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FALCONWATCH 2010 WINDS DOWN

July 15, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: After watching today it has become clear that Chedoke has recovered, improved and matured beyond the need for us to continue the watch any longer, so this will be my final report for Falconwatch 2010. Since her return Chedoke has rebonded easily with siblings Peter, Joseph and Henderson, and been accepted back by Madame X and Surge. She is now flying so well that she blends right in with the others, probably the only time I've ever been happy about not being able to tell them apart. It has been a great privilege to have taken part in this project, and watching these six birds over the last month and a bit has rekindled my respect and admiration for this majestic species. Although the chicks are roaming further as they mature, all six - Peter, Henderson, Joseph, Chedoke, Madame X and Surge - can still be seen quite often around the King and Bay area.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lead and Senior monitors as well as all of the Falconwatch volunteers for their dedicated devotion to seeing that these chicks have the best chance of survival. Without you Falconwatch would not happen! Thanks to your efforts four more Peregrines are soaring through the skies.

We will continue to keep the camera showing the nest for little while longer. Occasionally one of the Peregrines will return to the ledge.

Falconwatch volunteers continue to raise funds for the 2010 season. Falconwatch does not cost tons of money, but there are expenses to be covered. You can make a tax creditable donation to help Falconwatch 2010 by clicking on the 'Make a Donation' link above. Every donation is appreciated and acknowledged.

ALMOST DONE

July 14, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: It has been one week since Chedoke's return and, though still a little behind the others, she's catching up. Today Chedoke kept busy practicing carrying random items about and pouncing on things. At one point I watched her take hold of a rope coiled on the roof of the Sheraton which she then, or so it seemed, tried to carry away. Of course it was much too heavy, so she succeeded only in making me laugh. Around 17:30 all four chicks - Peter, Henderson, Joseph and Chedoke - were airborne and engaged in a game of tag, touching talons, stooping on one another and evading each other's attacks. It was wonderful to see all four flying together, and a great relief to those watching, that Chedoke was able to keep up and effectively defend herself in the mock combat. There is one skill in which Chedoke has surpassed her siblings however, and that is mantling, where a bird extends its wings to cover an item of food and keep other birds away. Somehow this evening, amidst a flurry of falcons, one of the chicks wound up with food on the roof of the Standard Life building. Before we could even identify the bird with the food Chedoke marched right in and grabbed whatever it was. She defended it so well that, rather than making any more attempts to take some from Chedoke, Peter and Joseph were actually squabbling over which of them was going to be next in line to get something to eat. Chedoke did eventually let them have some. Things are going so well with the birds that tomorrow we will make a decision on whether or not to continue Falconwatch 2010 or call it a season.

FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS (FALCONS)

July 13, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: It was another day of practice, practice and more practice, with Chedoke building her confidence, Peter pouncing on and playing with his food, Henderson soaring high above the city and Joseph chasing anything he can, including a Robin only a few feet above the ground. The fledglings are all doing very well. I know I've said it before, but they DO get better with every day that passes. This morning Chedoke received some love and affection from Madame X, in the form of two food drops. She had most of the first one but one of her siblings, who shall remain nameless, took the second fresh meal right out from under her. Not to worry though; a short time later Madame X returned with some leftovers for Chedoke. This evening Chedoke did some pirating of her own - when Henderson received a food drop from Madame X Chedoke quickly took the food from Henderson's talons before she even had a chance to object. This evening all four chicks were together for a short reunion on the Standard Life building, enjoying yet another meal supplied by Madame X. It is clear that Madame X and Surge are still regularly feeding and watching over the chicks. It seems even the fiercest of predators have a soft spot for their little ones.

PROGRESS ALL AROUND

July 12, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: More signs of improvement all around. The three eldest fledglings are continuing to improve their hunting skills. Although we didn't actually see captures, on two occasions today circumstances led us to believe that Joseph and Henderson had both caught their own food. Exciting! Aside from painfully long siestas, meaning that her flights today were few and far between, Chedoke is still improving and impressing Falconwatchers. It is really quite remarkable how fast these young birds learn and pick up new tricks and abilities. This evening Chedoke was flying around with her siblings, something she was having trouble with before her injury and has been reluctant to try since her return. Nothing but good news from the chicks today!

CHEDOKE FLIES TO NEW HEIGHTS

July 11, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Chedoke watching was very exciting today as she flew all over the downtown area, landing on and exploring the roofs of buildings she'd not previously visited. Just after 09:00 Madame X flew in with a very big pigeon clutched in her talons, which Henderson quickly took over in a flawless and impressive aerial exchange over City Hall. Henderson then landed on the roof of the convention Centre where she was joined by Peter and Joseph to enjoy the meal. Chedoke, who had been sitting on the Standard Life building after her first flight of the day, got the message and soon took flight, gliding straight to her siblings with only a few flaps of her wings. Impressive! For much of the afternoon Surge was perched on the BDC building, and it seemed as though Chedoke wanted to join him on his high perch. She circled BDC many times, progressively getting higher and higher until she was well above BDC. Unfortunately though, by the time Chedoke landed on the BDC roof, Surge had already left. Still, it was a great achievement and a sure sign that her skills and abilities are improving.

ELTON'S IN TOWN!

July 10, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Chedoke got off to a slow start today. This morning she remained perched in the same spot on the north side of the Standard Life building where she spent the night until around 08:00, when she made a short but strong flight, landing on the upper roof of Standard Life. Once there she seemed to have trouble deciding what to do. One minute she'd be flapping and hopping around, the next she'd find a good place to lay down, then she'd sit up and start calling - to no avail - for a food delivery. After a while carrying on this way, Chedoke stumbled upon some leftovers which she had no problem cleaning up. With food in her belly it was time for a siesta. After Chedoke woke up the other chicks dropped by the Standard Life building a few times to visit with her, but she didn't fly again until 21:25, making a few laps around the home turf in the almost dark and landing on top of the Sheraton Hotel, where we left her for the night. I think she just wanted to get a better spot to listen to the Elton John concert next door at Copps Coliseum. Madame X and Surge were seen together doing some housekeeping in and around the nest ledge today. Perhaps they're happy to have the nest to themselves again, or maybe it's a hint to the youngsters?

CHEDOKE MAKES PROGRESS

July 9, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: This morning's rain made for a slow start since the birds are for the most part inactive when it's wet. After patiently waiting, once the rains ended Chedoke began preening. When her feathers were all in order it wasn't long before she took her first flight of the day. Today we saw some reassuring behaviour that leads us to believe Chedoke is getting back to her old self. A good example came when Henderson, carrying food she had received from Madame X in an aerial exchange, landed next to Chedoke. Almost immediately Chedoke stole the food from Henderson and ran off, trying to mantle it while running, which looked pretty silly. You may recall that Chedoke was known to steal food from Henderson when they were both still in the nest. I guess old habits die hard. Peter, Joseph and Henderson are also continuing to improve their hunting techniques. Although we haven't seen any captures yet, we did see a few close attempts today, one of them near ground level in the School Board parking lot. As the saying goes "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." That's exactly what they're doing.

