Hamilton Falconwatch News

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With three out of four chicks having flown early, and the last one probably making the attempt soon, we need as many volunteers as possible this week. Ideally, FOUR per shift, so we have someone dedicated to each chick as they take their first/next shaky flights. Please sign-up online. For instructions on how to do that, and other details, contact volunteer1@falcons.hamiltonnature.org - thanks!



Sunday, June 4, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: This morning, the chicks were in the same places they were the night before. Stipley and Delta were on the east side of the lower roof of the Sheraton. Gibson was still in the nest ledge and Kirkendall was on the highest window ledge on the east side of the Standard Life building. The parents were seen flying by Kirkendall as they had been the day before, unable to feed him as he paced near the north side of the ledge. Food was dropped at the nest ledge at 7:27am for Gibson and at 11am, Stipley was brought a meal which Delta soon joined to share. Stipley spent much of the day flapping vigorously near the south east corner of the Sheraton roof. Gibson spent much of the morning and afternoon looking over at his siblings from the east corner of the nest ledge and flapping.

Kirkendall spent much of the day pruning his down feathers, often being very vocal towards the parents. At 5:10pm, after hanging on for over a day, he finally left the ledge, flying eastwards towards the Sheraton and over to the upper roof of the Sheraton, gaining considerable elevation during the flight. A parent had flown over to the east side of the gratings atop the roof of the Standard Life building to watch the struggle, but afterwards, flew off, probably to hunt. A parent landed back in the same location on the Standard Life building soon after to dress a meal but the other parent was first to drop food on the south east corner of the Sheraton roof, at 5:53pm. Delta was first to the food, then Kirkendall flew down from the upper roof to join her. At 5:56pm, a hungry Kirkendall is seen mantling (spreading his wings over) the food to prevent his sibling from reaching it (photo).

The other parent left the Standard Life building to feed Gibson at 6. There was another feeding for two of the three chicks on the roof of the Sheraton just after 7:30pm. After that there was no significant activity until all three chicks moved west along the south (front) edge of the Sheraton roof towards the nest and settled together in the corner closest to the nest ledge, under our cameras (photo captured early Monday morning). The two parents ended the night perched on the east side grating on top of the Standard Life building, watching over their chicks.


Sunday, June 4, 2023 - Courtesy of Brandon Duquette, here is a photo and video of Kirkendall, shot from inside the window of the Standard Life building where Kirkendall was perched, Saturday at 1:10pm. The video shows McKeever repeatedly gliding past Kirkendall with food, in an effort to tempt him to fly. Thank you, Brandon!

Watch it here: Kirkendall 20230603


Saturday, June 3, 2022 - Falconwatch Coordinator Marzuk Gazi reports: After Delta's rescue earlier in the morning, she, along with Kirkendall (who had been rescued the day before) were released onto the roof of the Sheraton hotel at 8:05 in the presence of an unhappy peregrine parent. With the parent overhead encouraging the chicks back towards the nest, Kirkendall moved along the south ledge of the Sheraton to make an attempt to jump into the nest. At 10:05, he seemed to slip from the ledge and glided to the highest window ledge on the east side of the Standard Life building. Despite the parents loudly flying by to encourage both of them back towards the nest, he would remain there while Delta remained on the Sheraton roof for much of the afternoon. The other two chicks would remain in the nest, though one was up on the ledge considerably more than the other. At 2:01, Mckeever was seen bringing a meal to the roof of the Standard Life building above the ledge where Kirkendall was perched, hoping to coax his flight.

Stipley seemed to be blown off the nest at 3:55. After gliding above King street, he landed in an empty area of the parking lot of the David Braley building, where he was quickly rescued by a group of volunteers. After being assessed by the rescue team, he was deemed to be healthy. He was returned to the roof at 5:30 while two parents circled vocally above. A parent, thought to be Mckeever, settled on the south east corner of the lower roof of the Sheraton from where she would watch over the chicks. Kirkendall remained on the ledge on the Standard Life building throughout the day, having moved along the ledge to the north side. Delta and Stipley were seen on the south ledge of the Sheraton, Delta having moved to the west side towards the nest. Gibson was seen flapping, but he remained in the nest for the night.


Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 4:15 Update: At 3:55pm, Stipley was cleaning his feathers standing at the edge of the ledge with his brother, when it looks like a gust of wind knocked him off balance (photo) and sent him on a long gliding flight across King Street. He landed in the David Braley parking lot, in front of the Falconwatch home base, and was quickly rescued. His flight was described as "graceful" by watchers on the ground, with a very gentle landing. So we have no concerns about his health. We're going to be taking him back up to the roof, to join his sister, soon.


Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 9:00 Update: This morning at roughly 8:25, our two wayward chicks were returned to the roof of the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel. Kirkendall immediately started exploring the roof, while Delta sat still for a few minutes, to assess the situation. Eventually they both ended up in the south east corner area, climbing metal pipes of the old window-washing system (photo). One of the adults (far right) is keeping close eye on them.


Saturday, June 3, 2023 - The official on-street Hamilton Falconwatch kicked off today, with the second rescue of the season. Delta was found to be in good health after spending the night near street level. Once again, it was decided to take the chick out to the Owl Foundation for a check-up. With the two of them out of the nest, it has been decided to return them both to the Sheraton roof today.

We want to thank the people who have begun to fill in the empty shifts on our volunteer schedule. We never imagined things kicking off so early, so we very much appreciate having multiple eyes on the chicks at all times.


Friday, June 2, 2023 - 10:30 Update: Late in the afternoon, Falcon Watchers started to feel a bit concerned that they were only seeing two chicks on the nest ledge. Initially we thought the third chick was just hiding under the overhang at the back of the scrape, as usual. But, as the evening wore on, and we continued to only see two, we began to wonder if another chick had managed to sneak out of the nest. So a search was conducted of the walkways and ledges around the front of the Sheraton, and we eventually found Delta sitting on the edge of a second story roof on the east side of the old Standard Life Building, just above the Anchor Bar patio. She stayed there the rest of the evening, and we're hoping she will stay put until tomorrow when the on-street watch officially begins at 5:30 am.

Did we mention we need volunteers? We need volunteers. Tomorrow. The way our luck is going, the other chicks just might decide to try and fly as well. And they really don't have the feathers for it yet. So keeping track of them is vitally important at this time.


Friday, June 2, 2023 - 4:30 Update: Kirkendall is in excellent health, and did not suffer any injuries from his (mis)adventure today. He will be kept at the Owl Foundation for a few days, allowing more time for him to fully grow his flight feathers and shed the last of his white chick down. He will then be returned to the roof of the Sheraton hotel. Hopefully this minor delay will help make his second flight more successful than the first! This photo was taken by Ryan Iverson at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, just after Kirkendall was rescued. THANK YOU!


Friday, June 2, 2023 - Just before 2pm, Kirkendall either had a slip, or maybe he decided his wings were working well enough to try flying. Either way, he left the ledge, and glided downwards until he reached ground level. He was initially rescued from traffic by Marouane Fattoum, who was passing by when the chick landed on the street in front of the Sheraton Hotel. Kirkendall was brought inside the hotel, where he appeared to be in good condition. He is being taken to the Owl Foundation for a full check-up, just to be sure. All this, of course, one day before the official on-street watch begins!


Sunday, May 28, 2023 - Yesterday we spotted a chick hopping up on the ledge to get better access to a meal that McKeever had brought to the nest. Today, we saw this again. This time we got a closer look, and could see it was Gibson (white tape) who made the leap (middle photo). He stayed up on the ledge for about ten minutes, most of that time on his own, as McKeever jumped down into the scrape, fed the last bits of the meal to the other chicks, then flew away.


Friday, May 26, 2023 - It has been a week since our four chicks were banded, and the feedings haven't slowed down. We can see their dark brown flight feathers starting to come in. In the next week the chicks will lose the majority of their white chick down, and then they will begin testing out their wings. And the on-street falcon watch will begin!


Thursday, May 18, 2023 - 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: 2023 Banding Video.

Today around 1:30 our four chicks were brought into the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel and banded. Based on their weights we have three males and one female. Their left leg bands were wrapped in colored tape so we will be able to identify them from a distance. Their names and tape colors are: Kirkendall (male, blue tape), Gibson (male, white tape), Delta (female, yellow tape), and Stipley (male, red tape), all named for Hamilton neighborhoods. Our climber spent the time while the chicks were inside removing a few small plants from the nest ledge, and keeping an eye on McKeever, who kept a very close eye on him while he collected the chicks (photos).


Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - The chicks are nearly invisible this morning, huddled together in the near corner of the nest ledge, sheltering from the (hopefully) last cold spell of spring. Tomorrow (Thursday) they will have a chance to warm up a bit, as they are brought inside the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel for banding. As can be seen in the photo, they have grown to nearly their full size. But, as yet, they do not have a lot of leg strength, so this is the best time to collect them without any risk of them trying to jump away from the climber.

DONATIONS STILL NEEDED - If you have not already made a donation to Falconwatch, it is never too late to do so. The Coordinator daily reports, the camera images and on-street Falconwatch equipment are all made possible by your contributions. Grants only pay for so much (and some years they are less than others). Please click on the yellow 'Donate!' button above to make an easy tax creditable donation. We and the birds Thank You!


Sunday, April 30, 2023 - Early this morning, McKeever flew in to feed her chicks, and we saw that there was now a third chick eagerly clamoring for food. As we watched the chicks get fed, we began to see the egg in the foreground crack apart, and, over the next half hour, our fourth and final peregrine chick hatched. As is usual, It had a little help from mom, who picked away the edges of the shell. You can see a piece of shell in McKeever's beak in the last photo.

