
BOLD CHICKSWednesday, June 1, 2022 - In the last couple of days, the adults have started to feed the chicks from the ledge, to encourage them to hop up. It seems to be working.... Auchmar was spotted hopping up on the ledge for a few seconds at 6:49 this morning, and again around 5:51 this evening. At 6:37, during another feeding, Auchmar jumped up again, and got some food, and then a few minutes later, Dundurn jumped up too. The chicks don't have nearly enough flight feathers to attempt any flights. Fortunately, they know better than to try right now. But this will change in a week or so.
THE CHICKS ARE BANDEDFriday, May 27, 2022 - Here are some screen-captured portraits of our chicks, taken from the banding video, which is now available for viewing. Click here to watch it: 2022 Banding Video.
Today at noon the chicks were brought into the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel and banded. Based on their weights we have two females and two males. Their right leg bands were wrapped in colored tape so we will be able to identify them from a distance. Their names and tape colors are: Wynnstay (female, green tape), Balfour (male, blue tape), Auchmar (female, yellow tape), and Dundurn (male, red tape). If you visit the facebook group (via the button above) you can view some of the live video that was shot this morning. There were several recordings made, so scroll down. An edited video will be posted here soon. Our climber also removed the dead plant, and collected the old white egg for analysis, while McKeever kept expressing her displeasure at his presence (photo).
COMPANY IS COMING!Friday, May 27, 2022 - Shortly after 11am today the chicks will be getting banded. You will see a volunteer climber appear on the webcam, after descending the front of the Sheraton hotel to the ledge. He will collect the chicks and place them into a specially designed carrier box, with separate compartments for each chick, so that there is no risk of them clawing each other. The box will then be raised up and brought into the Sheraton hotel, where the chicks will be weighed (which will give us a good first guess as to their sex) and their legs measured, and bands affixed to them. They will then be returned to the nest. During this time, the climber will remain on the ledge so that the parents never see an empty nest. From their point of view, the chicks "hide", and when the intruder leaves the chicks are fine. It remains to be seen how aggressive Judson and McKeever will be. Usually it takes a few years for falcons to become bold enough to actually try and attack the climber. But they may be seen swooping and diving, and sitting nearby giving the climber a (loud) piece of their mind.
FALCON BUFFET!Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - For those of you who were wondering why we don't see Judson on camera very often, the answer is simple: Just as he did when courting, he brings the meals to McKeever. Then she takes them, cleans them, and feeds the chicks. But as the chicks get bigger and hungrier, both adults hunt. And, on rare occasions, you will see a scene like this, where both adults have returned from a successful hunt at the same time.
Q: When will the chicks start growing their flight feathers?
Here we can see the first stubs of their flight feathers starting to appear under their white down. It will be another couple of weeks before the flight feathers are fully grown and the chicks shed their coat of white. And then the on-street watch begins! If you have been thinking about volunteering, even just for a couple of days, please click the button above. With four chicks we're going to need lots of people!
KEEPING WARMTuesday, May 24, 2022 - When the nights get chilly the chicks will huddle together in a corner of the nest, and sometimes this makes it look like they have disappeared altogether. There's no need to worry. They're still there, and stick their heads out as soon as McKeever arrives with food (photo). Explore the Gallery for many more recent photos.
GROWING QUICKLYSunday, May 15, 2022 - It has been 8 days since our four chicks hatched, and they are already noticeably larger. They will continue to grow with phenomenal speed, and will be almost the same size as their parents in another two weeks. We are still looking for volunteers. With four chicks to chase, we will need a lot of them. Click the Volunteer link above. More close-ups of the chicks in the Gallery.
FEEDING HUNGRY CHICKSWednesday, May 11, 2022 - McKeever and Judson are keeping busy, hunting and bringing lots of food to their hungry brood. All four chicks appear to be doing well. More photos like this can be viewed by clicking the gallery button and then viewing either the 'favorites' or, for everything our camera has seen, select the raw archive. You can also select the option of 'motion detection' as a time range, which will show the moments with greatest movement at the nest.
