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FOUR JUVENILES/NEW PHOTOS

July 24, 2009 - After yesterday's update a Falconwatcher found the image at left of the four juveniles on the Sheraton ledges. (The fourth bird is the small bump at the far end.) Falcon Fans will also be interested to know that 2009 Banding photos are now available - click on the Gallery button above and then on the 'Banding June 4, 2009' button. New pictures have also been added to the Hamilton Peregrine Who's Who and Hamilton Peregrine Nest Site pages.

Our fundraising efforts are ongoing - YOU CAN HELP with Falconwatch's expenses by clicking on the 'Make a Donation to help Falconwatch!' link above. .

STILL AROUND

July 23, 2009 - Falconwatchers working in the Stelco tower report that at least three of the juvenile Peregrines are still downtown. They can be seen in the image at left, taken at 11:30 today. They have been seen chasing each other over the CIBC building, trying to land on antennae on the Scarfone-Hawkins building on James Street and the old Connaught Hotel building on King. On one occasion recently two chicks, one with food in its talons and the other making it clear that it wanted some, flew close by the Stelco building. The adults are still around and can occasionally be seen in or on the nest ledge as well.

THEY GROW UP SO QUICKLY!

July 7, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: This is my final report for Falconwatch 2009. As I look back over the last month, it amazes me how quickly these falcons have turned from the fuzzy chicks I saw on Banding Day into the beautiful juvenile Peregrines I watched this evening. The four fledglings continue to spend quite a bit of time in the area of the Sheraton hotel so if you're in the downtown area keep your eyes to the sky and you might be treated to seeing them swoop by. The best times to see them are early in the morning (the kids are always up and flying by 05:15), or in the evening (they are often still flying about trying to decide where to spend the night at 21:00).

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Lead and Senior Monitors and the Falconwatch volunteers. You are an amazingly dedicated group of people. Thanks to your efforts four more Peregrines are well on their way to independence and hopefully will contribute to the continued recovery of this majestic species.

WHOSE FOOD IS IT ANYWAY?

July 6, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Shortly after I arrived this evening I saw a chick flying with food in its feet. I don't know if it caught the food itself or got it from an adult. What I do know is that Gleig and Dixon ended up on the roof of the Thompson building with the food. Gleig laid claim to the meal and ate for quite awhile while Dixon tried to work his way in for a share. He finally gave up trying to convince his sister to share nicely and after a short tug-of-war managed to rip a small piece away from her. This evening we noticed two of the chicks flying from one building to another with food in their feet. I guess that's one way to make sure you keep your own dinner!

The picture of Dixon at left was taken on June 30 when he stopped off on the Stelco tower for a four-hour visit that included a nap. Thanks very much to the photographer.

IT'S 9PM - DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?

July 5, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: One of the things that I have not really commented on yet is the "bedtime routine" of our falcon fledglings. The evening crew of Falconwatchers always makes a note of where the four youngsters settle down for the night so that the early morning crew has an idea of where to look for them. Well let me tell you, making a note of where these kids settle down is not always an easy task as they sometimes take awhile to figure out where to go to bed! This evening they were quite quiet and did not do a lot of flying. Most nights, around 20:45, they all start to fly from building to building almost as if they are trying to decide where they should all spend the night. One of the girls (I think it's Durand) likes to sleep on a window ledge of the Standard Life building - she goes there almost every night. The Falconwatchers have come to use her as a benchmark - when we see her in place we know that the others will usually settle down too. Well tonight, this girl landed and took off from her favourite spot four times before she finally decided to fly over to the Fairclough building to join her siblings. I somehow have my doubts that the morning crew will find them all in this spot in the morning, though, as it was still fairly light out when we left at 21:15. We joke that these falcons must be part bat as they often fly right up until the last bit of daylight is gone.

IT MAY BE INDEPENDENCE DAY, BUT NOT QUITE YET FOR THESE FOUR

July 4, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Our falcon fledglings are still doing well. Surprisingly, they are still sticking close together and fairly close to home. By this age young Peregrines often start to spend more time apart from each other and also venture further from home. Today, however, all four spent most of the evening flying and playing together, always returning to the roof of the Fairclough building. Madame X was not seen at all this evening and Surge only appeared twice. I don't blame the adults for keeping out of sight. Poor Surge was mobbed and chased by the chicks both times he showed up, even when he didn't have any food with him!

A GOOD AIR DAY!

July 3, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Warmer temperatures, no rain and a brisk breeze all added up to great flying weather today. The fledglings took full advantage of the great conditions to play and hone their skills. On at least six separate occasions all four youngsters were in the air chasing and tagging each other, swooping and diving over downtown Hamilton. This evening they looked like they were on a roller coaster as they rocketed up and down on the air currents. They truly are becoming masterful fliers. All week the chicks have been attempting to land on the vertical antennas on the Fairclough building - a difficult landing. This afternoon Dixon became the first to achieve this goal.

All this flying works up an appetite and no one proved this quite like Dixon. This afternoon Madame X brought in another very large pigeon and he consumed almost the entire bird all by himself - quite a feat considering the pigeon was almost as large as he is! The chicks continue to chase pigeons and other smaller birds, but we did not witness them make any successful captures today.

TAG - YOU'RE IT!

July 2, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The fledglings put on a good air show again today. The highlight of the day came just before 17:00 when all four birds played an enthusiastic game of tag which lasted almost 10 minutes. The game only ended because Madame X showed up with dinner. While several of the youngsters chased Madame X, it was Dixon who was successful in taking the food from her in a very skilled mid-air transfer. Unfortunately for Dixon, dinner was a pigeon that was almost as big as he is. It must have proved too heavy for him because he dropped the pigeon right in the middle of the Copp's Coliseum roof. Dixon tried several times to go down and pick it up but he seemed unsure of how to land on this almost flat roof and eventually gave up.

While we cannot be entirely sure, we believe that both Dixon and one of the girls (either Strathcona or Durand) caught their own food today. At 9:50 Dixon appeared out of nowhere and landed on the Fairclough building with a very small bird in his foot. He seemed awfully proud of himself and in between bites of food he would pick the bird up, toss it with his beak, and then jump on it with his feet before he resumed eating (he very much reminded Falconwatchers of a cat playing with a mouse). Later at 12:10, one of the girls landed on BDC with a fresh piece of food. As we had not seen any adults around to transfer the food to her, we believe she may have caught the food herself.

