Hamilton Falconwatch News
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Our three young Peregrines have fledged from the nest ledge and are busy continuing to learn to be Peregrines. We wish them well. If past practice holds, Madame X and Surge will stay in the downtown area through the fall and winter, after the juveniles have (likely) left town late this summer. The picture at left, taken at 06:06 on June 21, shows all three youngsters together a few hours before Albion took the first chick flight for 2006.

July 9, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Today was my last official day of observation. The chicks were scattered on different roof tops feasting on pigeons brought by Surge (or the pigeon fairy as Audrey calls him). For the first time in a couple of nights we had all birds in view simultaneously. At approximately 7:30PM, Sherman tried to run a gull out of the area, but the gull made a quick turn and reversed the run on her. The gull left after it got the last word. Again the girls joined in on a stunning display above the Fairclough building around 8:00pm. They have truly come a long way with their flying. I am very lucky to have had this opportunity to work with such generous people who have a deep appreciation for these birds. To watch the three chicks fledge and morph into these majestic creatures was an unforgettable experience that I will forever treasure. Thank you to everyone I had the pleasure to meet. I am hooked now. I will be returning from time to time to see how Albion, Webster and Sherman progress.

July 8, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Other than chasing the odd gull and a short display this evening, with the heat the birds didn't do much flying today. It was a great opportunity to observe them being still. Often people ask what the features that distinguish each bird are. Albion's main distinguishing features are her yellow feet and almost circular cheek patches. Her moustache is also a little more pronounced than her younger siblings. Webster has blueish feet, slightly larger than the other two and is also darker along her back. Sherman appears smaller compared to her sisters and has a redder hue to her head than the other two. As many Falconwatchers are aware, Sherman is also quite vocal and feisty.

July 7, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Webster was successful in chasing out a group of Ring-billed Gulls this morning and actually made contact with one. The gull appeared to be in fine condition afterward. Albion, Webster and Sherman carried out their usual aerobatic display at the usual time, between 5:30 and 7:00 this evening. With three food drops between 5 and 9PM, the three spent a good part of the evening eating. Around 6:45PM Albion and Sherman hassled over a pigeon on the Fairclough building. Albion reached the food first, but Sherman would not give up until she succeeded in getting her fair share. After the girls finished their meals they enjoyed some light flying, finally settling on Fairclough at 9:15pm.

July 6, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: This morning I had the pleasure of watching Albion closely from the Stelco tower while she perched on the Fairclough building. She is really starting to morph into a majestic Peregrine. Her moustache is becoming more pronounced, her feet are becoming brighter and she is looking sleeker. All of the girls were again in fine flying form today. Sherman is becoming more territorial and possessive of the Sheraton nest ledge. Every time another chick or adult tried to land there, she would screech and run them off. We have come to recognize Sherman by her vocalizations - she is not afraid to share her opinion!

July 5, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Sherman's flying skills have improved greatly. This morning she chased a V formation of Canadian Geese...identity crisis? She couldn't quite catch up but she gave them a good scare. As soon as the geese realized there was a Peregrine hot on their heels, the V formation split up pretty quickly. She was also seen chasing a chimney swift. Later in the evening, Albion and Webster flew west chasing a Mallard. All three birds flew out of sight, so we were unable to confirm whether there was contact with the duck, but they returned empty handed. We also received a call today from a fellow Falconwatcher saying that he had seen a chick on St. Joseph's Hospital around 3:30pm that may have taken prey. The aerial displays were nothing short of spectacular this evening. With synchronized barrel rolls and dives it was like watching a well choreographed dance.

July 4, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The girls did some flying between buildings today, but with the heat and humidity, they took it easy on the usual aerobatics display. Sherman got herself in a precarious position; while her sisters headed to the Stelco tower for bedtime, she landed on the window ledge of the Prime Minister suite at the Sheraton. She looked rather uncomfortable and awkward. We weren't quite sure if she was going to be able to get herself in the proper position to fly to Stelco for the evening, but then along came Surge with a bedtime snack and she was off in a New York minute. Albion and Webster had already headed to bed and missed out on these goodies. Falconwatch 2006 is over, but we are continuing to keep an eye on the birds on a split shift for another few days and will keep you posted on their doings. Anyone interested in volunteering to help keep an eye on the birds next year can contact us by email at: falconwatch@hwcn.org