FOUR LITTLE BEAKSSunday, May 8, 2022 - This morning we awoke to this sight of four chicks, hungrily clamoring for food. After a bit of trial and error yesterday, McKeever figured out the perfect size of morsel to feed her young. A sight we will see many, many times in the coming days. In case it isn't already obvious, we're going to need lots of volunteers to keep an eye on all these chicks as they fly around the downtown area in June and July. Please click the volunteer link now, so you can be notified of the orientation and training session that will be happening in a few weeks. We, and the falcons, thank you!
HATCHING!Saturday, May 7, 2022 - Hamilton has chicks! The first one started to crack through it's shell yesterday, and finally hatched sometime last night. It was looking healthy and strong when we captured a photo of it at daybreak (left photo). You can see another shell cracking in that photo. Over the next three hours we captured some of the best photos we have ever captured of chicks hatching, emerging all pink and damp, and quickly drying off and turning white and fluffy.
Within the last couple of days we finally got a view of four brown eggs, but we still don't know for sure if there is a fifth, or how many more will hatch. At this time it appears that a large piece of shell has wrapped itself around the old white egg, giving the appearance of a two-tone egg (right photo) which can fool us into thinking its a fifth brown egg, so we can't be sure. But we won't be surprised if another chick appears within the next day. Exciting times!
ANY DAY NOWTuesday, May 3, 2022 - Within the last day, falcon watchers have noticed an increased amount of 'fussing' by the adults around the nest scrape. This activity is likely in response to the adults hearing faint noises from the chicks inside their eggs. This means that hatching time is nearly here! With the parapet blocking our view, we might not see newly hatched chicks at first, but one certain sign will be when the adults start bringing food to the nest. If we're lucky, by the end of the week we will catch a glimpse of tiny white fluffy heads as they get fed.
UNWELCOME FLY-BYFriday, April 22, 2022 - It appears another bird flew close by the nest this morning, but we only caught sight of it's shadow on our camera. Whoever it was, McKeever was not pleased with how close they got (photo at left). But neither peregrine gave chase. Instead, for a few moments, Judson joined his mate on the parapet, and they both looked down from the ledge, quite possibly offering the intruder a piece of their mind (right photo). This kind of thing is not unusual during nesting season. Peregrine parents are always on guard. We have just been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that shadow today.
HALF WAY TO HATCHINGSunday, April 17, 2022 - As we reach the mid-point of their month-long incubation, we are pleased to report that McKeever and Judson are proving to be very dedicated to keeping their precious eggs warm. They have fallen into a smooth routine where they take turns sitting in the nest. The photo at left shows a "shift change" as Judson gets up to stretch his wings and McKeever takes over the brooding. This scene is repeated several times each day. The nest was well sheltered from Friday's wind storm, and both falcons came through it just fine. Judson even found a moment to hunt for his mate (right photo).
Since mid-February, we have been occasionally catching sight of a perfectly white falcon egg in the nest. Our best guess is that it is an old egg from Lily's failed clutch last year, which has been bleached white by the elements over the winter. Though there is also a small chance that a burst of unseasonably warm weather triggered a "misfire" in McKeever's biology, and she produced a colorless unviable egg late in the winter. Either way, she never seemed to pay it any special attention. We don't know if she is now including this egg with the others while she broods, but it does seem to roll into view more than the others. So we're thinking that she already knows it is not viable. We still don't know exactly how many new eggs there are in the scrape, but, given the way the ledge hides the scrape, the fact that we can see two of them here makes it quite likely there are two more hidden from view. We still don't know how many will hatch. With the kind of dedication being demonstrated, we have high hopes for all of them. In two more weeks, we will know!
HAS MCKEEVER FINISHED LAYING?Sunday, April 3, 2022 - It was a week ago today that McKeever laid her first egg. Without being able to count them, we have two ways to estimate when McKeever has finished her laying. The first is a simple bit of math. Peregrines generally lay no more than 4 eggs, so, with an average time between individual eggs of about 2 days, the longest laying can last is about a week. On rare occasions, a fifth egg will be produced, which would make tomorrow the last day of laying.