THE 'HAMILTON FALCONS' FLY ON CANADA DAY

July 1, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: What's all this talk about moving a NHL hockey team to Hamilton and naming it after some four legged creature? If a team ever does arrive here, the only name possible is 'Hamilton Falcons' - correct? While the Snowbirds were wowing the crowds in Ottawa today, we had our own air show right here. On several occasions during the Canada Day holiday the wonderful, dedicated Falconwatch volunteers were hard at work trying to keep track of four very active Peregrine fledglings flying simultaneously, sometimes together in a group just like the Snowbirds. Falconwatchers were spread throughout the downtown core trying to keep an eye on the birds. Unlike yesterday, when they tended to stick around the BDC building and the areas south and west of there, today they would take off in all directions, sometimes venturing far away and disappearing from sight very quickly. All eventually came back though, and were considerate enough to have their afternoon nap in clear view.

Today we witnessed the chicks making purposeful dives and swoops after pigeons. While they are making very good attempts at hunting their own food, we still have not seen evidence of one of the chicks successfully capturing its own food.

WHICH WAY DID THEY GO?

June 30, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The fledglings were very active today and "Which way did they go?" was a question that the Falconwatchers asked many times. The youngsters did lots of flying throughout the day and chased each other all over the downtown area. Even Gleig got in on the fun, doing some nice, long, strong flights. These birds really are a delight to watch as they swoop, dive, soar and touch talons in the air. With them flying this well and venturing farther from home every day the dawn to dusk watch will soon be wrapping up for the year.

I'M FLAPPING IN THE RAIN, JUST FLAPPING IN THE RAIN!

June 29, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: It was a wet and stormy day in Hamilton, but the fledglings did not let this dampen their spirits. I don't know if it's the wind or a change in air pressure, but an on-coming storm seems to be a trigger for these kids to go out flying and have some fun. At times today, they didn't even stop flying while it was raining. This afternoon, when the rain was coming down so hard we could hardly see him, Dixon decided to fly from the BDC building to the Sheraton and followed that by walking along the Sheraton roof ledge half the length of the building. He then took off on another circuit before landing back almost where he started! Someone needs to talk to these kids about safety and not flying in thunder storms! By this evening though, after they had been rained on yet again, the four youngsters seemed to give up and just sat quietly in the rain.

In between rainstorms the chicks showed off their ever increasing skills. Around noon Gleig landed on the ninth floor of the Stelco tower and one the ladies working there snapped the picture at left. Now when the adults bring food in, they are dropping it while the kids are chasing them and the youngsters then catch it in mid-air. The fledglings are also getting very good at flying and landing with food in their feet, and continue to chase birds on their own. Today Dixon almost caught a pigeon himself. He was just a little bit too slow though, and Madame X came in fast behind him and caught the pigeon for him. Dixon followed her back to the Thompson building and had a feast. It won't be long until these four are feeding themselves.

FALCONS, FALCONS, EVERYWHERE!!

June 28, 2009 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Sandra had a previous engagement today, so Senior Monitor Mike and I filled in and experienced first hand some of the wild activity she has been coordinating since the first Peregrine chick took to the air two weeks ago. The youngsters were flying almost from dawn, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs; around 14:00 three of them were doing aerobatics together, talon touching and buzzing each other. As on previous days, when one of the adults appeared with food he or she was almost immediately mobbed, with chicks zooming in from different locations. Sometimes the chicks shared the food, sometimes one or other of them would hog the whole meal.

At first Gleig, aka ?The Flying Stomach? repeated her apparent habit of flying only when food was in view, but later in the morning she started following Dixon around. On at least three occasions Gleig flew from one building to a different one where Dixon had landed, then started playing with and nuzzling him. Later in the afternoon Strathcona and Durand discovered a nice puddle on the lower roof of the Hamilton Convention Centre and had their fist bath since the waterfall incident on Wednesday. For his part, Dixon flew at least once an hour, sometimes for a few minutes but on one occasion he soared, roared and dove all over the downtown area for almost 20 minutes straight! Although it looked like he was showing off, it was actually quite obvious that he just loves to fly. Not to be outdone, the adults were in quite in evidence, watching and getting food. Around 18:00 Surge flew to the nest ledge and started touching up the nest scrape - something we normally see after the chicks have completely fledged. The image at left shows Surge as he prepared to leave the ledge.

DON'T CRY OVER A DROPPED PIGEON - WHO'S ON FIRST?

June 27, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Saturday was exciting and somewhat confusing for the falconwatchers. In the past few days when an adult has appeared with food, the chicks have flown to where the adult lands or even chased after it in the air. Well, when Surge came in with breakfast this morning, he was mobbed by all four youngsters. In the resulting scuffle the pigeon was either dropped or pushed off the edge of the roof. Surge dove down but could not get it before it hit the sidewalk. Needless to say the chicks were not amused that their breakfast had disappeared. Not to worry though - Surge soon came back with more food to make up for the loss.

On three separate occasions today we saw chicks flying with food in their feet; this is food that they took from an adult in mid-air and is a good sign that they are maturing quickly. Landing with food in your feet is a skill that the young ones have yet to perfect though. This afternoon Dixon tried to land on the Sheraton roof edge with food in his feet, but slid off and fell onto the roof! This evening when Madame X flew in with food she was chased by Gleig and Durand. Durand got the food from Madame X in mid air, flew to the side of the Standard Life building, tried to land on a window ledge and dropped the food. It ended up on a very low roof next to Standard Life. After Durand sat and cried over her dropped meal for a while, Madame X finally flew down and retrieved it. The best news is that Gleig's flying has improved so much since esterday it is becoming difficult to tell her apart from the other chicks when she is in the air. Many times today we had all four of them going every which way and just could not keep track of who was who. There are now hours at a time when one or more of the chicks is completely out of sight.

This evening we finally had all six Peregrines accounted for when all of a sudden I spotted a third adult on the Stelco tower. We counted and recounted and confirmed who was where, and yes indeed we were looking at SEVEN Peregrines! As far as we can tell the "extra" bird was an adult that had flown in when neither Madame X nor Surge were around. This bird spent almost an hour in the ledge next to the nest; when it took off Surge chased it south out of sight. Who was that mystery bird?

WILL FLY FOR FOOD

June 26, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Today I came to the conclusion that Gleig's wings are directly connected to her stomach. Food seems to be a major motivating factor for this bird. Early this morning she made a good, strong, direct flight from the west side of Stelco to the roof the Sheraton. Her reason for flying? Madame X had just arrived with fresh breakfast and Gleig wanted to get her share! An hour or so later when food was delivered to her siblings on the roof of the Standard Life building, Gleig flew there to check out what they had. Once there, she had fun exploring (this is the first time she had been on this building) and even found a big puddle to bathe in. She flew again early this afternoon, this time back to the Stelco tower, her motivation likely a search for shade. She stayed there until mid afternoon when Madame X again landed with food on the roof of the Thompson building. Gleig took no time at all to fly to Madame X's side. After enjoying a huge meal and a good nap, at approximately 20:30 she flew one last time for the day, to the roof of the Standard Life building, gaining great height as she flew and making a great landing. Once there, she proceeded to polish off the leftovers from her sisters' meal. I guess we know how this bird grew to be such a big girl!