July 3, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The American Kestrel was back again today with a vengeance. He brought his friends. At 08:30 three Kestrels came into the area and harassed the chicks, who were resting on an antenna. Madame X and Surge were out of sight and didn't come to their defense. The chicks were pretty passive and did not retaliate. The Kestrels finally gave up and left them alone. The chicks didn't appear to have any injuries, except maybe to their pride. Albion, Webster and Sherman showed off their aerobatic skills this evening, demonstrating dives, rolls, grappling, chasing and food transfers. Albion made a food grab and took it the corner of the Standard Life building to settle down to eat. Along came Webster, who landed beside her sister and in a flash grabbed the meal and flew away. A chase ensued and in the process the food was dropped. Madame X made sure they didn't go hungry and provided a steady supply this evening. The chicks are becoming more aggressive with the adults when they are dropping off food, so the adults are in and out with the goods, then gone in a flash.

NEWS!! Two of the 2004 chicks have been identified as nesting elsewhere, one in the southern USA! See the History section for details.

July 2, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The three ‘young ladies’ were well fed again today. This evening alone we saw two food transfers and a food drop. Madame X made a nice pass to Webster, who quickly took the meal to the Robert Thompson building. She guarded the pigeon well from her sisters and when the coast was clear plucked it and ate until she was full. After eating about half she then flew west to the antenna on the apartment building to join her sisters. Over the past few days we have noticed that Madame X has a new behaviour. At dusk she has been flying over to the chicks, who have been perched on this antenna west of the Sheraton, and coaxing/leading them east to the Stelco tower for bedtime. Neat!

July 1, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Today the girls put on spectacular displays - Canada Day fireworks couldn't even compete! They were soaring and rolling, playing talon tag and chasing each other around the downtown area. The large antenna on an apartment building to the west got a couple of visits by at least two of them at a time. They are improving their hunting and handling skills. Webster took a beautiful pass of food from Madame X. It was flawless. They continue to fly into uncharted territory, keeping us on our toes, literally, but did return to the Stelco tower to settle in for the night. There was a great turnout of watchers during the day to wrap up the last day of the volunteer Falconwatch. A special thanks to all of the volunteers for their support and a job well done!

June 30, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The girls spent most of Friday flying and having fun. Aerobatics were again the order of the day, with lots of barrel rolls, dives and talon touching. Albion demonstrated just how high she could fly; she caught a thermal and kept rising into the clouds until she was out of sight. Albion also tried her hand at hunting again - very close, but no cigar. Webster teamed up with Albion to chase a Ring-billed Gull out of the area. Sherman tried to join in, but was a little delayed and only caught the tail end of the escapade. When the chicks weren't flying, it was like the WWF. They were chasing and pouncing on each other on the roof tops (‘leap falcon’). Madame X and Surge periodically made food drops and transfers. Just before bedtime, Madame X came by with a tasty morsel to coax the chicks off an antenna on which they were all perched. It worked!

June 29, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Today, when the chicks weren't running around on the roof tops enjoying the rain, they were busy flying! They flew throughout the day as they slowly expanded their home territory. Talon tag, diving, barrel rolls and food transfers from the adults to the chicks were all demonstrated. Absolutely stunning displays! The most momentous event of the day came this morning before 6AM when one of the chicks actually chased and made contact with a pigeon. She didn't maintain the prey this time, but it's a just a matter of time now before she won't have to rely on mom and dad to prepare her dinner. Not long after this (see Webcam Favouties in Gallery) two of the girls returned to the nest ledge to share a breakfast item one of the adults had delivered. There were several altercations again today between Madame X and a tenacious American Kestrel. The Kestrel flew into the area three times, dive bombing Madame X each time before heading north. She has been very patient with this Kestrel...so far!

June 28, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Another hot and humid day, but it didn't stop the girls from getting into a flying frenzy. They were already in the air at 5AM when the first volunteers arrived, and spent a good portion of the day flying and chasing. The flight and landing skills of all three are improving tremendously. Albion looks like an old pro. Webster went on an extended excursion around from the BDC to Copps Coliseum, demonstrating dives and figure 8s. They are all taking longer and higher flights, and are definitely enjoying their newly discovered flying skills. All three sisters were seen flying together on a few occasions today, proudly showing off talon touching and barrel rolls. When they weren't flying, they were seen grappling on the roof with old carcasses, playing ‘leap falcon’, and of course the carrying on normal sibling rivalry activity of playing tug of war over scraps.