A month ago we mentioned how the adults carefully timed the incubation of the first eggs so that they would all hatch together, and this has now resulted in all four eggs hatching within 24 hours! With four in the nest, we will see a lot of feedings over the coming month. And needless to say, we're going to need a lot of volunteer watchers. If you have some time to spare in June, please click the Volunteer button at the top of this page. Thanks!


Saturday, April 29, 2023 - Just beore 6pm, we caught our first sight of two new peregrine chicks in the Sheraton Hamilton nest. Their white down feathers were already dry, so it seemed likely that they hatched several hours before, while their mother kept them sheltered from the rain. Feeding began almost immediately (photos). We should see the other two eggs hatch within the next day or so.


Saturday, April 29, 2023, 2pm - Just after 8am this morning we noticed the first tiny hole in one egg, then soon saw a crack appearing in another. We knew this was coming as McKeever fussed over the eggs in the last day, listening to the tiny sounds of chicks inside the eggs. She will continue to move and turn the eggs, which helps the chicks peck their way out of their shells. By this evening we expect to see the first little white balls of fluff.


Monday, March 27, 2023 - At 7:59 this morning McKeever laid her fourth egg of the season, with our camera catching a great view as it happened. A half hour later, Judson came in to take over incubation duties from her, and we got a clear look at all four eggs. You can see the color differences between the new egg and the older ones, which have picked up a coating of dust. It is possible that McKeever may lay one more egg. We have had five eggs before, but we have never had all five hatch. So, with good weather and close attention from McKeever and Judson, we have high hopes for seeing four tiny peregrine chicks at the beginning of May.

Falconwatch would like to say a big thank you to the people who have made donations. Your generous gifts have gotten our fund-raising off to a great start! But we still have a long way to go. If you haven't made a donation yet, and would like to help save a peregrine chick, then please click the Donate button above.


Saturday, March 25, 2023 - Early this morning McKeever briefly left her eggs, and we could see that she laid her third egg during the night. Three is not an uncommon number of eggs for a peregrine clutch. But neither is four. So we will be watching closely Monday, to see if she lays another.

EGG #2!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - Right on time, McKeever has laid the second egg of the 2023 nesting season. We should see the next one on Friday. I think this is the perfect time to let people know that Falconwatch is running lower on funds than it has in previous years. We really, seriously need people to make donations, to help us build up the funds necessary for hiring our coordinators, pay for radios, and so on. If you can help out, please click the Donate button above. Thanks!


Monday, March 20, 2023 - Spring is officially here, and Hamilton's Peregrines are celebrating with their first egg of the season. Eagle-eyed falcon watchers spotted McKeever showing off her new egg around noon today. As usual for Peregrine clutches, the first egg will not be incubated full time, but will be allowed to stay cooler, slowing its development. McKeever will likely lay 2-3 more eggs in the coming days, each one about two days after the previous one. By slowing the first egg's development, she makes it more likely that all the eggs will hatch within a day of each other, insuring no chick has a size disadvantage when they all start clamoring for meals. In about 40 days, the sound of Peregrine chicks will once again be heard high up on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel!


Sunday, January 1, 2023 - A new year begins with the usual January warm spell, and our resident adult pair make another routine visit to the nest ledge to check up on it, and make sure everything is in proper shape for the nesting season that will begin in March.


After their first successful year together, fledging four chicks, Judson and McKeever are spending the winter in Hamilton, where there is ample food, and warm spots to shelter from the worst of the winter weather. This will be McKeever's second year at the Hamilton nest, and Judson's third.

Judson arrived in Hamilton at the end of the nesting season in 2021. He came to us from Buffalo, New York, where he fledged from the Richardson Complex in 2018. 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 has returned. He arrived too late to mate with Lily, who, sadly, fell ill and died early in 2022, so, apart from a brief time keeping Lily company on the ledge, his first and only mate has been....

McKeever, fledged from a nest on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, in 2019. She is named in honor of Kay McKeever of the Owl Foundation. Her arrival was first noticed on January 22, when we observed that there were still two adults landing at the nest ledge while Lily was being cared for at the Owl Foundation. A quick check of our webcam archives showed that McKeever had been present for a few days by that point. We don't know if she had a territorial battle with Lily which resulted in the latter being too injured to survive, or whether Lily had taken ill and this newcomer had simply filled in the void left by Lily's absence. In any event, McKeever was quickly accepted by Judson, and the pair produced four chicks their first year together.

While peregrines are normally a migratory species, sometimes they choose to spend the winter in their nesting territory if there is enough food to last through the winter. 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 this trait. This will be the twenty-nineth 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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