Meanwhile, Dixon, Durand and Strathcona (aka the Three Stooges) were up to their usual antics today. They delighted falconwatchers by playing many games of tag and continuing their target practice on the local gulls.

SCHOOL MAY BE OUT, BUT NOT FOR THESE KIDS

June 25, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: While children are celebrating the end of the school year, our falcon youngsters still have some learning to do. Surge and Madame X were both involved in some advanced flying lessons and some preliminary hunting lessons today. After the very heavy thunderstorms passed through the city and the falcons all dried off, Surge decided it was time to show the kids the finer points of flying. He swooped low and fast over the chicks and at least one took the bait, swooping and diving after him. Shortly after this, Madame X took one of the girls (either Durand or Strathcona, but we're not sure who) out for a trip. When they reappeared, the fledgling was chasing a gull, with Madame X just behind her! Dixon has also started chasing after gulls and this afternoon it looked like he also tried to chase after a small bird. While gulls are too large to be a regular prey item for the falcons, they apparently make for good target practice!

Gleig continues to progress, albeit at a slower pace than her siblings. She made a number of flights today, usually ending up back on the roof of the Thompson building, although just before 21:00 she landed on the 12th floor of the Stelco tower, where we left her for the night. If this progress doesn?t continue tomorrow Madame X and Surge may have to enroll her in Peregrine summer school!

THE WATERFALL! THE WATERFALL!

June 24, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: For a while this afternoon Hamilton, the 'City of Waterfalls', had a new one that provided Dixon, Durand and Strathcona a great way to beat the heat. They all took turns playing in a spray of water coming off an air conditioner unit on the roof of the Sheraton. The waterfall, and the large puddle in which the chicks were doing belly flops, was due to a blockage in the cooler unit that required fixing before it damaged the roof and allowed water to leak into the building. Hats off (actually hard hats on!) to Sheraton Engineering employees Ryan and Fred who braved the fury of Madame X and Surge while they fixed the problem, guarded by Falconwatcher Mike and his high tech bird distracter (Pat. pend.) - a broom stuck in the end of a pipe, held above Ryan and Fred while they worked! Since the three chicks were still on the roof when the repair began, for a brief period there were five Peregrines flying in circles and screaming over the Sheraton roof. Fortunately Surge took two of them off for a flying lesson which ended when, from pretty high up, Dixon did a spectacular swooping dive and landed back on the Sheraton.

While all this was going on Gleig watched from a low ledge on the Stelco building. After sneaking back to the nest five minutes after I left last night, she took flight again at 05:15 today, making sure that the early shift of Falconwatchers was awake. Gleig flew over the Art Gallery and back to the roof of the Sheraton, eventually returning to the nest ledge, where she was joined by Dixon. Gleig would probably have preferred to have the ledge to herself because when Surge dropped off her breakfast at 10:25 she had to fight with Dixon to get her share, as can be seen in the image at left. After using their feet and beaks to try to tear the food away from each other, they eventually ripped it into two pieces and both proceeded to eat. Gleig flew a few more times today, and while she again spent time on the Thompson building, she gained good height from there and returned to the roof of the Sheraton by 20:50.

THREE ADVENTURERS AND ONE HOME ALONE (WELL, ALMOST)

June 23, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Dixon, Durand and Strathcona continue to fly very well. They have started spending more time away from the Sheraton, flying further east and south than they have before. All three fledglings spent much of the afternoon on the BDC building, which is south of the Sheraton. They are also starting to chase the adults whenever they appear - especially if food is involved. This morning as Surge flew in with breakfast, one of the chicks (probably Dixon) chased him, flipped over while in flight, and tried to grab the food out of Surge's feet! Understandably, Surge and Madame X are spending more time out of sight, only appearing at mealtime or in the heat of the afternoon when the chicks are napping.

Meanwhile, Gleig spent the day at home - again. Her siblings came to visit her every so often, and both adults brought her food. She did spend time stretching her wings and walking back and forth along the roof of the Sheraton but has not yet flown again since Sunday. Maybe tomorrow? I'll keep you posted. [Maybe this evening after all - the chick in the image at left, taken at 21:30, appears to be Gleig.]

KIDS WILL BE KIDS

June 22, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: After yesterday's adventures, Gleig decided to play it safe and stayed close to home today. In fact, she stayed so close that the furthest she went was to take a walk along the edge of the Sheraton roof. Maybe by tomorrow she'll feel like trying this whole flying thing again.

Dixon, Durand and Strathcona, however, were NOT quiet today. They are enjoying their new found flying skills and played several games of tag. They took turns chasing each other through the air, while twisting, turning and touching their talons together. They would also literally tag each other as one would get above another and touch its talons to the other chick's back. While the Falconwatchers were hoping for an easy night tonight after last night's action, the fledglings had other ideas. Like any normal, healthy kids, they refused to go to bed until it was dark and were still flying from roof top to roof top after dusk. Finally by 21:45 they all seemed to settle in and rest up for more action tomorrow. [Oh yeah? Thanks to an on-line Falconwatcher we know that a chick has flown in late and spent the night on the nest ledge or the one beside it. The image at left of a snoozing chick on the second ledge was taken near midnight tonight.]

THE MISADVENTURES OF GLEIG - A SECOND SUCCESSFUL RESCUE

June 21, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: This evening Gleig became the second 2009 Peregrine chick to require rescuing. While she made several strong flights today, all were low and she seemed unable to gain any height during them. After leaving the Stelco tower early this afternoon, she stayed on the upper roof of the Thompson building. Just after 17:30 she took off from there, landed briefly on a low window ledge on Stelco, then flew to a low window ledge on the Fairclough building. She was very unhappy there and quickly took off again, this time ending up on the ground in the Jackson Square plaza. Even though Falconwatchers were in hot pursuit and saw her on the ground, she took off again before we could catch her and ended up on a very low roof just north of the Thompson building. From here, things got very tense as she flew to the roof of the pedestrian walkway that runs above King Street from the Sheraton to the Hamilton Convention Centre. After almost an hour there she took off again, this time ending up on the roof of a low building just to the east of Stelco. Harassment by gulls, robins and other small birds convinced her to leave that location, and she again flew into the Jackson Square plaza. After landing in a low tree she eventually ended up on a window ledge near the ground and was finally successfully captured by Falconwatchers. By 21:00 she was safely back on the roof of the Sheraton. Let's hope when she decides to fly again she manages to maintain some height. A HUGE thank you goes out to all the volunteers who were on today. It was definitely a great team effort. Thank you also to Admir, who climbed a tree to help us spot Gleig on a low roof, and to the BMX bikers who helped us find her in the plaza. In the image at left Sandra is checking Gleig's wings for signs of injury before releasing her back on the Sheraton roof.