Our other clue is to look at the color of the eggs. A freshly laid egg is much redder than one that has been sitting in the nest for a few days. This photo shows the difference quite clearly. The egg on the left has been laid more recently, while the one on the right has faded enough that we can be quite sure it is the first (or possibly the second) egg laid. Now, the waiting game begins. And in about a month we will see how many of these eggs are viable and actually hatch. With luck, and the youthful vigor of our two adults, we may see a very full nest this year!
GLIMPSES OF EGGSWednesday, March 30, 2022 - This morning, Judson made the wise choice to roll at least one of the eggs under the small overhang on the inner side of the nest ledge (to the right in our camera view), protecting it from the rain/sleet coming down. This gave us a rare chance to catch a glimpse of an egg. Also, in passing, we note that one of their recent meals had yellow feathers.
During the egg laying period, the falcons will be on and off their eggs to keep them cool, and slow the development of the first eggs. Once all eggs have been laid, they will start incubating full time. The end result of this behavior will be that eggs laid over the course of a week should all hatch within a couple of days of each other, so that all their chicks are of equal strength and we don't have a situation where one chick is a week younger than the others and less able to jockey for position among its hungry siblings when food is brought to the nest by their parents. A clever strategy for insuring the survival of all their offspring.
Update: At 6pm this evening, a second egg was rolled into view. Given the likely size and shape of the scrape, the chances are quite good that there is another egg, possibly two, still hidden.
WE HAVE OUR FIRST EGG!Sunday, March 27, 2022 - Updated: There is only one thing we can think of that would make a peregrine falcon sit out in the rain and snow, rather than find a nice shaded perch. And this afternoon we saw McKeever perform a very particular wiggling motion that peregrines do when settling their feathers over an egg. So we are now quite certain that McKeever has laid her first egg. Despite Judson's best efforts to convince her otherwise, she has chosen the same near corner of the ledge which Lily used. This means we cannot see into the scrape itself, so we won't be able to count the eggs. Hopefully we will catch a glimpse of one or two when she rolls them around during brooding. The countdown to hatching begins!
MCKEEVER IS STILL WITH US!Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - Update: McKeever returned to the nest this evening (photo). There is no immediate indication of whether she had any interaction with the unbanded female that hung around with Judson most of the day. With the presence of two females, clearly showing interest in this nest, we are going to maintain our watch for a possible territorial battle, and the small chance that an injured bird could come to ground as a result. So, if you are downtown in the next couple of days, please keep an eye on the skies, and the ground, just in case a bird comes down. Thanks!
COMPETITION FOR JUDSON'S ATTENTIONWednesday, March 23, 2022 (edited) - Shortly before noon today we started seeing a new unbanded female closely interacting with Judson. She was seen claiming a meal from him and eating it right beside him while he worked on the scrape (photo). For most of the afternoon, she was around the nest almost constantly, making us think that this bird had displaced McKeever. But, that turned out to not be the case.
SHERATON HAMILTON - THE DESTINATION OF CHOICE FOR MIGRATING FALCONS
Monday, March 21, 2022 - For the third day in a row, McKeever and Judson had a visitor. This one was another juvenile, and was banded (but sadly we were not able to read them). It's feathers still had juvenile markings, but were not as brown as the bird that visited two days ago. Judson was on the ledge at the time, and briefly expressed his displeasure at the company, before flying off.
Update: Around 5pm, the unbanded juvenile that first appeared two days ago visited the nest ledge again. Judson made his displeasure clear. It looks like he is pointing with a wing, saying, "Get off my ledge!"
YET ANOTHER VISITOR!
Sunday, March 20, 2022 - Sharp on the heels of yesterday's visit by a juvenile, today we saw yet another unbanded adult appear on the nest ledge. This one had unusual white striping on its head, which is how we know it is not the same adult that visited three weeks ago. As with previous visitors, Judson and McKeever were seen before and after this visit. This bird was seen beak-to-beak with another adult in the nest, so it seems that Judson and McKeever are continuing to be highly tolerant of visitors.