NO REST FOR FALCONS OR FALCONWATCHERS

July 8, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: After spending her first day and night back home in various places on top of the Sheraton, around 06:00 today Chedoke made a strong flight from the Sheraton out over King Street and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, then landed pretty well on the Standard Life building. This was the first of four very good flights today. On Standard Life she hopped about, snacking on leftover food and generally exploring. A rather large puddle of standing water from yesterday's rains proved too enticing in today's 43°C equivalent heat, so she waded in and began splashing, dipping and dunking every thing she could in the water. Once refreshed from the bath Chedoke flew to the roof of the Thompson building where where she was joined for a while by Henderson. While still on Thompson Chedoke enjoyed a private meal delivered by Surge and supervised by Madame X, who was watching closely from the Stelco tower. Without wasting any time after the meal, Chedoke flew out past the Art Gallery, circled over the Board of Education and zipped north between Sheraton and Standard Life to circle over Copps Coliseum, finally making an excellent landing on Standard Life. She then ran into the shade and slept for the entire afternoon. After the siesta Chedoke joined Peter, Joseph and Henderson in a brief game of tag. Their idea of tag may be a little too rough; Chedoke decided to sit out the rest of the game and found a perch on the Federal building on Bay Street, and was still there when night fell.

Although she seemed to be favouring her left wing a bit toward the end of her very busy day, Falconwatchers are very pleased with Chedoke's progress. With luck her training will resume in the cooler weather that is forecast after today's rains end. Because of the extra week of flying they have had, her siblings may help the parents out in this essential task.

CHEDOKE BACK AT THE SHERATON

July 7, 2010, evening - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: This morning Chedoke returned home and was released on the roof of the Sheraton Hotel, close to the nest ledge, at approximately 10:50 (image at left). She spent the remainder of the day on the Sheraton's roof testing different perches or trying to beat the heat by hiding in the shade. This afternoon Henderson paid her long lost sibling a visit, during which they were seen touching beaks and getting reacquainted. A short time later the boys dropped in to say hello as well. Today's heat followed by the rains seemed to put a damper on any flying attempts by Chedoke. We did, however, see Peter, Henderson and Joseph, cruising the thermals high into the sky in the mid-day sun and even flying about in the rain.

I'M COMIN' HOME, I'VE DONE MY TIME

July 7, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Falconwatch 2010 is being restarted to keep a close eye on Chedoke when she comes back this morning from the rehab facility. The picture at left was taken yesterday. She sure looks ready, doesn't she?

CHEDOKE COMING BACK SOON!

July 5, 2010 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Chedoke has come through the x-ray process with flying colours. The veterinarian and rehab facility report says, "No breaks. Holding and flapping both wings well. No evidence of swelling or soreness. Eating well. Moved to release training cage for a bit more monitoring. Ready to come home soon."

Chedoke's gender has also been confirmed - she's a girl! The uncertainty about this arose because of her extremely low weight at banding; despite a larger than expected leg thickness, at 518 grams she was way below the average weight for a female of that age. Obviously she has been fed well in the five weeks since banding! Although we have stopped the morning and evening watches for lack of 'watchees', we will be lining up volunteers to keep an eye on Chedoke when she is released on the Sheraton roof.

ALMOST ON THEIR OWN

July 3, 2010 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Today was the first day of 'split shifts', watching the juveniles only during their most active periods in the early morning and the last few hours before dusk. This stage is always a big transition from knowing where the chicks are every minute of the day. While we have been focused on waiting for Chedoke to fly and keeping her safe, her siblings have advanced by leaps and bounds (literally). In the early morning Saturday they hunted ferociously, swooping into trees around the Board of Education building and even landing on a light standard on Bay Street. The heat of the day toned things down and it was well into the evening before we had all three youngsters in sight simultaneously. One spent the evening hunting with Madame X. Just as we were preparing to leave for the evening, this juvenile hunter returned to Standard Life with his trophy. We haven't actually seen a juvenile make a catch yet, but whether he caught it himself or took it from an adult, he did an awful lot of bragging about it.

July 4, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: It is becoming increasingly difficult to actually "watch" the fledglings now that their daily escapades are taking them further and further from home. When they are in the neighbourhood, however, their skilful flight is very impressive and it's even more impressive knowing that it's only going to get better. On several occasions Sunday chicks were seen in hot pursuit of prey. Though there were some close calls, no captures were seen, so for the time being Madame X and Surge continue to provide the meals. We had more Peregrines in the trees again today, presumably chasing some opinionated Robins that have nests in the area and have been seen quite frequently scolding the Peregrines for getting too close for comfort. Unfortunately, for the Robins, I think that their valiant efforts are only leading the young falcons right where they don't want them to go.

Chedoke continues to rest comfortably and today's report is that she is eating; always a good sign.

REACHING FOR THE SKY

July 2, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: This morning while working on their hunting techniques, i.e. chasing anything in flight, the chicks were flying pretty low over the King and Bay area, causing Falconwatchers to fret like worried parents about their safety. At one point, a Robin Peter was chasing flew into the safety of a pine tree, or so it thought. Peter proceeded to follow the Robin right into the tree, looking more like a Goshawk than a Peregrine. Yikes! Luckily they both flew away none the worse for wear.

By mid-day the chicks had moved on to soaring practice. Peter, Henderson and Joseph were riding the thermals together higher and higher above the city until they were no longer visible to the naked eye, and were even getting hard to track with binoculars. Up, up and away! The image at left shows what Falconwatchers often see when observing from the ground - a dark Peregrine shape with no clear identifying features. It isn't always easy to tell who's who. When the birds get as far up in the sky as they were today, the only thing certain is that you are looking at Peregrines.

FOOD TRANSFERS - CHEDOKE UPDATE

July 1, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Peter, Henderson and Joseph celebrated their first Canada Day by continuing to improve their skills and increase their abilities. There were a number of aerial food exchanges today, with one or other chick taking food from an adult while both were flying, as well as a few regular style food drops. I'm beginning to think that the different food delivery methods aren't as much training for the chicks as they are survival tactics for the adults. The young ones are ferocious - and seemingly fearless - when it comes to trying to take food from their parents in mid-air. Today we also saw the three of them beginning to hunt, chasing potential prey in flight. It seemed like they were chasing anything that flew by. At one point a helicopter flew overhead and it looked as if Henderson was trying to chase that too. Henderson, I think you should stick to chasing birds for now!!