Meanwhile, the three other fledglings continue to do very well. Dixon in particular is becoming a very accomplished flier; he amazed us with his skills today. He is starting to practice diving, has great speed and control and now makes effortless landings. He is also starting to chase the adults whenever they have food and he thinks nothing of flying over to visit one of his siblings on another building (or to steal their food!).

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FALCONWATCHER

June 20, 2009 - Part 2 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The fledglings continue to do well. Gleig stayed put on the Thompson building until this evening, when she made another strong flight and landed ten floors up on the east side of the Stelco tower, where we left her at dusk. Dixon, Durand and Strathcona all continued to develop their skills today. All three are starting to fly and land quite well.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated group of volunteer Falconwatchers without whom this project would not be possible. These wonderful people stand out on the streets of downtown Hamilton in all types of weather for hours on end, helping me keep track of the birds. While it can be very exciting at times, there are also many periods (like when all the birds are having their afternoon nap) that their task is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Falconwatching is best summed up as "Hours of boredom, minutes of panic." Each day we have a strategy for how best to keep track of the birds, where we need to position ourselves to make sure all remain in view, and which volunteer is responsible for keeping track of which bird. For example, this morning our priority was to keep an eye on Gleig as she was the only chick that had not yet flown. During a typical day, the volunteers are keeping track of which chick flew where and how well each is flying. When several birds are in the air at once, as happened this evening with all four youngsters going every which way, this can be a tough job. Sometimes it involves a sprint down the sidewalk or a frantic search for one that is missing. So a great big thank you to everyone involved for your dedication to the falcons.

EMPTY NESTERS!!!

June 20, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: At 15:31 this afternoon Gleig, she of the almost totally dark head and light foot colour, left the nest in a strong flight that took her out over the street and eventually to the roof of the Thompson building, where she is currently doing healthy wing flaps and looks like she may fly again any minute. The image of Gleig at left was taken seconds before she flew for the first time. Falconwatchers are now experiencing their annual empty nest syndrome while trying to keep track of four infrequent - so far - flyers.

UP! UP! AND NOT FAR AWAY!

June 19, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Even though there was lots of activity downtown today, with the hockey rally and other goings on, it was business as usual with our falcon family. Dixon and Durand were both active early and were up and flying by 05:30. Although they had a few touchy moments and rough landings, by this evening both birds were flying well and are both showing a lot more confidence than they did yesterday. Both Dixon and Durand were doing a bit of soaring (a good sign that they are developing their skills) and both also did some flying with Surge by their sides. At almost exactly Noon Dixon became the first chick to make it back to the nest ledge under its own power. In the image at left he has just arrived and looks a bit out of breath - or is it just surprise that he made it OK?

Strathcona also tried out her wings again today. At 08:00 she left the nest and made a strong flight over the Board of Education parking lot out of the Falconwatchers' view. She remained "missing" until about 09:15 when she was found on the roof of the Standard Life building, where she stayed until 11:00 when she flew and ended up on the top window ledge on the south side of the Standard Life building. She seemed to decide that this was enough for one day and was still there at dusk. Gleig is still at home in the nest. She did lots of very strong flapping while leaning over the edge and many times we were sure she was going to get airborne. Stay tuned to find out when she finally decides to fly - it should be any day now.

LEARNING TO FLY

June 18, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Today Dixon and Durand learned about flying. Dixon was the first to take off. At 11:45 he left the Standard Life window ledge where he had spent the night and made his way to the roof of that building. He stayed there until 19:30 when he flew to the roof of the Sheraton. He kept looking down to the nest, wanting to get back home, but after two attempts during which he flew around the Sheraton and surrounding buildings, he eventually came to rest on a Standard Life window ledge - in almost exactly the same spot where he spent all of last night!

Durand flew several times today too. Her first flight at 14:50 was a little shaky and she spent a short while on a sloped window ledge on the Fairclough building, but her next flights were strong and direct. She flew from Fairclough back to the Thompson building, then later to the roof of Standard Life.

Despite doing lots of hard flapping, Strathcona and Gleig stayed put on the nest ledge all day. Strathcona seemed to be a bit bossy. A few times, as in the image at left, it looked like she was trying to convince Gleig to leave home! The adults were kept busy delivering food to all of the chicks. An interesting observation that Falconwatchers have made this past week is that the adults seem to be working together when they hunt. Yesterday and today watchers have observed Madame X and Surge make a tandem, mid air hit on a pigeon. Friday should be interesting - the Hamilton hockey rally is taking place right in the middle of the Peregrines' turf.

A QUIET END TO A BUSY DAY

June 17, 2009 - Part 2 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: After this morning?s excitement, Falconwatchers had a pretty quiet day rest of the day. The rain that fell most of the afternoon and evening likely had something to do with this. Birds do not generally like to fly when they are wet and even the adults were very inactive today. Ten hardy people who braved the misty rain to take part in the Hamilton Naturalists' Club Wednesday night walk learned about Peregrines and their history in Hamilton, saw through telescopes the two chicks still in the nest, and visited Falconwatch's Jackson Square Mall TV monitor information site.

Once Durand settled down on the roof of the Thompson building this morning she seemed happy to stay put, and was still there when we left tonight. (After a closer look at the photos, we know that it was Strathcona who accidentally bumped Durand into her first flight.) Around 10:30 Dixon left the sign on the King Street side of Standard Life, flew northeast by the Sheraton and tried to land on the east roof of Standard Life. He did not have quite enough height and ended up missing, coming to rest on a window ledge on that side of the building, 2 floors down from the roof. While this is a nice high perch, the window ledges are narrow and are not a very comfortable roost. Despite some flapping and moving about, Dixon seemed to lack the nerve to fly again. He too was still in the same spot when we left tonight. As long as there is no heavy rain, I expect both birds to test their wings again tomorrow (and maybe someone from the nest will join them too!)

THE 'D's DO IT - THREE AWAY!

June 17, 2009 - Part 1 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: At 05:35 this morning Dixon left the ledge, flew in a nice arc over the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the school board parking lot, then tried to land on the main roof of the Standard Life building. He missed that one but landed a few feet below on top of the 'I-F-E' letters of that building's King Street sign. The adults kept a close eye on everyone and things seemed quiet until 07:12 when it appeared that Strathcona accidentally bumped Durand off the ledge. (The image at left shows Durand, closest to the camera, and Strathcona, just before Durand left the ledge.) All of a sudden we had two chicks on first flights! Durand flew in an opposite arc, going first over the Art Gallery and then back across to the Thompson Building, where she landed and immediately began squawking loudly. After a while she settled down and started exploring. Stay tuned. Things could get interesting if the expected rain is not heavy. Visitors to this evening's Wednesday Night Walk may get a good show.