June 27, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: While the humidity combined with a couple of very large meals made for some pretty laid back chicks today, there were some great moments of activity. Watching the chicks take turns splashing and bathing in the puddles accumulated on the rooftops was quite comical and a treat. All of them are improving their control with each flight. Sherman is gaining more altitude and confidence, successfully taking a transfer of food in the air from Madame X and then landing on the Standard Life building with it. Webster ran over and a tug of war ensued, but both chicks got their full share. Around 5PM a Ring-billed Gull made several very loud passes at one of the chicks, swooping in very close but not getting a rise out of the adults. A little while later a male American Kestrel did the same to Madame X, who was quietly watching over things from a perch on top of the Sheraton. She didn’t rise to that either. All in all a quiet day. Tomorrow may not be!

June 26, 2006 – Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: At 5AM the morning crew was surprised to find all three chicks on the Stelco tower where they went to bed last night. Area office occupants arriving for work were concerned that the plaintive cries they heard could be nothing short of catastrophic, but it was just the girls putting in their breakfast orders. The two older chicks had a busy morning, taking high long flights and keeping Falconwatchers on their toes. Sherman made a short flight back to the Thomson building and passed the day running and flapping, exercising and stretching. She made several short flights to other parts of the Thomson roof where Albion or Webster joined her on occasion to play tag, explore and preen each other.

The afternoon was fairly quiet, but Falconwatchers got an eyeful this evening when Albion and Webster again took high long flights to the roofs of Stelco, Standard Life and Fairclough. At one point Albion chased after Surge in a high speed soaring and diving exhibition that had her fairly rocketing around the neighbourhood. When it was time to catch her breath she made a perfect landing, a reassuring display of increasing stamina and strength. She’s come a long way from sitting with pigeons!

This evening one of the older girls couldn’t resist the sight of Madame X plucking dinner on top of Stelco and came to pester her mom, ultimately perching on the window ledge of the watch floor right in front of Falconwatchers on duty in the tower. They were fascinated to see Madame X arrive with the reward seconds later. The chick, believed to be Albion, took indisputable ownership of the meal, mantling it and screeching loudly. Satisfied that she had displayed ownership properly, she settled down to a well-earned meal. Increasingly, we observe the adults use food to make the chicks work for their meals, although they still get some of their meals hand (beak?) fed. After the chick had her fill she moved away, but when Madame X returned to feed on the leftovers, daughter would have none of it, flying at her mom and pushing her off the ledge. A milestone on her way to fending for herself.

While the other girls were busy higher up Sherman enjoyed room service, then flapped, galloped and ‘shermied’ the evening away. She finally took the short commuter flight back to Stelco, where she was joined by the others; all three settled in for the night to rest up for another big day.

June 25, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The birds kept everyone on their toes today! The chicks were flying from the Sheraton to the Fairclough to Stelco and back. It was a flurry of Falcons. Albion has started to show hunting instincts. She chased a Chimney Swift for a good distance above the Copps Plaza. Webster and Sherman are also showing signs of improvement in their agility. Webster practiced attacking what looked to be a piece of rubber on the roof of the Thompson building, getting used to those big feet! The chicks are all becoming more familiar with their surroundings; they were captivated by a satellite dish that was recently installed on the Robert Thompson building. They spent a fair bit of time climbing on it and playing with the cable. Surge put another Ring-billed Gull in its place today after it buzzed Sherman. When will those gulls learn?

June 24, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: No longer home alone - Sherman has left the building!!! At 7:45 this evening Sherman took her first flight. (The photo at near left shows her about 30 seconds before she took off.) Surge had flown by with food about 15 minutes earlier, and Albion and Webster were engaged in a feeding frenzy on the roof of the Sheraton. Eating was obviously the motivating factor for Sherman because she did an absolutely tremendous first flight out and around, landing back on the Sheraton with ease. Once there it didn't take her long to run over and grab some dinner. After the meal, Sherman and Webster hung out on the roof of the Sheraton catching up on old times, preening each other and inspecting objects.