I know the question on everyone's mind is "How's Chedoke?" Well, Chedoke is currently staying at a rehabilitation facility while awaiting x-rays, which may take a few days to obtain. We're told that Chedoke is doing well and is as feisty as ever.

CHEDOKE RESCUED AND OK

June 30, 2010 - Falconwatch Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Wouldn't you know it, the exciting stuff always happens when the Coordinator's away! In the early hours of this morning Falconwatchers lost sight of Chedoke after she flew from the Thomson Building. It was a while before she was relocated on the entrance marquee of the Stelco Tower, not far above street level. During the early part of the day Chedoke was active - walking back and forth along the marquee, bright, alert and responding to movement in the sky above. Whenever an adult peregrine passed over Chedoke called to them and was obviously indignant at missing lunch. Falconwatchers, not having seen the flight or landing, were uncertain of the sequence of events that brought her to this low perch and kept close watch. As the day wore on it became apparent that Chedoke had sustained a wing injury. In the early evening a rescue was made by Coordinator Brad and last year's Coordinator Sandra Davey, now a member of our Rescue Team. Chedoke, whose adventure even made the news, is at a rehabilitation facility, full of energy and very feisty. An x-ray is scheduled for today. We will advise the situation as soon as we know ourselves. The other three chicks spent the day flying high and free, playing tag and continuing to develop their skills.

Thanks VERY much to members of the public who, although interested in this beautiful wild creature respected her space and safety (and provided the photo of Chedoke on the Stelco marquee at left), to Yale Properties who assisted in her security and rescue, to the Hamilton Police Department for assistance with traffic, and to well wishers who offered assistance and good wishes. Chedoke is resting safe and sound, and we will keep you posted on results of her upcoming x-rays.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

June 29, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Now that the chicks are capable of flight - well, Chedoke's almost there - they've come to realize that they no longer have to wait for an adult to come to them with food and so have began flying to meet Madame X and Surge whenever they arrive on the scene, whether they have food or not. This can make it verrry difficult to keep track of who's who when five or six falcons are flying over the King St. area simultaneously. The ever increasing flying ability of the oldest three chicks is really quite remarkable, especially in today's high winds; strong gusts were responsible for an accidental take off made by the inexperienced Chedoke, whose practice wing flapping turned into a flight from the Standard Life building to the Thomson Building. If you were to have checked the web cam around 14:30 you would have caught a glimpse of Peter who returned to the nest (image at left) for a little rest and reflection this afternoon. Ahh, Home, sweet home.

CHEDOKE TAKES TO THE AIR!!!!

June 28, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: At 07:40 this morning Chedoke, the last 2010 chick to make the leap, finally did it! After a nice strong flight out over King St. and the Art Gallery of Hamilton she returned to the upper roof of the Sheraton where she made a much better than normal first landing. This was only one of many very good first day flights. When not flying Chedoke explored new territory, trying out new perches, eating and sleeping. She even returned to the nest ledge for a couple of hours (image at left, taken at 14:30). At one point this morning Surge brought food to the nest ledge and seemed surprised to find that Chedoke wasn't there. Surge was later seen taking a bath in a puddle on the roof of the Standard Life building. He looked more like a duck than a falcon. Another interesting observation made today was Henderson assuming Madame X's role at meal time on two occasions, feeding her siblings beak to beak. Henderson also had her first chase this evening when she left her perch atop the Standard Life building in pursuit of a gull. The gull got away - this time.

ANY MINUTE NOW!

June 27, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: It wasn't too long ago that Falconwatchers were concerned if we couldn't see all four chicks in the nest. Now we can't wait to see the nest empty, at least briefly, and Chedoke finally flying. Chedoke is definitely getting restless and has been flapping more and more, as in the image at left taken just before 16:00 today, but just hasn't managed to get off of the nest ledge more than a few inches. Madame X is staying very close by, almost certainly so she can be right there with Chedoke when she finally takes off. Meanwhile Peter, Henderson and Joseph continue to improve their skills and aerial abilities, practicing stoops and touching talons in good old fashioned games of tag. More aerial food exchanges were made today and everyone, including Chedoke who had her food delivered to the nest, seemed to get their fill. This afternoon Peter took off after a passing pigeon, chasing it for a short distance. Maybe we'll be moving on to hunting lessons soon.

OVERNIGHT COMPANY

June 26, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: The image at left, taken just before 22:00 Friday night, shows all four chicks back on the nest ledge for the first time since one of them tried the skies. These return visits will become fewer as time goes on, but it is nice to know that Slow-poke Chedoke has company overnight.

For a few days now the Peregrines have had frequent visits by a rather determined American Robin who has been quite valiantly trying to shoo away the larger birds. The chicks seem more curious than threatened by the quixotic little bird, and Madame X has so far been ignoring the attempts made to chase her off. One can't help but wonder how long either X's patience or the Robin's luck will last. More aerial food transfers were made today, with the youngsters taking food from the adults in flight, as well as attempting to pirate food from one another after an exchange. The curiosity of the young birds is leading them to explore new territory. This afternoon Henderson found a spot she liked on the CIBC west building, where she seemed to enjoy a little R&R away from her siblings. Flight skills continue too improve all around. Yes, even Chedoke, though not yet out of the nest, was seen "helicoptering" and taking mini flights back and forth along the nest ledge. That may not be a "first flight", but it's an improvement.

DANCING WITH FALCONS

June 25, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: For a while today it looked as though Chedoke was practising for the TV dancing show. The high-step in the image at left occurred at 07:36. Although there was plenty of action in the vicinity all day, she has still not quite figured out what her wings are for and how to use them for that purpose. Any minute now....

Meanwhile, back at the watch, keeping track of Peter, Joseph and Henderson can be a little tricky now that they're flying often. For example, picture all three birds in the air together and four Falconwatchers having them all in sight. All of a sudden the birds turn a corner and only watcher is able to see them, then swoosh, right before that person's eyes they disappear in three different directions. And that's with just three chicks in the air. Soon we'll have four. Shortly after 21:00 this evening all four chicks were back in the nest for the first time since Peter's first flight. Two food drops at the nest brought about the the reunion and each chick got its fill. At that point I believe the nest was the quietest it has been in weeks. Watching Peter, Henderson and Joseph flying together playing tag, touching talons and then returning to the nest to join Chedoke for dinner made the long day seem worthwhile.