STRATHCONA BACK HOME - WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HER FRIENDS!

June 16, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Strathcona remained on the roof of the Thompson building for most of today. At 15:05 Madame X delivered a pigeon to her; her first meal since leaving the nest yesterday morning. However, Strathcona did not get to enjoy much of this meal. Surge came down to the roof several times and tried to take the food from her. After chasing him away several times, Strathcona finally allowed him to take it. After a little plucking, Surge took it up to the ledge to feed to the other chicks.

At 18:45 Strathcona took off from the Thompson building. She flew to the Sheraton but did not get enough height, and after unsuccessfully gripping a window ledge flew again. This time she circled over the Art Gallery and tried to land on the Thompson building. Again lacking the needed height, she slipped down the side and landed on the stairs to the plaza by the Stelco tower. From here she took a short, low flight and ended up in the Jackson Square Plaza between the Sheraton and Copps Coliseum where she was rescued by Falconwatchers. After a brief examination showed her to be in very good health she was returned to the roof of the Sheraton. In a very short time she was up on the edge of the roof and by 20:20 she had hopped back into the nest to rejoin her siblings. The first thing she did when she got back home was eat the leftovers from the pigeon that had been delivered first to her this afternoon. Images at left: top - the three stay-at-homes on the ledge at 20:20:30. (Note the food behind them.); bottom ? ten seconds later Strathcona has arrived back on the ledge.

The other chicks were very active today, doing lots of flapping and 'helicoptering'. It probably won't be long before we have another chick testing its wings!

STRATHCONA FIRST TO FLY!

June 15, 2009 - Part 2 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: By late afternoon we were able to get a good view of the chick that flew to the Thompson building and by reading her band identified her as Strathcona. (The image at left shows her on the upper ledge, facing Surge, seconds before she flew.) Strathcona spent the entire day on the upper roof of the Thompson building, exploring the roof top and ledges. She seemed quite content to stay there until this evening. Around 8PM, while walking along the edge of the upper roof, she lost her footing and slipped down to the lower roof. She landed there safely and proceeded to spend quite a while pacing back and forth along the west side of the lower roof. She kept looking around and seemed to be trying to decide where to go and whether she could make it back to the nest ledge. She was probably quite hungry by this point as she had not been fed since 7:40AM. Madame X and Surge flew close by several times today and also chased off some gulls that were bothering her, but neither adult delivered food to Strathcona. Around 20:45 Strathcona decided to spend the night on the south west corner of the Thompson building and settled down. Stay tuned to see where she decides to go tomorrow.

The three chicks on the ledge continued their flapping exercises but seem happy to stay at home for now. Those left on the ledge are fairly easy to tell apart. Dixon is the smallest and he has pale coloured feet. Gleig also has pale feet, however she is a very large, very dark bird. Durand has yellow feet.

ONE FLEW OVER THE FALCONS' NEST!

June 15, 2009 - Part 1 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: At approximately 11:10 this morning one of the chicks flew from the nest ledge to the nearby Thompson Building, where it landed safely. One of the things Falconwatchers look for as the chicks develop is 'helicoptering', which occurs when heavy wing flapping results in the bird lifting itself a few inches above the ledge. This happened about 10 minutes before the first flight (image at left). Usually there are more than a few helicoptering efforts before a young Peregrine flies for the first time, but not in this case. Stay tuned.

A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT

June 14, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: It seemed to the Falconwatchers today that Madame X and Surge were trying to encourage the chicks to leave the nest and take to the sky. Around 12:50 Madame X flew around the Sheraton with a pigeon in her talons. This definitely got the chicks' attention, especially when she landed on the nest ledge, fed two bites to one of the chicks (image at left) and then, much to their dismay, took off again with their lunch! Madame X spent a fair bit of time flying from nearby building to nearby building with the food, but never did end up going back to the ledge with it. After she finished doing this Surge flew to the ledge (without food), circled around in front of the Sheraton, then returned to the nest. He did this several times, almost as if he was trying to show the chicks the finer points of flying and was encouraging them to join him. None of the youngsters decided to test their wings today though. Despite lots of vigorous flapping, all of them remain in the nest.

RESTRICTED AIR SPACE

June 13, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: Today Surge and Madame X made sure that other local raptors were aware of the fact that downtown Hamilton, and the Sheraton area in particular, is their turf. Twice today the adults dive bombed and chased away Turkey Vultures that were too close for comfort. This past week they have chased away Red-tailed Hawks as well. All four chicks continued to practice flapping their wings, gaining strength for their first flights, as seen in the image at left taken around 17:50 this afternoon. We may need an air-traffic controller! None of the chicks seem all that eager to leave the nest, however. With Madame X and Surge continually delivering meals of pigeon, who can blame them?

EXERCISE, SLEEP, EXERCISE

June 12, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: That pretty much sums up the day. The four youngsters spent much of this morning up on the ledge, flapping and stretching. Dixon provided great comic relief as he hopped and flapped along the ledge (image at left). He would stop every so often and pounce on a food scrap, squeezing it with his foot, almost as if practicing for live food. Today?s sunshine and the warm temperatures made the birds hot, so for most of the afternoon the entire family was quiet and inactive. Madame X spent about an hour in the nest with the chicks and at times they could all be seen panting, which is what they do to cool themselves off. By 17:00 dinner was served and everyone started to get busy again. All four chicks returned to the ledge where they spent most of the evening. Dixon was again doing lots of flapping and for a moment had one foot hanging over the edge of the ledge. He also spent some time playing tag with one of his sisters. The chicks have pretty well stopped growing vertically. Now they are strengthening muscles, finding out what those muscles can do for them and learning to look after their new feathers.

LIFE ON THE LEDGE

June 11, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The chicks are all getting much more comfortable being up on the ledge. They spent a lot of time up there today and on several occasions all four could be seen on the ledge at the same time. They are so comfortable now that two of them even decided to have their afternoon nap up there rather than in the nest. The youngsters are still doing lots of preening and are working on removing their last remaining down feathers. One of the girls now looks almost completely brown when she is up on the ledge, as can be see in the image at left - Dixon is third from the front. Madame X and Surge supplied several meals today and I even had the pleasure of watching Madame X catch a bird in mid-air. Unlike the past few days however, the meals were all small and the feedings did not last very long. Perhaps it's diet time for the chicks in preparation for first flights?