By this time Albion was busy on the Robert Thompson building eagerly devouring a pigeon that Surge had dropped off; she didn't take a breather until it was picked clean. It's amazing that Albion was able to fly after that meal, but she managed to circle above the Copps Coliseum plaza a few times to gain altitude and landed beautifully. Other highlights of the day involved talon touching displays early in the morning between the parents and Albion. At 12:50PM a pesky gull buzzed Webster. It didn't take long for Surge to set some boundaries with that gull - he put on a fantastic show right above the Board of Education Parking lot for everyone to see. All in all it was a great day for the final first flight and comforting to see that all the girls are in top form. Now the fun begins!

June 23, 2006, 9:30PM - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Albion spent the day flying back and forth between the Standard Life, Sheraton and Fairclough buildings. Her flight is very smooth and her landings are solid.

At 9:32AM Webster (we’re pretty sure) decided to try out this flying thing. The picture at left shows her seconds before she took off from the Sheraton. What a first flight! She looped around the Sheraton and towards Albion who was on Fairclough, then decided at the last minute to turn back to the Sheraton, where she landed fairly well for a first timer. Albion then flew over to join her sister on the roof and they spent some time inspecting strange structures, playing in the gravel and chasing each other. Albion ended up on Fairclough later in the day, where Madame X dropped off some food that she eagerly devoured. Webster flew back and forth from the Sheraton to the Stelco tower a couple of times, and was still there at dusk. Meanwhile, back at the nest, Sherman has no intention of being left behind - she flapped with all of her might throughout the day and took air on a few occasions. She won't be far behind.

June 23, 2006, 10:00AM - Senior Monitor Mike Street reports: What a morning! At 05:11 Albion ‘greeted’ the first Falconwatcher of the day with a wing wave. A minute later she was airborne, flying strongly over the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Hamilton Wentworth School Board building all the way back to the south-west corner of the lower roof on Standard Life. A short time later she flew out over King St. and back to the upper roof of Standard Life. Both adults came in to check her out, then Surge went to the south-east corner of that roof and urged her to come over to – FOOD! – her first in almost two days. The other chicks were not happy to see their sister eating while they were not. Around 06:40 Albion tried to fly to the roof of the Sheraton but didn’t quite make it. Surge came in quickly and flew below her as she went back to Standard Life. At that point the local American Kestrel – gutsy, but dumb – flew in and started making passes at Albion. Surge, who had just flown to the Stelco building, came roaring back and chased the kestrel away. And that was just the 5-7 shift!

June 22, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: It's official! The chick that ‘flew the coop’ is indeed Albion. While she was perched on Hamilton Place last evening HCPP volunteers were able to confirm the numbers on her leg band. Albion started her Thursday off on the stairwell railing above the Hamilton Place stage door (by the bus depot) and remained there for most of the day. At one point she was joined by a pigeon which perched right beside her on the railing...irony at it's best. By 6:20PM she had built up the confidence to fly to the roof of the Centenary United Church on the corner of MacNab and Main St. She was then harassed by the resident robins...oh the shame! Her last trip for the evening was a beautiful controlled flight and landing on the south side of Hamilton Place. One robin was tenacious and followed to continue the berating.

Meanwhile, 'back at the farm’, the parents had a busy day hunting and feeding Webster and Sherman, who are ever curious as seen at left. Those two gave us a couple of scares today when they were running on the ledge. Madame X and Surge were seen running off a Turkey Vulture at one point, and later chased a Red-tailed Hawk. Around 8 in the evening Madame X also struck an unidentifiable bird. There was tons of interest today by passers-by. It was really great to see Falconwatchers who normally only view the website, out on the street getting involved and stopping by to say Hello. Our thanks to all for another job well done.

June 21, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: And we have liftoff! The picture at left shows Albion flapping at the edge of the nest ledge at 11:33 this morning. In the next image, taken 30 seconds later, there are only two chicks in the nest. It was a beautiful first flight. She flew to the NW corner of the Fairclough building with grace, but then stumbled down the building to the top of the Hamilton Convention Centre. Unharmed and just a little frazzled by her new adventure and surroundings she was very curious, even taking time to investigate a chimney on the roof. Madame X and Surge spent the day circling the building, keeping a close eye on their girl. In the evening, Albion took another flight from the top of the Convention Centre to the south side of the Fairclough building and landed on a sloped ledge. We are hoping she can hang on there until morning, or can get to a more comfortable position. Everyone involved did a superb job, manning all posts within seconds and donating even more of their time to stay and help out. Many thanks to everyone involved. It truly was the longest day of the year, but an exhilarating one! The folks who showed up for the nature walk this evening were not disappointed. Way to go Albion!!!!