TAKING FALCON LESSONS

June 24, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Now that we have three birds in the air, Falconwatch has become even more exciting. Around 08:30 this morning Peter flew onto the nest ledge carrying some food and proceeded to eat it alone, keeping his back to a somewhat surprised and annoyed Chedoke. (In the image at left Chedoke is closest to the camera.) Today Henderson joined Peter and Joseph in some mock aerial combat, touching talons and tagging each other in flight. She was soon outmanoeuvred by the superior agility of the boys and left behind. Though Henderson missed a few landings today, she recovered nicely from them and is flying quite well. She also found the puddle on the roof of the Standard Life building, where she took a bath and splashed about in the water. All four of the chicks have been playing with their food - pouncing on it, hopping around while perched with something in their grasp and 'hop-flying' short distances with food. This is all part of learning how to be falcons. Practice makes perfect.

HOME ALONE - WELL, NOT ALWAYS

June 23, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Chedoke spent much of the day testing her wings, showing off her almost totally brown plumage, and resting on her tummy in what Falconwatchers call the 'pancake' position. If she noticed the earthquake at 13:41 it didn't show, but she must have seen people temporarily evacuating the school board and Fairclough buildings just across the street. (Our camera did catch a slight wiggle.) Just before 17:00, with light rain falling, one of the flying chicks - Peter we think - came back to the nest ledge for about 15 minutes. That's him on the left at left, with Chedoke's head poking out of the corner.

On the aerial front, there was lots more high flying fun and adventure for our wannabe aerobats today. As they continued to practice and improve their skills, there was lots of pouncing on food, jumping around and flying from perch to perch with a piece of food clutched in their feet. Today we saw two direct aerial transfers of food, where the chick takes the item in its feet from the feet of the adult in flight. VERY impressive! Joseph took another bath in the puddle on the Standard Life building while Peter watched him from the water's edge, seemingly unsure of the whole situation. This evening Peter, Henderson and Joseph were playing tag on foot on the roof of Standard Life and then Peter and Joseph went airborne, taking turns chasing and tagging each other either by touching talons or tapping the other one on the back in flight. There were a few appearances by our little Kestrel friend today, but it seemed to be less aggressive. Maybe it got the point, of a Peregrine's beak or talons, yesterday?

FLYING ON HER OWN - HENDERSON JOINS HER BROTHERS

June 22, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Perhaps with the title of the Rita McNeil song in mind, at 05:58 this morning Henderson left the nest ledge and flew to the Fairclough building. After an aborted landing there she flew east and was lost to sight for almost an hour. Shortly after 07:00 one of the adults brought breakfast to Peter and Joseph on the Standard Life building and Henderson landed beside them seconds later. She took some short flights throughout the day and by this evening was showing impressive skills for her first day of flying. The image at left shows Henderson just as she lifted off this morning.

If you checked the webcam after 07:00 and for a greater part of the day (except when a brief downtown power failure knocked out the camera) you would have seen Chedoke doing the Peregrine equivalent to pouting, feeling left out and all alone on the nest ledge. Peter and Joseph are both rapidly improving their flying and taking longer and longer flights. This evening they both left their perch on the Fairclough building following Madame X south toward the BDC building and began a game of tag which took them all over the downtown core. The pesky Kestrel was back again today testing its luck with Madame X, who so far seems to be quite tolerant of the little falcon. Someone should tell that bird he's not too big to be on the dinner menu!

LEARNING THE ROPES

June 21, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Flying lessons have begun, for Peter and Joseph at least. Henderson and Chedoke (left, at 20:00 this evening) have been eagerly watching but have yet to join in the fun. Our two flyers are quickly learning how to handle themselves in the air. Joseph, who in the beginning we thought might need a helmet, is certainly picking up the dos and don'ts and has made some pretty impressive landings. The star pupil today though was Peter, who circled up high above Stelco riding the thermals so gracefully that Falconwatchers said he was "flying like an adult". Peter was later seen cruising above downtown Hamilton practicing little mini stoops (swooping down with his wings tucked). It looked like he and Joseph were both just having fun flying around. Some of the local American Kestrels introduced themselves today. One chased Peter around for a short time this afternoon and then this evening Madame X did an aerial dance with another one. Silly little falcons! A Red-tailed Hawk also drifted into the restricted airspace over the nest, and not long after that a Turkey Vulture soared over. That's four different birds of prey over downtown Hamilton within a half hour. Now all we need to see is a Bald Eagle.

JOSEPH GOES EXPLORING

June 20, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Now that both Peter and Joseph are flying regularly, Henderson (left, just after 07:00 today) looks as if she's going to jump any minute. Things are getting pretty exiting for Falconwatchers. Although Peter was the first to fly, Joseph is definitely the adventurous one. He spent much of his day trying out new perches and investigating rooftops. At 12:00 I watched him take what I believe to be his first ever bath, in a puddle on the roof of the Standard Life building. Joseph waded in so deep that the water was up to his belly. Then he commenced splashing about, dunking his head under water and using the backs of his wings to throw water onto his back, making it look as if he'd done it many times before.

Both Joseph and Peter got more practice flying, and more importantly, landing. Their flights are getting longer too. Madame X and Surge seem to be rewarding those who fly with their meals first. This quite obviously upsets Henderson; food will no doubt be the reason she makes her first flight. Chedoke is looking more and more like the others and has been getting plenty of exercise on the nest ledge with Henderson. Madame X has been showing us that she's still got it. This evening I watched her dive From the Fairclough building lightning rod to catch a bird over the city centre, moments later returning with supper. After dinner Joseph returned to the nest and Peter chose to perch on the Stelco tower for the night.

JOSEPH TAKES TO THE AIR!

June 19, 2010 evening - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: At 07:00 this morning Peter was perched on the roof of the Fairclough building when Madame X came in with breakfast. Using a technique we have seen the adult Peregrines use many times, she didn't bring the meal directly to Peter; instead she flew right by him and then over to the Standard Life building. Peter got the message and quickly joined his mother. The big surprise was that Joseph took off from the nest ledge, flew straight out over King Street, and then after a nice 180° turn made a beeline for Madame X and Peter. The image at left shows Joseph, closest to the camera, just 10 seconds before he flew for the first time.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet, with Joseph and Peter wandering around the edge of Standard Life while Henderson and Chedoke practiced flapping on the Sheraton ledge. Until 19:00 that is. Just as we were going through a Falconwatcher shift change Joseph took off and flew strongly to the top of the Stelco tower. He tried to land there but couldn't, so he crossed King Street to the main roof of the Fairclough building, where a bad landing had us worried for a few minutes until he walked out into the open and shook himself off. Within minutes Joseph was off again, this time to the upper roof of the Sheraton. With a few more landings under his belt Joseph will be just fine. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

TWO AWAY!!! June 19, 2010 - At exactly 07:00 today, Saturday, Joseph took off on his first flight. He was quickly joined by Peter, and the two of them settled down for a chat on the upper structure of the Standard Life building. Details to follow. Here we go!!!!

FLYING ON HIS OWN!