A JUVENILE PEREGRINE VISITS!
Saturday, March 19, 2022 - This morning at 10 am, and then again shortly after noon, a young peregrine, still sporting its brown juvenile feathers, landed briefly on the nest ledge. Both times it appears that Judson quickly shooed away the intruder. There were no bands to be seen, so we know it was not a fledglng from this nest or any of the other urban nests that have their chicks regularly banded. Further evidence that the wild population in Ontario is thriving!
In the meantime, we still occasionally see Nemo land on the nest ledge. So it would appear that McKeever and Judson are not yet making a concerted effort to drive off other peregrines. But with eggs expected within the next two weeks, this could change very quickly. Perhaps Judson's quick reaction today is the beginning of that protective behaviour. :)
Thursday, March 10, 2022 - The skies over Hamilton are getting busy! Today, while taking some close-ups of the peregrines, our webmaster realized he was looking at someone new. Fortunately, a clear shot of leg bands was captured, and the bird was quickly identified as "Nemo", a male fledged in 2017 from the Don Mills Harlequin nest.
Judson was seen in the nest ledge less than five minutes before, and again a few hours later, so it seems almost certain that this was another peaceful visit. Given the tremendous diligence with which Judson has been courting McKeever, we're still putting our bets on Judson to be her mate this year. But nature has a way of surprising us. So we'll just need to watch closely, and see what happens when that first egg is laid.
WATCH THAT LEDGE!
Monday, March 7, 2022 - As spring approaches, the peregrines are now visiting the nest ledge several times a day. Judson is seriously courting McKeever now. Yesterday he was seen bringing her two meals within as many hours (photos at left). The pair are often seen in either end of the ledge moving rocks around in one of the two "scrapes" where McKeever might choose to lay her eggs. As in previous years, Judson seems to favor the far end of the nest ledge, while McKeever seems undecided. She is sometimes seen with Judson in the far corner, and sometimes by herself in the near corner.
Will she choose the far corner, with its better shelter from the rain? Judson's serious effort at tending and preparing that scrape might just sway her. And there is also the question of whether there is an old, failed egg in the near scrape from last year. The photo at left seems to show an old egg from the failed 2021 clutch, in the corner, bleached white by the elements. McKeever may not want to lay fresh eggs so close. Or she may just remove the old egg. Either way, we will know in a few more weeks.
In the meantime, the unbanded female has been seen at least one more time visiting the nest ledge. According to falcon watchers who have seen this kind of thing before, it is not unusual for the resident pair to be tolerant of visitors before nesting begins. But once that first egg is laid, no more intrusions will be tolerated. So we might see this extra adult for another week or so, but then she will most likely read the writing on the ledge and move on.
A MYSTERIOUS VISITOR
Monday, February 28, 2022 - Twice in the past week we have seen a third adult peregrine visit the Sheraton Hamilton nest ledge. This bird has not displaced McKeever or Judson, who both continue to be seen on the webcam. The photo at left shows Judson on the ledge with this stranger. He stayed there for maybe 10 seconds before taking off.
With no clear bond established between Judson and McKeever it is not surprising that he would be tolerant of another female, but we're a bit mystified as to why McKeever hasn't chased off this intruder. Falcon watch is asking anyone who is downtown over the next week to keep a close watch on the skies if they hear the sound of falcons. We would be interested to know if there have been any territorial battles.
The newcomer has no leg bands, which indicates that she hatched from an unmonitored wilderness location, probably in Ontario or a nearby U.S. state. A lovely sign that the peregrine population is well on the road to recovery!
HAMILTON, SAY HELLO TO... MCKEEVER!