June 20, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Gorgeous weather today! The sun was shining bright but there was a nice cool breeze to cool everyone off. The chicks did their usual flap and run on the ledge all day again, giving everyone a coronary. Just before noon five Turkey Vultures were seen circling west of Bay Street. The adults didn't seem to be bothered until one TV came too close - they sent him/her packing in short order. At 8:30 this evening a VERY gutsy pigeon decided to land on the roof of the Sheraton directly above the nest...the pigeon is obviously not from around these parts! Lucky for the pigeon the parents didn't notice, but the chicks were very curious. However, even a dangling pigeon just wasn't enough incentive to get a chick to fly. Oh well, maybe tomorrow!

June 19, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The morning started off with some well needed rain. The chicks took full advantage and had a ball taking their first bath in a while. The parents spent a good portion of the day feeding the chicks and performing flying demos trying to entice at least one of them into the air. When Surge performed aerobatics above them the synchronized girls looked like they were watching a tennis match. The chicks also watched with excitement while Madame X chased out the neighbouring American Kestrel yet again, and shortly after that a Turkey Vulture. (Yesterday the adults chased the fourth Bald Eagle in ten days, this time an immature bird, and managed to nip a few feathers from its tail!) Later this afternoon a thunderstorm rolled through, but the volunteers managed to stay dry. The evening was pretty quiet. Female Peregrines are known to take their first flights from the nest later than males so the fact that they have not flown yet is not too surprising, but that also means it won’t be long before one of them takes off!

An opportunity to visit Falconwatch

We have enjoyed seeing old Falconwatch friends and meeting new people. A recent visitor was Barb Beasley, a descendant of historic Hamiltonian Richard Beasley, for whom we named our chick Beasley in 2002. If you have wanted to visit Falconwatch but have not yet had the opportunity to do so, please join us on Wednesday, June 21 when the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club Wednesday Night Walk makes its annual visit at 6:30PM

Directions: From Highway 403 take the Main Street East(bound) exit and follow Main Street approximately 2km downtown to Bay Street, then turn left and go half a block. There is a large Municipal parking lot on the south west corner of Bay and King Streets (bring change for park and display machines). The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board parking lot is located directly across Bay Street. The walk this year is featured as a ‘Doors Open to Nature’ event in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Ontario Natures.

June 18, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: What a gusty day! With the wind that was swirling around downtown today I was convinced one of the chicks would be flying, voluntary or not. For a brief period around 09:30 Albion had her left foot away from the ledge and looked liked she may teeter off, but she caught herself. The adults are still trying their darnedest to convince the chicks to come fly with them, but so far they won't bite. Tomorrow is a whole new day. Maybe Albion will finally take the plunge?

June 17, 2006 – Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Gusty breezes all day and evening kept the heat from becoming oppressive and the chicks from getting bored. Again today all three spent the majority of their time on the ledge with much serious flapping. More than once Albion had good lift and it seemed she was on her way, but not quite. Sherman is still white from the waist down and spent much quality time flapping away and shedding fluff. Madame X and Surge spent hours swooping and diving by the nest, demonstrating figure eights and landing approaches; in fact everything but feeding the girls. Last fed about 10:30AM, they were anxious for room service all evening and the screaming got so loud that hotel guests were looking out their windows to see what the ruckus was about. It was easy to imagine cartoon thought bubbles for the peregrines…’Feed me, and then I’ll fly.’ ‘Fly, then I’ll feed you.’ ‘You go first.’ ‘ No, you go first.’ ‘Stop cooking with cheese.’ By 9:30PM the sisters resigned themselves and turned in for the night. All in all it was a peaceful, pleasant day except for the hollering. Hard to believe it was just baby birds making all that noise.

June 16, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Up. Down. Up. Down. That’s the way things went today. The chicks were on and off the ledge, exercising their wings and getting more courageous. A sure sign that we are getting close to a first flight came today. The adults were trying to coax the chicks by landing on the ledge and circling above the nest. Here they come!