June 18, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Peter was once again the center of attention on today's watch. Although he is only two days out of the nest, when watching him fly you might think him to be an old pro. Around 11:30 this morning he left the 15th floor of the Stelco tower and flew north, circled west and gained enough altitude to make it onto the roof of the Stelco tower. After that he could be seen throughout the day flying high over the city or perched on the roofs of the Stelco tower, the Fairclough building and the BDC Building . On a few occasions he was even joined by Madame X and Surge in flight. On two occasions this evening we saw all three of them flying together; after the second time he was rewarded with his own private meal on the Fairclough building. Then around 21:00 Peter landed right in front of me on the window ledge of the 22nd floor where I was lucky enough to get the close-up pictures at left. What a charge!!!

Henderson and Joseph are both behaving in ways that suggest either could leave the nest at any minute. Oh, and we can't forget little Chedoke, who is not looking so little any more; she is even browner and was up on the ledge exercising a lot today. When chicks fly is a complex matter of age, development, weight and confidence. The fact no-one has followed Peter yet suggests that his first flight may have been more wind assisted than intentional, but there's no doubt that when he did go he was the most flight-capable of the four.

GETTING UP IN THE WORLD!

June 17, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Another day of anxious waiting for Falconwatchers. This morning Peter was perched right where we left him at dusk last night, on the lower roof of the Thompson building overlooking the Copps Coliseum plaza (image at left). After a move to the lower roof of the Sheraton and two very good but unsuccessful attempts to get to the top of Thompson, he landed back on Thompson's lower roof where he stayed for most of the day, flying a bit and walking back and forth. Then, shortly after 20:00 this evening, Peter surprised us all when he suddenly lifted off and flew east over the city centre, circled back a couple of times gaining altitude and finally made a very soft landing on the northwest corner of the Stelco tower's 15th floor. Way to go Peter!! Back at the ranch, siblings Henderson and Joseph have yet to take to the air more than a few inches above the ledge, and Chedoke is only rarely seen on the ledge. We'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

PETER'S FIRST FLIGHT - FALCONS BY SKYPE

June 16, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: If you checked the webcam in the later part of this afternoon you may have noticed one chick missing from the picture. Where's Peter? Well, at 16:20 Peter made his first flight from the nest. We're not sure if it was completely voluntary or if the strong winds 'persuaded' him it was time to go, but off he went. Accompanied by Madame X he did a lap around the Sheraton and looked good doing it. When he couldn't quite make it back up onto the Sheraton he landed on the Thompson building next door instead. The image at left shows Peter seconds before he lifted off. Once on the Thompson building he walked and flew back and forth on the roof for several hours. In the end he decided not to try a second flight today and to spend his first night away from home. Don't worry though, Mom and Dad aren't far away. Sooner or later, most likely sooner, his siblings will be joining him on his adventures away from the nest. Joseph and Henderson are showing signs of restlessness and even little Chedoke, who was back on the ledge again today, was flapping up a storm (of down feathers). They grow up so fast. Just 42 days ago they were eggs, and now they're starting to fly.

This wasn't the only excitement today. As the 20+ participants in the Hamilton Naturalists' Club Wednesday Night Walk learned more about Peregrines and then viewed Peter close-up from the Copps Coliseum plaza with Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble, Senior Monitor Mike Street and Falconwatcher Norma Bingham were conducting a 40-minute 'Show, tell and question' session with students on the other side of the world. They were connected by Skype through a small computer sitting on the hood of a car in the school board parking lot across the street from the Sheraton Hamilton. (Isn't technology amazing?) With the Hamilton Falconwatch website full-screen on the Smartboard in their classroom as a backdrop, more than a dozen children in Mr. Bayaziti's Grade 3 class at Gulfview Heights Primary school near Adelaide, South Australia heard first how in the 1950s and '60s Peregrines in eastern North America were wiped out by the effects of the pesticide DDT, and then how the reintroduction program launched by the governments of Canada and the United States has been so successful. Each of the Australian kids then asked a very well thought out question and got replies from Norma and Mike. The exchange will continue in the fall when Norma's Grade 5-6 class at St. George-German School connects directly with the class in Australia.

STOP THE PRESS!!! FIRST CHICK TAKES FLIGHT! June 16, 2010 - At 16:20 this afternoon the first chick of 2010 left the Sheraton ledge and flew out over King Street. It landed a few minutes later on the adjacent Thompson building and seems just fine. We think it was Peter but will confirm as son as we can. Stay tuned!

CHEDOKE MAKES IT TO THE LEDGE!

June 15, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Today's watch was comparable to waiting for water to boil. The more you want it to happen the longer it seems to take. This was the case while we waited for one of the chicks to take flight. It seemed for the most part though that they were happy to simply hop up on the ledge, flap for a bit, look around and then go back to sleep. In the end, however, our patience was somewhat rewarded shortly after 20:00. First Joseph and then Peter were both flapping their wings hard enough to lift themselves off of the ledge a few inches, which is referred to as "helicoptering", a sure sign of imminent flight according to experienced Falconwatchers. Then sister Henderson joined in the action but preferred to keep her feet on the ground. Finally, around 20:30 - drum roll please - Chedoke made her first hop onto the ledge, as can be seen in the image at left. Better late than never, and she did look a bit pleased with herself. Maybe we'll see some flying lessons tomorrow. Let's hope for soft landings.

ANOTHER GOOD DAY FOR MADAME X

June 14, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: This is an exciting time for Falconwatchers, anxiously watching and waiting for the first chick to leave the nest. I had a special treat today as both Surge and Madame X, on separate occasions, perched right in front of me on the window ledge of the Stelco tower. They truly are magnificent creatures. What was not quite so beautiful was Madame X casting a pellet right in front of me. Eeew! Just in case you don't know, birds of prey don't waste much when it comes to food. They eat their prey, fur or feathers, bones and all, then later regurgitate the indigestible bits in a nice compact little package called a "pellet". During this visit I was able to get the picture of her at left. Around 14:30 Madame X dove from the ledge and caught a big pigeon so low over King Street that, with the extra weight, she had a hard time regaining altitude and just cleared the walkway that crosses the street. She then took her prize back to Stelco to "prepare" it, having a good meal herself before taking the remainder over to the chicks.

CHEDOKE COMING ALONG NICELY

June 13, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: There were some tense moments today while watching the chicks exercising on the ledge. Peter and Joseph are now strong enough to slide themselves backwards with their flapping. More than once I watched them flap themselves to the King Street edge of the ledge and then hop back to safety at the last second. They are flapping their wings for longer periods of time, as well as running and hopping while flapping, which is a sign they will be taking their first flights soon. Even 'baby' Chedoke could be seen flapping her wings, showing almost completely brown flight feathers (image at left, taken at 20:15 this evening), throughout the day. Now we wait.....

HOW DO YOU LIKE MY PANTALOONS?