Sunday, January 30, 2022 - We have finally been able to get enough photos of the leg band on our new female to be sure we have read it correctly! Hamilton Falconwatch officially welcomes McKeever to the Sheraton Hamilton nest! She comes to us from Windsor, Ontario, where she was hatched on the Ambassador Bridge in 2019. She is named in honor of Kay McKeever of the Owl Foundation.
The photo at left shows McKeever and Judson on the nest ledge, along with clippings from the various band photos that we used to make this identification. The right hand photo was taken by Paul Gosselin a few weeks after McKeever's banding in 2019. For Hamilton Falcon Watchers, this means that we have a four year old male and a three year old female - perfect ages for a breeding pair. We have high hopes for seeing a nest full of chicks this summer!
SAD NEWS.... AND SOME COMFORT
Sunday, January 23, 2022 - We regret to announce that downtown Hamilton's resident female peregrine falcon, Lily, passed away this evening. It would seem that her dehydration and frostbite were more severe than they first appeared. This together with the injuries she sustained from some kind of collision were too much for her aging body. At 6:30 she passed away, despite the best efforts of the Open Sky Raptor Foundation and the Owl Foundation (to whom we are extremely grateful).
But there is some comforting news to help offset this sadness.... This afternoon we captured the photo at left, of two adult peregrines on the Sheraton Hamilton nest ledge! We don't know if this implies that some of Lily's injuries were from a territorial battle, or if this new bird is just seizing the obvious opportunity to move in on a nesting territory with only one adult present. Judson appeared a little bit upset, but did not try to drive off the newcomer. So, despite the sadness, it looks like we will not have to worry about having a female for the coming nesting season. We will keep a close watch in the coming days, to see if we can identify the new bird.
A NEW YEAR BEGINS WITH CONCERNING NEWS
Sunday, January 23, 2022 - As our brave peregrines deal with winter snow (picture at left), we received a report that Lily has been rescued from a location on the ground near the corner of Bay St and York Blvd, on the north-west corner of the downtown block that she and Judson call home.
She does not appear seriously injured. No fractured bones. But her weight is down - possibly a sign of her dealing with hypothermia in the dreadful cold of this past week. It was also noted that one of her wings seemed slightly stiff, perhaps evidence of a collision with a building or possibly even a vehicle. We will post updated information as we get it.
BACKGROUND FOR 2022....
This is the seventh anniversary of the arrival of Lily at the Hamilton nest. Strictly speaking, this will be Judson's first year to produce chicks, given the fact that he arrived at the nest while Lily was brooding the (failed) eggs last year.
Lily was banded in 2010 at the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power plant, in Michigan. Judson fledged in 2018 from the Richardson Complex in Buffalo, New York. In a delightful turn of events, one of his parents is Felker who fledged from Hamilton in 2012! So the prodigal (grand)son of Madame X and Surge returns!
Lily last hatched a pair of chicks in 2020, with Ossie. The pair produced several eggs in 2021, but none hatched. Judson arrived just about the time that they should have hatched. A third falcon was seen nearby for several weeks after Judson appeared. We couldn't see its bands, but we're guessing that Ossie lost a territorial battle, but wasn't quite ready to give up on Lily. The other possibility is that another female was accompanyinng Judson, and had hopes to displace Lily. But a momma on her eggs was not something any intruder would want to face. Either way, the extra bird departed a few weeks later.
With the Covid-19 pandemic stretching into its third year, we will still need to be mindful of possible provincial regulations regarding public contact, but our expectation is that we will be able to operate an on-street watch this coming year. So in the coming months we will be seeking volunteers for the Watch. As always, your kind financial assistance makes all the difference, as this pays for our coordinators, who lead the effort to keep our chicks safe.
Many bird species exhibit a trait called 'site fidelity'. If at least one of a pair that used a nest site in the previous year returns, and if there have been no significant physical changes to disturb either the nest itself or the birds generally, they will use the same nest site year after year. Peregrine Falcons are known for site fidelity. This will be the twenty-eighth year the same nest site on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel has been used.
To read FalconWatch Reports from previous years, click on the History button above.
Thank you to all our visitors and supporters for your ongoing encouragement.
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