June 15, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The chicks were exercising their wings intermittently through out the day, but became most active later in the evening. All three were frequently on the upper ledge ast the same time. Albion is really starting to look like Madame X. Webster and Sherman are coming along beautifully. The feedings were sparse today; in the last one Madame X just left the food in the scrape for the chicks to fend for themselves. No exciting chases of other raptors. We may have first flight any day now.

A Mr.E. no more!

While some of the habits of Madame X’s new mate are still new to us, his identity is a Mr.E. (mystery) no more. Falconwatchers have enjoyed getting to know the new resident male, a small handsome fellow. He can steal into your range of view without detection and leave you wondering how you missed him arrive and how long he has been right in front of you! Often perched on the ’S’ of the Standard Life building, he is so compact and sleek he blends right in, suggesting that he chose the S for Stealth. But no, it’s ‘S’ for Surge. Hatched and banded in Etobicoke in 2002, Surge spent at least part of the last two seasons trying to establish a nest at the Burlington Lift Bridge. This swift, agile bird has convinced potential predators and volunteers alike that he is well named. This evening he surprised and impressed volunteers when he laid on a surge of speed to nab a pigeon perched on the front of the Sheraton Hotel.

June 14, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: When Madame X and Mr. E weren't in the scrape shading the chicks they were busy defending their territory and hunting. The first incident occurred around 11AM when the adult falcons took on a Red-tailed hawk that was flying through the area. After a few hard hits the Red-tail was seen spiraling toward the ground a few streets away, although a search of the area failed to turn it up. Later in the day, close to 3PM, Madame X chased away a high-flying adult Bald Eagle. What a sight that was! Later, a few of the Falconwatch crew witnessed Mr. E taking down an unsuspecting pigeon that had – very dumbly - landed on the ledge of the Sheraton under the S, about 50 feet from the chicks! This evening all three chicks were on the ledge together simultaneously for the first time.

June 13, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: It was snowing down today as the chicks were flapping their wings vigorously and releasing the small white feathers that have kept them warm the past few weeks. As their new brown juvenile feathers grow in they are quickly transforming into the majestic Peregrine right before our eyes. Albion is at a more advanced stage than Webster and Sherman, but they are not far behind. It seems safe to say that we should have a first flight by next week!

June 12, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: The first official day of Falconwatch 2006 was an exciting one. You can really see the chicks emerging into Peregrines now! Albion’s face markings are becoming more distinctive. Each chick was up on the ledge at some point during the day, curious about things happening around them, which included the parents chasing away a Turkey Vulture and Madame X being harassed by American Kestrels. One volunteer was fortunate to be looking the right way at the right time and witnessed Madame X capturing a dove on King St. in front of the Standard Life building. With the combination of the beautiful weather and returning volunteers, it was a great opening day for Falconwatch 2006.

June 11, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Another gorgeous day for Falconwatch. The excitement started almost as soon as the sun was up, with Albion growing more curious and brave. She had a couple close calls today, getting very close to the ledge. Later in the day a second chick (I think it was Webster) joined Albion on the ledge. She was a little more reserved however. Albion continued to be very active, proving her moxie when she grabbed a pigeon carcass from Mr. E and ran off with it to the corner to devour as much as she could before the others could get to it. It didn't take long before Sherman and Webster caught on and feverishly ran over to get their share. The day ended with a snack before they settled in for the evening.

Tomorrow (Monday, June 12) will be the first day of dawn-to-dusk coverage by volunteers. Keen Falconwatchers from previous years have been anxious to start keeping an eye on our chicks and now their time has come!

June 10, 2006 - Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen reports: Today was great - you could not have asked for a better day for Falconwatch! The sun was shining and the breeze was refreshing. Albion was up and down in brief spurts to check things out, but for the most part the chicks were laying low today. Madame X took advantage of this quiet time and caught a nap later in the day. She must be preparing herself for what’s to come! Mr. E was off catching tasty morsels for the trio most of the day, but did take a break to admire his handsome reflection in the Standard Life building.

June 10, 2006: Welcome Falconwatch Coordinator Melanie Whalen. Yesterday Melanie familiarized herself with Hamilton's downtown community, meeting local building managers and getting to know the resident peregrines. All three chicks have had lengthy sojourns up on the ledge this week - as can be seen at left, two of them were up at the same time with Madame X and are relaxed and curious about their newly expanded world.