June 12, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Today was another day of eat, sleep and exercise for the chicks and hunting for the adults. At different times Madame X was seen in pursuit of a Mourning Dove and a Rock Pigeon. I saw her tap the pigeon and think that was the 19:30 meal. The youngsters continue to strengthen and develop, and get darker. The contrast between juvenile brown and the white of natal down is quite visble in the image of Joseph - yellow band on still blue feet - at left, taken at 07:08 this morning. The white 'pantallons' on his upper legs will be gone in a few days.

The oldest three, Peter, Henderson and Joseph, are getting closer and closer to the edge of the ledge and flapping up a storm, sending puffs of down drifting to the street below. This also makes it easier to catch a glimpse of them from the sidewalks below; if you happen to pass by during a feeding you will most likely be able to hear the uproar in the nest above. Now that the birds are on the ledge they will be flying soon (Peregrine's first flights usually take place between 39 and 49 days old, depending on how heavy they are. Peter, the oldest, is 37 days old today.) At 05:00 tomorrow, Sunday, June 13, Falconwatch 2010's street watch will begin. Volunteers will be on site until dark every day until the chicks are fledged.

LINE DANCING ANYONE?

June 11, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Early today Henderson finally got back up on the ledge to join her brothers Peter and Joseph. This is the first time all three have been seen on the ledge together. The image at left, with Chedoke - note her all dark flight feathers - still in the nest behind them, was taken at 06:52 this morning. By the end of the day they were all looking quite comfortable side by side. The hot sun made it another lazy afternoon in the nest, but there was plenty of exercising, preening and stretching towards evening. The four are getting stronger every minute. All of the wing flapping is convincing me that it won't be long until we start calling the chicks "fledglings". What's a fledgling? A fledgling is a young bird that has recently become capable of flight, learned whatever its parents have tried to teach it, and left the nest. Soon we will have four of them.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!!

June 10, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: If you checked the webcam today there?s a good chance you saw four birds sleeping. It was another restful day for the brood. When not at rest the chicks could be seen preening, stretching, exercising and eating. And eating. And eating. The image at left, taken just after 19:00 this evening, shows Madame X and three chicks during one of the many feedings. (Chedoke was there too, but just out of camera range.) At this point the youngsters are changing so fast, as they continue to grow and lose their down, that they look different every day. There were times today when there was so much down in the air it looked like it was snowing in the nest. Strong gusts of wind this afternoon were a bit of a worry because the chicks are still small enough that a good strong gust might blow them right off of the ledge. Speaking of off the ledge, Peter was flapping hard enough to slide himself backwards. Not quite flying, but soon.

TAKING IT DAY BY DAY

June 9, 2010 - Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine reports: Things were pretty quiet in the nest today. With this morning's rain and the cool weather the chicks didn't do much more than eat, sleep and stretch. When they were awake they could be seen exercising and pulling out their fluffy down. A few times Peter combined preening and exercising when his down feathers stuck to his beak. All four are looking browner every day, as can be seen in the image at left, taken at 09:30 today. Chedoke, younger by two to four days than the others, is still quite white but appears to be healthy and full of energy, especially at feedings when she's the most aggressive of the four. Joseph is getting more comfortable up on the ledge with his brother. Henderson made some attempts to get up today but couldn't quite make it. Tonight they're going to bed on full tummies, having been fed just after 19:00 and again at 20:00.

GAINING CONFIDENCE

June 8, 2010 - HCPP welcomes 2010 Falconwatch Coordinator Brad Asseltine. Brad reports: It was another beautiful day in downtown Hamilton. The chicks are currently exchanging their cute fluffy down for brownish flight feathers. All seem to be healthy and were eager to eat when offered food. During a feeding at 18:40 Joseph made his first jump up onto the ledge. That makes it Peter, Henderson and Joseph who have been on the ledge. Come on Chedoke! (We can tell the chicks apart easily this year because each one has a different coloured piece of plastic tape on its metal number band.)

Having gained a little confidence, Joseph hopped up to met Madame X at the next feeding, which took place at 19:22, and tried to take the entire bird from her. After a little tug of war, and nail biting on my part, Joseph lost his grip and fell back into the nest. He then popped up for a third time and helped himself to the food while Madame X fed the others. Peter also spent time on the ledge (that's him in the image at left, taken at 10:30) and all four chicks could be seen practicing their hops and wing flapping throughout the day. Three up and one to go!

LOOKING FOR NOAH

June 7, 2010 - The Hamilton area has had more rain in the immediate pre- and post-falcon banding period than any of the Falconwatchers can remember in all 16 years the Peregrines have been at the Sheraton Hamilton. In the photo at left, taken Saturday afternoon, Henderson (BIG yellow feet) was on the ledge, possibly looking for Noah to come by with the Ark and offer help.

Falcon feedings are being carefully monitored to gauge not only how much food is being brought to the nest, but also how much each individual chick is getting right in its mouth. We are grateful once again to our Technowhiz, Charles, for setting up the webcam so we can see what is happening, and at ten second intervals! Stay tuned - here they grow!

We are also keeping a close eye on the electronics, which have occasionally caused the image to get 'stuck', and will try to make sure that pictures continue to be available. New equipment which we hope will eliminate problems is being installed.

GETTING DARKER

June 5, 2010 - Several Falconviewers have commented on the low weights of all this years' chicks compared to weights in other years and at other sites. At banding the low weights and apparently small amount of fungal disease present in their mouths were evaluated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. They were deemed not of enough concern to warrant any action other than returning the chicks to the nest. The OMNR, which is the controlling authority for all matters concerning these birds, has asked HCPP/Falconwatch to continue to monitor their progress. The picture at left, taken just before 09:00 today, shows Madame X and the four chicks during another feeding. As expected, they are showing considerably more dark feathering than on banding day. After another night of heavy rains the youngsters do not seem to be any the worse for wear, but Monday's forecast offers hope for better conditions. Stay tuned!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY! - NEWS ABOUT DUNCAN (2008)

June 3, 2010 - Despite a record one-day rainfall yesterday, the chicks seem to be doing well, although we are concerned about the smallest one. At 10:20 this morning one of the chicks, probably Henderson, was flapping its wings, a first for the year(or at least the first caught by the webcam).

Overnight we learned that Duncan, a male Peregrine hatched at the Sheraton Hamilton in 2008, has been found sharing a nest with an unbanded female on one of the bridges over the Niagara River at Grand Island, New York, near Buffalo and not very far from us as the Peregrine flies. Duncan was named after the late Bruce Duncan, former head of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, who from 1995 until his untimely passing in 2006 banded most of the Sheraton chicks and acted as the HCPP's Peregrine resource person. We are very glad to see that his spirit is carrying on.

WHAT A DAY!!!