FOUR ON THE LEDGE

June 10, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The chicks were much more active today than they were yesterday. Both this morning and this evening, all four youngsters were up on the ledge at the same time - this is the first day I have seen this happen. They spent quite a bit of their time on the ledge preening, stretching and flapping. At times they were pulling out so many down feathers that it looked like it was snowing around the nest! They are becoming so brown now that it seems odd to refer to them as chicks, and before we know it they will be fledglings. Madame X and Surge kept the chicks well fed again today. While Surge seems content to drop off the food and let the chicks feed themselves, Madame X still feeds them beak to beak.

A DAY OF EATING

June 9, 2009 - Falconwatch Coordinator Sandra Davey reports: The main activity for the chicks today seemed to be eating. Between 09:00 and 20:00 they were fed six times. While four meals consisted of small birds, two were large - probably pigeons. Meal time is usually surprisingly orderly, with the chicks politely taking turns while Madame X feeds them. However, this evening one of the girls must have felt that she wasn't getting her fair share because she stole a piece of food right out of Dixon's mouth! This same youngster grabbed the small bird that Surge dropped off at 7:25 this evening and fed herself in the nest. Somebody had better tell Madame X and Surge that these chicks need to lose some weight if they ever hope to get airborne! With all of this eating going on the youngsters did a lot of napping today, but they also spent time preening and stretching their wings. The image at left, taken late yesterday, clearly shows the difference in size between Dixon (front) and two of his sisters.

GROWING QUICKLY

June 8, 2009 - Welcome to Sandra Davey, our 2009 Falconwatch Coordinator. Sandra has many years of experience with raptors, and in fact was the Co-Coordinator of Falconwatch 2000. Sandra reports: The chicks continue to thrive and are developing rapidly. Every day now we will notice them getting browner as their flight feathers finish growing in. This can be seen in the image at left, taken just after 18:00 today. These days they are spending much of their time pulling out their down feathers and stretching their wings - sometimes there is a cloud of white coming out of the nest! All four chicks have now been up on the nest ledge at one time or another. Dixon spent quite a bit of time up there today, usually accompanied by one of his sisters. The difference in size between the two was very noticeable. The windy, cool, damp weather kept the family relatively quiet. Between 7:00 and 7:30 this evening both Madame X and Surge were involved in feeding the chicks and all four received a nice big dinner.

WHY ARE THE CHICKS BANDED?

June 6, 2009 - Our 'baby' Peregrines are getting darker and more adventurous - one spent more than 20 minutes alone on the upper ledge yesterday. They are not being fed quite as often, but this is normal. The adults seem to know that flying will be difficult if a chick is too heavy - and we know what the 'girls' weighed!

We are often asked why the young Peregrines are banded. This is done to help Falconwatchers and others who study birds learn where they go after they leave the nest, and also how long they live. Our chicks receive two bands, one on each leg. The silver coloured metal band shown in the image at left is supplied by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and carries a multi-digit number which uniquely identifies the bird. Details such as the bird's age, weight, length and wing span, plus location and date of banding, are recorded and stored in the USFWS database.

The second band (black in the image at left)is plastic. This band carries two characters - numbers or letters - which also uniquely identify a bird and are recorded. These characters are much larger than the numbers on the metal band to help observers with binoculars or telescopes identify a bird from a distance. If a bird is observed or found injured or dead and the band number(s) returned to the USFWS, the original bander is notified. Some bird bands have been recovered thousands of miles from where the bird was banded; some many years after banding.

BANDING DAY

June 4, 2009 - The young Peregrines have settled down after all the excitement on Tuesday. Regular feedings have continued, and more and more dark feathers are appearing on their bodies as the juvenile flight feathers grow in to replace the white down natal feathers. During banding the first activity is to weigh the chick. In the image at left one of this year's birds can be seen peeking out of the holding bucket while her weight is being recorded.

Sometimes the chicks are very vocal - read LOUD - during banding, but this year's birds were pretty quiet, content to look around the room while the humans were 'doing their thing'. A gentle spray of water is used to keep them cool and calm them down, which is why water droplets can be seen on the youngster at left. The blue colour of the bill is standard for a young Peregrine, and helps Falconwatchers separate adults from chicks. Watch for the birds to start trying out their wings.

THREE GIRLS AND A GUY!

June 2, 2009 - June 2, 2008: Everyone, meet Dixon, Durand, Gleig and Strathcona! Our chicks were retrieved from the nest ledge today by climber John Millar, assisted by Chris Phinney. They were named after two former Falconwatchers, Len Dixon and Don Gleig, and two of the historic Hamilton neighbourhoods the Peregrines use regularly for food trips, and will use soon for training flights. The birds were banded by Anne Yagi of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). As we expected based on the birds' sizes from the video camera, we have three females and one male, all VERY healthy. Dixon, who weighed in at 690g, is the only male. Strathcona (1014g) and Durand (1040g) are big but Gleig (1049g) is, we believe, the largest Sheraton Hamilton chick ever banded.

Dixon was named for the late Len Dixon who in 1994, while a Supervisor for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, was the first person to identify the unusual bird flying around the Sheraton as a Peregrine Falcon. Don Gleig, who was also very active in the Hamilton Boy Scout organization, was Co-Lead Monitor of Falconwatch in 1998-99 and a Senior Monitor after that. Sadly, Len passed away a year ago, and Don just this past April.

Madame X and Surge were very active during the banding. 'X' was especially aggressive, only settling down when her chicks were returned safely to the nest and the intruders completely gone. In the image at left Madame X is seen giving John Millar a piece of her mind as he gathers the youngsters for their upward journey.

COMPANY COMING!

June 1, 2009 - If around 9:30 tomorrow morning you see a pair of feet in the webcam picture, don't worry! A climber will be descending from the roof of the Sheraton to the nest ledge. The chicks will be placed in a container, then raised up and brought inside the hotel to be checked over by biologists. After being weighed, banded and named they will be returned to the nest. In the picture at left, captured just before 10 o'clock this morning, Madame X can be seen feeding the smallest of the four youngsters, and perhaps filling them all in on what is going to happen tomorrow. The dark lines on the chicks' sides are their dark juvenile flight feathers clearly starting to show.

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

May 27, 2009 - The chicks have grown so much so quickly that experienced Falconwatchers think at least three and perhaps all four chicks are female. This isn't a put down of males - female Peregrines are always heavier than their brothers. We will know better next week when the birds are banded. The image at left was taken at 19:11 this evening as the youngsters took the opportunity to shower in the rain that is going to be with us for at least another day. Thanks to an observant on-line Falconwatcher we now know who removed 'The Weed' - the birds did it themselves. Around 13:12 on May 21 everybody moved into the corner of the ledge nearest the camera, and bit by bit the weed was pushed over. We'll get it removed next week. Stay tuned as the chicks grow more. A few of their darker juvenile flight feathers are starting to show.