The increasing winds in the late afternoon gave the girls the inspiration to stretch and even do a bit flapping up on the ledge. Of course it's hard for them to squeeze other activities into their full schedule of eating and sleeping, sleeping and eating, and sleeping... Madame X and Mr. E. are keeping a steady supply of food arriving to fuel the rapid development of their teenage daughters. Madame X still feeds the chicks but has also started introducing larger pieces of food so the youngsters learn how to handle it in order to eventually feed themselves. At lunch time Albion and Webster played tug of war with a pigeon drumstick.

It was a perfect Falconwatching evening with lovely fresh weather and nicely moving air. Everything the girls and a falconwatcher could ask for.

June 9, 2009: Last year was the first since the Peregrines arrived in Hamilton that a mostly white, down-covered chick has gotten up on the ledge. In 2006 it happened again, and four days earlier. This is the trickiest time in the youngsters' fledging period, designed by Nature to give fits to Falconwatchers. This picture, taken at 06:39 this morning, shows how dark the chicks' feathers have turned in only a couple of days. Several days earlier than planned, Falconwatch 2006 is underway, with dawn to dusk coverage of the nest site.

June 7, 2006: As can be seen from the picture at left, captured just after 6PM yesterday, the chicks are being well looked after by the parents and growing like the weed that is no longer in the nest. Watch the webcam pictures from time to time. You will see, especially when they exercise their wings, that their feathers are quickly turning brown. On Monday one of them even - Oh No! Not yet please! - got up on the ledge. Falconwatch will start next week.

June 2, 2006: Fans of the falcons watched via webcam and live on monitors this morning as climber John Millar dropped down to the ledge, gathered the three chicks into a carrying bag and passed them up. Inside the birds were weighed, banded, gendered and named. For the first time at the Hamilton Sheraton nest all the chicks are female. In keeping with HCPP’s practice of naming the birds after important Hamilton personages and sites, the source of this year‘s names is the many waterfalls for which the city is known. Meet ALBION, SHERMAN and WEBSTER!

Mother Madame X kept our climber company on the ledge when the youngsters were inside, while father Mr. E made a couple of passes and watched from the adjacent Standard Life building. Another piece of good news - the ‘mystery of Mr. E’ may soon be resolved. A HCPP member was able to see Mr. E’s plastic bands clearly in a telescope while he (the falcon!) was sitting on Standard Life. The number-letter combination will be passed on and with luck we will find out where Mr. E was born and banded. Stay tuned. Hamilton’s Divas will not remain white or small for long.

Check out the Webcam Favorites Gallery for an extraordinary sequence of photos of the chicks being fed between 09:10-09:25 Tuesday morning (May 30)!

June 1, 2006: Tomorrow morning our birds will get their official ID bracelets and names. Shortly after 9AM Friday rock climber John Millar will descend to the nest ledge and collect the chicks for transfer into the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, where they will be banded.

Biologists will weigh and measure them, and determine gender based on their weights. The climber, who will remain on the nest ledge during the chicks’ absence, will draw fire from protective parents, Madame X and Mr. E. While on the ledge, John will collect the unhatched fourth egg which will be submitted for contaminant analysis. We hope he will do a little weeding while he passes the time.

May 31, 2006: The extreme heat of the past few days has slowed the chicks down somewhat but has not delayed their growth in the least! They can often be seen flopped out during the hot part of the day, looking for all the world like ex-peregrines, but they are fine. Staying prone and inactive, and holding their beaks open and panting, are how they cope with the high temperatures Mother Nature has thrown our way. The adult birds also use their bodies to shade the youngsters in the same way they protect them from rain. Since Peregrines get the majority of their body moisture from their prey, dehydration in a heat wave is not a risk. The adult falcons have both recently been seen drinking from roof puddles, and we know that they enjoy splashing around in the water as much as the youngsters do, so they will probably be as happy to see the showers promised in our forecast as Falconwatchers will.

The chicks will be banded in the days to come and it won't be long before they can get up on the ledge. Madame X, although often not visible in webcam pictures, is in fact close by - she frequently perches right on the camera! Her mate is in the neighbourhood keeping watch, hunting and trying to stay cool himself.