June 1, 2010 Afternoon - After a heavy rain storm overnight, Banding Day 2010 turned into a warm blue-sky morning. Veteran climber John Millar coached Chris Phinney in his first descent to the Sheraton Hamilton Peregrine nest ledge. Madame X was her usual vocal self, making many close passes and actually clipping Chris a couple of times. The chicks were placed in a specially built four-compartment container, raised up and brought inside the Sheraton where biologists weighed them and affixed numbered metal and character coded plastic bands. Blood samples taken from two of the chicks will be analyzed for contaminants. The four are generally in good condition, although there is a concern about the smallest one. Our prediction of three females and one male has been reversed - the extra white fluff fooled us.

In keeping with HCPP practice the four youngsters were named after historic Hamilton sites, this year four of our oldest hospitals - St. Joseph's, Chedoke, St. Peter's and Henderson. Meet the new 2010 Sheraton Hamilton Peregrines!

Joseph (492 g, male, blue feet, some yellow): The Sisters of St. Joseph came to Hamilton in 1852 to care for orphaned children. During the cholera epidemic among immigrants in 1854, they nursed the sick in make-shift sheds. For the next 30 years, they built a reputation for caring for the ill and homeless poor. With bequests they opened a small hospital in 1890. New wings and a school of nursing were added and by 1947 the hospital occupied most of a city block. With further major expansions and conversion of the nurses residence, today it is a 430-bed teaching hospital with a 30-bed chronic care unit.

Chedoke (518g, female, blue feet): Founded in 1906 the Mountain Sanatorium - the fourth in Canada - provided care for tuberculosis patients from Hamilton and the surrounding communities. With the advent of effective drug therapy in the 1940s the need for years of bed rest came gradually to an end. In 1961, with a changed mandate, it became a general hospital called the Chedoke General and Children's Hospital. After several name and functionality changes it is now known as Chedoke Hospital of Hamilton Health Sciences.

Peter (525g, male, blue feet): St. Peter's Infirmary was founded in 1890 with room for 14 patients. Recognized as a hospital under the Public Hospital Acts in 1931, by the 1970s St. Peter's had grown to accommodate 284 mainly geriatric patients. Presently part of the St. Peter's Health System, the hospital now specializes in the care of adults of all ages with chronic illness.

Henderson (746g, female, yellow feet): With wounded soldiers returning from World War I it was decided to build a convalescent hospital on the escarpment. The first building of the Mount Hamilton Hospital, opened in April 1917, was a 100-bed veterans' unit. A maternity hospital built in 1932 sat empty until 1938 because of lack of funds during the Depression. In 1954 the 322-bed Nora-Frances Henderson Convalescent Hospital, built on the same site, was named after the first woman in Canada elected to a city Board of Control. In 1965 the two adjacent hospitals were linked together and renamed the Henderson General Hospital; today it is part of Hamilton Health Sciences. Sadly, the Henderson name will soon disappear. Instead of choosing a joint name to recognize the addition of a newly built world-class cancer research centre, the hospital will be renamed after the latter only.

COMPANY COMING!

June 1, 2010 - If around 09:30-10:00 this morning you see a pair of feet in the webcam picture, don't worry! Weather permitting - the current rain is supposed to clear the area shortly - a climber will be descending from the roof of the Sheraton to the nest ledge. The chicks will be placed in a special 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 at 19:30 last eveinig, Madame X can be seen feeding the chicks - one of them is standing on the ledge at her left shoulder - and perhaps filling them all in on what is going to happen. The dark line on the right hand chick's side is its dark juvenile flight feathers clearly starting to show.

HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

May 31, 2010 - The image at left, taken yesterday around 20:00, shows the relative sizes of the chicks. The smallest one, at near right, is most likely male, and the other three female. The adults have - obviously - been feeding them well. Over the weekend both adults also spent a lot of time in the nest ledge shading the youngsters from the sun as temperatures went into the low 30s°C. The effect of the heat could also be seen from the adults' open mouths, caused by panting. This is how Peregrines and other birds cool down in hot weather.

HELLO WORLD!

May 29, 2010 - One of the young falcons has grown to a height that allows a bit of a view over the top of the nest ledge to the larger world beyond, as can be seen in this image taken at 14:33 Friday. Madame X, behind the chick, seems to be admiring the final product of this week's weeding exercise. It's almost as though they took the weed out in preparation for Tuesday's banding!

We are having electronic trouble which sometimes results in the image getting 'stuck'. Please bear with us as we try to sort it out.

FALCONS 1; WEED 0

May 26, 2010 - Falconviewers watching yesterday would have seen a lot of activity in the nest, with all four youngsters and both adults marching through the weed to the east end of the ledge. At one point - image at left - Madame X took a strand of the weed and bent it over. The traffic resulted in the much-diminished weed seen in the image below left, taken at 06:02 today.

BANDING DATE changed - please note that the chicks will be banded on the morning of Tuesday, June 1. The climber will be visible on the webcam as he sends the chicks for banding and puts them back in the ledge. Judging from the birds' sizes in the image at left, it appears that he may be handling three females and one male.

WHERE'S MADAME X???

May 23, 2010 - Falconviewers have asked why Madame X isn't in the nest as much as she used to be, and isn't it dangerous to leave the chicks alone so much? The image at left, taken last evening, shows two of the quickly growing youngsters and answers part of the question. There simply isn't as much room as there used to be. (The weed doesn't play a part in this; it is actually about three feet from the corner where the birds spend most of their time.) Although it may appear that way, the little ones aren't being left alone either. Once they get to this size Madame X spends a lot of her time perched on top of the web camera just above the nest, occasionally contributing to the wiggling of the camera when landing or taking off. When X goes off for a bit of R&R, Surge is always perched on a nearby building. It is very unusual for both adults to be away from the nest simultaneously. Keep watching as the chicks grow!

WHERE'S WALDO???

May 21, 2010 - Even without the weed, it is not easy to find a webcam picture clearly showing four individual chicks. Going through the thousands of images can be a bit mind-numbing, so finding that good image becomes the falcon equivalent of 'Where's Waldo'. In the image at left, taken Wednesday afternoon, all six of the birds - Ma, Pa and the four youngsters - are present. Really! It appears that Surge (back to camera) has just brought food and is helping distribute it.

As you can see, at least one of the chicks' heads is more than half way up to Madame X's shoulder. If you think about it, the growth rate of baby Peregrines is amazing. On average, it takes a human about 15-16 years to reach full adult size. Peregrines do this is about 10 WEEKS! Banding, now scheduled for June 1, takes place when the chicks are about four weeks old and about one-third full size. When they fledge, five to six weeks later, they are as big as they will ever be. Stay tuned and watch them grow!

GROWING!!