We hope that our difficulties with the TV monitor in Jackson Square are behind us. Thanks to all the mall-watchers who have put up with blank screens for the last week.

HERE WE GROW AGAIN!

May 22, 2009 - One of the things that always amazes veteran Falconwatchers is how quickly the chicks grow. When birds fledge from a nest they are almost adult in size and weight, so with larger birds like Peregrines the growth is rapid as long as there is a good supply of food. With all the choice in downtown Hamilton, Madame X and Surge are not having any difficulty in that department. The image at left, taken just after 6:00 this morning, shows how big the youngsters are at just over two weeks. We are not sure who removed 'The Weed' but are pleased that it is gone. Stay tuned as the chicks grow more and start to get their darker juvenile flight feathers.

HAIL! HAIL! THE GANG'S ALL HERE.

May 18, 2009 - It is very possible that the chicks are saying, "Mom, it's cold up here!" Unseasonably chilly temperatures and winds over the holiday weekend have been relieved a bit by bright sun and the southern exposure of the nest ledge, but the warm weather promised for later this week will be appreciated. As seen in the image at left, Surge is making regular transfers of bulk food to Madame X, who then feeds chick-size pieces to the quickly growing youngsters. It won't be long before they are spending more time exploring their small world and checking out 'The Weed', which is again growing in the ledge's near corner. In approximately two weeks they will be banded, and then fledging will begin. At that point Falconwatchers will take to the street to keep an eye on all the birds and additional volunteers will be needed to help out.

IT'S A GO - ONE MO!

May 13, 2009 - After last weekend, anyone who thought that falconwatching is always an exact science knows better. "Four? No three. Well maybe four. Are you sure? No." The question was settled yesterday afternoon when a telescope view from the Stelco Tower showed four separate chicks. The image at left, taken at 05:50 this morning, clearly shows them. As they get bigger it will be easier, of course - unless they are hiding under the overhang on in the corner nearest the camera, that is. Madame X and Surge have been busy bringing food and sharing it out among the youngsters. The fun has just begun!

EENIE, MEENIE, MINIE - NO MO?

May 10, 2009 - The technical wonders wrought by our webmaster, Charles, make it possible for us to see thousands of images at 10 second intervals. This is a good thing - except when we are trying to figure out exactly how many chicks are in the nest ledge! After two days of white fluff balls and parts of brown eggshells coming and going underneath the adults it appears, unless there's a fourth chick well hidden under the overhang at right, that Madame X and Surge will have just three chicks to raise this year. The image at left, taken at 05:55 today, shows the small but noticeable size differences between the three chicks. It looks like the oldest (and largest) one, at right, has placed a protective wing over the smallest one, in the centre. Stay tuned - even if there are only three they will be a handful!

THREE CHICKS!!!

May 7, 2009 (Part 2) - Around 11:15 this morning the third chick of 2009 made its appearance. It was funny to watch Madame X a few minutes later as she tried to tuck all three of them - and the last egg - underneath her body so she could keep them warm. Surge came in with food not long after and one of the chicks was quite insistent that he/she get some. The image at left was taken a few hours later, at 16:13. Here we go again! Stay tuned! One more chick to come, possibly today at the rate they have been hatching.

TWO CHICKS!!!

May 7, 2009 (Part 1) - Around 16:00 yesterday, after more maternal fidgeting and fussing, it appeared that a second chick was on the way. Sure enough, an hour later two white fluff balls (and an egg) could be seen beneath Madame X (left). Two more chicks to come - we hope - and perhaps more news of birds from previous years.

DOUBLE DOSE OF GOOD NEWS - FIRST 2009 CHICK & WEBSTER REPORT!

May 6, 2009 - The long wait IS over for Madame X and Surge. At 09:01 today the first young Peregrine of 2009 made its appearance in the Sheraton Hamilton nest. The image at left shows the chick clearly. The white material at its left is believed to be the inner lining of the shell of the egg from which it hatched.

While we were digesting this news from the Sheraton we received word that Webster, one of the 2006 Hamilton Peregrines, has been identified as the female of a pair nesting on a bridge in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. What makes this news even more interesting is that her sister, Albion, has nested on a bridge in Pennsylvania for the last two years.

IT WON'T BE LONG NOW!

May 5, 2009 - The long wait is almost over for Madame X and Surge. Although some strange white spots present in the nest ledge last evening caused a flurry of "Do we have chicks?" activity, the image at left, taken at 08:11 today, shows clearly that we still have four eggs and, as yet, no chicks. On average humans require nine months to produce offspring. Similarly, Peregrine chicks usually take around 35 days to hatch. That number is coming up fast, so if all's well we may again see little Mother's Day presents in the Sheraton nest ledge this weekend. It won't be long now. (Wasn't there a song by that name?)

REMEMBERING DON GLEIG

Falconwatchers were saddened to learn of the passing in Burlington on Monday, April 13 of Donald B. (Don) Gleig, one of our longest and hardest working volunteers. Don started helping out in 1997, was Co-Lead Monitor in the tumultuous years of 1998 and 1999, and a Senior Monitor since. Even as his health was failing Don would still come out to the school board parking lot when the chicks were fledging, the last time in late June 2008. We will miss him.

THROUGH RAIN AND HEAT...

April 29, 2009 - Talk about weather extremes! As if the thunderstorms and heavy rain last Saturday evening weren't enough, on Monday we had almost record high temperatures. Such is the life of the incubating Peregrine. Madame X and Surge continue to share the work, with somewhat regular swapping of duties allowing them to stretch their wings and get some food. A typical shift change is shown in the image at left - Surge watches from the ledge as Madame X gets settled on the eggs. The chicks should hatch right around Mother's Day - and then the fun begins.

COUNTING THE DAYS - AND EGGS

April 23, 2009 - As the April days get longer Madame X must get bored. Even with Surge taking turns sitting on the eggs she still spends most of her time incubating, which also involves turning the eggs periodically to make sure the warmth is spread evenly to all parts of all eggs. In the image at left, taken on April 18, Madame X looks as though she is counting the eggs to make sure they are all there. "Yup. Four! she says proudly."

THREE 'LADIES IN WAITING'

April 17, 2009 - At 10:33 yesterday morning Madame X did a little egg turning in the bright sunshine and let the camera see two of the eggs. Judging from how high she is sitting in the nest, it looks as though all four eggs are pretty big. As she and Surge were sharing incubation duties we received news that Stelco, our 1997 female who has been nesting in Lansing, Michigan for the last eight years, had laid her first egg of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, at the Ottawa Crowne Plaza Hotel the adults there, Diana and Connor, are also incubating four eggs, the first time the Ottawa nest has seen four at once.