May 17, 2006: While it now appears that the fourth egg will not hatch, our young falcons are thriving under the attentive care of Madame X and her mate. All three chicks, the youngest now a week old, are growing like the weed you see in the foreground of the nest picture. The chicks are now old enough that the adults no longer have to brood them constantly. In the warmest part of the day Madame X is leaving them seemingly unattended, but when she is not on the nest she is very close by. The male is currently providing most of the meals, which Madame X often fetches from him at another ledge on the hotel or other nearby building. This afternoon the babies had a fine feathered umbrella to protect them from the inclement weather.

May 10, 2006: HCPP volunteers were pleased to have a clear view of three peregrine chicks this afternoon when the nest was left unattended for a few moments as Madame X joined the adult male in hot pursuit of a passing golden eagle. The adult peregrines chased the large raptor through neighbourhoods far to the south and west to ensure the safety of their nest. It was a remarkable sight to see the small peregrines attack a bird so much larger than themselves.

The new adult male, as yet unidentified, was conspicuous by his absence for much of the incubation period, when he wasn't actually on the nest taking his turn keeping the eggs warm. We knew he was around, but could never spot him. Since the arrival of the chicks he has become a regular feature of the downtown neighbourhood, guarding the nest from perches near the Sheraton. He can often be seen patrolling the sky ready to defend the nest territory against straying gulls and errant raptors.

May 8, 2006: And then there were two! The photo at the left, from 4:11PM, says it all! Check out the Webcam Favorites for more pics.

May 7, 2006: Shortly after 10 o'clock this morning (Sunday), an empty shell was spotted beside Madame X. The first chick of the 2006 season is here! As the day progressed we caught our first glimpses (photo at left).

May 6, 2006: We are eagerly awaiting the first sign of hatching (all four eggs were visible at 12:09PM today, in the photo at left). The adults have been regularly turning the eggs, and fussing about the nest a bit more today, which may mean that we could be seeing the first chick very soon.

May 1, 2006: With the earlier start to laying this year, and the seasonable weather, there is a distinct chance that the eggs will hatch a bit earlier than last year's date (May 11). We have zoomed in our webcam, so that we have a better chance of spotting that first tell-tale sign of white peeking out from beneath a parent's wing.

April 6, 2006: FOUR EGGS! This morning a volunteer with a spotter scope verified that there are indeed four eggs in the nest on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel. A fact which became readily apparent in the webcam photos a bit later that morning (check out the 'Favorites' section of the gallery for photos). Unless Madame X decides to go for a record fifth egg, we can now expect the adults to settle in for a month-long incubation period, with the chicks hatching sometime around the first week of May.

April 3, 2006: The second and third eggs of the 2006 nesting season appeared over the past three days. At dawn's first light on Saturday two eggs could be clearly seen in the nest, and by 11:43 Monday, the third egg was there.


March 29, 2006: The first egg of the 2006 nesting season has made its appearance. We switched on our webcam this morning, and discovered to our delight that an egg was already waiting for us in the nest.

Spring 2006 - The adult Peregrines spent the winter of 2005-2006 roosting on signs on the CIBC building, but have been active at the Sheraton nest site on and off. We have confirmed that the adult female present this spring is Madame X and are working hard to confirm that the male is again Newbie.

In 2005 Madame X and Newbie hatched four chicks - females Lancaster and Anson and males Harvard and Canso. Sadly Canso was killed in a collision. The other three fledged safely and left the area later in the summer.

Madame X was born on a bridge on Pennsylvania Route 309, the Cross-Valley Expressway in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Banded as a hatchling on 7, June 1999 she was known to the falcon watchers in Northeast PA as 'Runaround Sue', a name suggested after she was found running along the expressway guide wall one morning. We are keeping the folks in Pennsylvania posted on Madame X's progress. Because Newbie has no bands it will be almost impossible to identify him.

Many birds exhibit a trait called 'site fidelity'. If at least one of a pair that used a nest site in the previous year return, 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 over and over again, year after year. Peregrine Falcons are known for site fidelity. This will be Madame X's sixth year in Hamilton and Newbie's fourth, and the twelfth year the same nest site on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel has been used.

Dundas, our 2004 chick who lost a leg sometime that fall has continued to maintain a 'residence' at Lime Ridge Mall on Upper Wentworth St. He was seen there last Friday, March 31, 2006.

To read FalconWatch Reports from last year, click on the History button above.

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