THE WAITING GAME I

April 14, 2009 - Well, Madame X has not had much warm weather, has she? Perhaps after they fledge the chicks will head to more northern areas just to keep cool? This is almost the hardest part of Falconwatch - it's tough to see the adults sitting day after day through all types of weather. The good news is that if all goes well we should see some white fluff balls around Mother's Day. Keep that thought in mind folks, and stay tuned.

FOUR ON THE FLOOR!!!!

April 8, 2009 - Poor Madame X. Three days of snow, rain, sleet and COLD! What a way to treat a Lady! "Hmphhh, well I'll show you," she said - and she did. When Madame X took a break from incubating around noon today, viewers were clearly able to see that there were four eggs in the scrape! Way to go 'X'! With warmer weather moving into the area tonight, perhaps the rest of the incubation period will be a little easier for her and for Surge, who does his fair share of the incubating too.

The Peregrines and Falconwatchers want to thank the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel for delaying needed repairs to the lights in the large signs on the south and north sides of the building. In addition to close attention from the adults for workers, any activity on the roof at this stage could cause enough upset for the nest to be abandoned, which would be a real shame since the birds have come so far this season.

THREE EGGS - WE THINK

April 3, 2009 - At 11:19 this morning Surge finished a round of no-fun-in-the-rain incubating. (Madame X stood on the ledge above him for quite a while.) As can be seen in the image at left, when Surge moved to the ledge two eggs were clearly visible. Because of the depth of the scrape and the normal size of Peregrine eggs, we think that there may now be three eggs in the nest. Stay tuned. Madame X usually lays four eggs, although more are possible. We are keeping a close eye on the nest.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR - PART II

April 1, 2009 - Surge continues to woo Madame X with stunning aerial displays; swooping and climbing, loop the loops - you name it. And it's working too! On Tuesday afternoon after Madame X left the nest, exposing the second egg, both birds were very active in the air. At first it appeared they were chasing an intruder, but they weren?t. It was the Peregrine equivalent of ballroom dancing - they were flying and hovering together. Surge would dive right at Madame X but not hit her. It was quite the display! Eventually Surge headed to the nest ledge to incubate the eggs and Madame X left for a break. About 3:45 Madame X returned. Surge hopped up off the eggs, marched down the nest ledge to meet her and watchers had their avian biology lesson for the day!

TWO EGGS - SURGE CONFIRMED

March 31, 2009 - At 14:45 this afternoon Falconwatchers in our Stelco Tower viewing were able to see a second large brown egg through a telescope. The egg is also in view when Madame X leaves the scrape. While they were watching the nest male Peregrine landed on the ledge outside the Stelco window with his bands clearly visible, allowing us to confirm that he is indeed Surge, back for his fourth year at the Sheraton Hamilton nest.

FIRST EGG OF 2009!

March 29, 2009 - At 14:15 this afternoon Madame X rose from her crouched position in the nest ledge to join Surge in chasing away a small falcon. Falconwatchers who happened to be in our 23rd floor viewing location took advantage of the opportunity to get a good binocular and telescope look into the scrape - and were very pleased to see a nice large brown egg!!! At the moment the egg is not easily seen on the TV camera pictures because it the scrape is quite deep and the egg is toward the back of the ledge.

EGGS SOON?

March 25, 2009 - Madame X and Surge are spending much more time in the nest area and on the ledge. Perhaps in the picture at left they are making sure things are ready for egg-laying, which should start in the next week. In preparation for that event, as of this morning Falconwatch's Jackson Square television monitor and information station is up and running. It is located in the aisle closest to King Street, on the James St. side of the Sheraton Hotel, between the Virgin Mobile cell phone sales booth and the stairway. Easiest access to the monitor is through the mall doors at 100 King St. West. Falconwatch would like to thank the Jackson Square Dental Office for sharing their booth with our monitor.

PLAYING THE WAITING GAME

March 19, 2009 - This week's sunny weather has resulted in the adults being pretty active in the downtown area. They are often on the nest ledge together. The image at left was taken around 15:00 on March 16. We continue to watch for eggs. Stay tuned.

Great news from Lansing, Michigan! Stelco, the 1997 Sheraton Hamilton female who has nested in Lansing since 2000, was replaced at the nest by a different female after last summer's very successful season. Observers feared the worst. On March 9 Stelco all of a sudden reappeared at the nest and took her 'rightful' place. We will continue to keep an eye on 'our girl'.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR!

March 16, 2009 - As can be seen from both the live and Gallery Falconcam images, the adult Peregrines are spending a lot of time on and near the nest ledge, even in the dark. Thanks to the new camera we can see that today both of them were on the ledge at 4:30AM. Falconwatchers have reported mating activity, so if all goes well we should be seeing eggs in the nest pretty soon. With the current warm weather this might happen earlier than the normal end of March timing. Stay tuned!.

SHERATON GETS NEW GENERAL MANAGER AND NEW 'O',

FALCONWATCHERS (AND FALCONS) GET NEW TV CAMERA

March 9, 2009 - There has been a lot of activity at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel since last summer's Falconwatch activities - the Sheraton Hotel itself has changed hands, the plastic cover of the 'O' in the Sheraton sign was ripped away by wild winter winds and recently replaced, and a new TV camera purchased with funds from a TD Friends of the Environment grant was received. On February 5, 2009, just after the camera was installed by Hamilton Video and Sound (picture at left), Falconwatch leaders Audrey Gamble, John Merriman and Mike Street met with Mr. Bill Brown, the new Sheraton General Manager, to discuss the 2009 season, potentially the fifteenth nesting (Yes, 15!) of Peregrine Falcons at the Sheraton.

The adult Peregrines spent the winter of 2008-2009 roosting at various locations around the Hamilton downtown core. They have been aggressively defending their nest site high above the King Street side of the Sheraton. We have been able to confirm that Madame X is back for her ninth year and are reasonably certain that the male is again Surge. We hope to confirm this soon. This page will be updated as any Falcon-news is received.

In 2008 Madame X and Surge hatched four chicks, Duncan, Blashill, Miles and Elstone. All four chicks fledged successfully. Miles suffered an injury to his tail which required some medical attention, but he was soon back in the air with his siblings. You can read more about their exploits in the History section.

Madame X was hatched 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.

Hatched and banded in Etobicoke in 2002, Surge spent at least part of the 2004-2005 seasons trying to establish a nest at the Burlington Lift Bridge. In 2006 he replaced the male at the Sheraton nest and has been in Hamilton since.

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 ninth year in Hamilton and Surge's fourht, and the fifteenth 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.

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