May 12, 2010 - At 17:02 today the adults were out of the nest ledge briefly and our webcam caught the image at left. If you look closely you can clearly see four separate falcon-chick noggins. The largest chick seems to be saying, "All right you guys, listen up." We were tempted to say that they are growing like bad weeds, but refrained because of the errant piece of vegetation sharing the nest ledge. Keep watching to see these little guys grow every day.

FOUR ON THE FLOOR ONCE MORE!!

May 10, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: At 12:18 today Madame X and Surge completed what has become an annual Mother's Day Weekend ritual - successful hatching of four apparently healthy chicks. In the image at left, taken at 14:37 this afternoon, it looks like X and Surge (back to the camera) are congratulating each other on a job well done, so far. In the background, although not totally discernable as separate individuals, are the four chicks. Congratulations, Ma and Pa!

Now the fun begins. Banding will be in about 3-4 weeks - watch how these little ones grow in that time. Stay Tuned!

THREE!!

May 8, 2010 - At 14:25 today Surge brought in some food and Madame X stepped onto the upper ledge, providing a clear look at three fluffy white chicks, as seen in the image at left. Yesterday's high winds seem to have bent the weed a bit to the south, providing a better view of the nest corner, and we hope that it will not move back. Getting ready for Number Four - stay tuned!!

SECOND CHICK!!

May 7, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Just before 14:00 today Madame X stepped onto the upper ledge, providing a clear look at two white fluffballs. Seconds later Surge came in with lunch and proceeded to feed the chicks while herself watched, as can be seen in the image at left. Two more chicks to come - we hope - and warmer weather after the rain and winds clear out tomorrow. Stay tuned!!

FIRST CHICK OF 2010!!!!!

May 6, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: The long wait IS over for Madame X and Surge. The image at left, taken at 10:02 this morning, clearly shows the first young Peregrine of 2010 in the Sheraton Hamilton nest. As of noon the presence of the chick and the three remaining eggs was confirmed by telescope. This is one year to the day, and almost to the minute, of the first chick's appearance last year. We are on our way!!!

DOWN TO THE WIRE

May 5, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Today Madame X took full charge of the eggs, her usual style when it gets this close to hatching. It's disappointing not to be able to follow as closely from our home computers as we usually do. I sure hope the chicks will be as hardy as the bloomin' weed. Once the chicks hatch and get moving around they should trample the weed down, giving us a better view.

Even through the weed I could see that Madame X was restless this morning. She sat tight all afternoon with her back towards the camera and me, so even from the Stelco Tower I didn't get a look under her. She may have been restless because she heard 'pipping' and perhaps also because the wind was strong and gusty. Despite the shelter of the scrape, her feathers were being well ruffled by the wind. Surge visited the nest ledge every hour or so and had a little 'chat' with Madame X, but she didn't budge. Surge would make a few passes by the nest and return to his nearby sentry post. At one point three passing turkey vultures drew his attention and there was nothing mild mannered about the reception he gave them. Madame X didn't leave the eggs, but she finally turned around so that I at least had a glimpse of the front two eggs while she was 'jiggling and squiggling'. We are getting close!

STILL FOUR EGGS

May 4, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: I had a clear view of four eggs this afternoon when Madame X left the nest to chase away, you guessed it, another Peregrine. A third falcon was in the neighbourhood again. I wasn't sure if the outsider was a juvenile but its behaviour and its interactions with the adults were the same as with the juvenile a few weeks back. The stranger flies around after Surge in a non aggressive way and when he lands the bird tries to land close to him. Surge flies off, flushing the intruder into the air and gives chase, but doesn't attack. Madame X joins in, Surge retreats to tend the eggs and Madame X chases the intruder out of the area. Knowing the extent of injuries that adult Peregrines can inflict on one another and on precocious juveniles in a territorial rivalry, I have to say that the adults are being uncharacteristically mild mannered.

HURRY UP AND WAIT

May 3, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: As hatching time gets near Madame X and Surge are sticking pretty close to the Sheraton. This afternoon Surge took a short detour to dissuade a hawk from its flight path through Peregrine air space, but wasn't bothered by a crow flying over the Sheraton. In early days of Falconwatch crows were more plentiful downtown and Percy, the first male to nest here, was so intolerant of them, that Falconwatchers still make Percy jokes when we spot a crow. I haven't seen the juvenile peregrine around recently and expect it was persuaded to move along.

Madame X and Surge won't be the only ones sticking close to the nest. I am grateful to have a weed free view from the Stelco Tower and will keep close watch for hatching chicks. Stay tuned.

QUIET SKIES

April 23, 2010 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: The skies were quiet downtown this afternoon; just a few gulls squabbling over food. I arrived just in time to see a shift change as Surge replaced Madame X on the nest. The last time I saw the juvenile Peregrine was several days ago when Madame X chased the bird out of view to the south east above the escarpment. Having seen the adult peregrines defend their territory against other birds many times before, I couldn't help but notice that the adults are being gently persuasive to get this bird to leave. They don't appear to be striking the bird but are definitely giving chase to give it the message. There was no sign of the intruder while I was watching today.

HCPP helped celebrate Earth Day at Ecofest held at the Royal Botanical Gardens earlier this week. It was a pleasure to meet students and teachers from Queensdale, Beasley, Queen Mary, Millgrove, Queen's Rangers and Corpus Christi schools.

ALL QUIET ON THE SHERATON FRONT - THAT PESKY WEED!

April 17, 2010 - There hasn't been much action since our last update a week ago, unless of course you consider our weed's growth to be a form of action. Every year since this ugly piece of vegetation first appeared we have tried to remove it but, as you can see, so far without success. We even tried once in the middle of winter using a long tree pruner and a metal wire snare, but no joy. There's not much we can do until Banding Day, except to hope that our view of the eggs will not be completely impeded. 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 image at left shows Surge when he stopped in for a brief visit with Madame X around 9:40 this morning. 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.

Our thanks to the Sheraton Hamilton for putting off needed repairs to the sign at the King Street roof edge. Having workmen up there at this critical time in the breeding process could have been very dangerous for the birds and the workers, so the job has been postponed until after the chicks fledge.


FOUR ON THE FLOOR!

April 10, 2010 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Once again Madame X has laid four eggs in the Sheraton Hamilton nest. The wet and cold weather has kept her very close to the scrape all week, and it was cold and windy up there again today, but at 13:35 she left the nest and let us have a good look the four big brown bruisers in the image at left! What pulled her off the nest was the need to chase the juvenile Peregrine, who is still hanging around. Surge had visited the nest just before Madame X departed but he must have stayed close by. When she took off after the youngster, he appeared out of nowhere to tend the eggs. This is the second time we have seen her leave the nest to pursue the stranger. Then, obviously pumped full of adrenaline, and just because she could, Madame X knocked the stuffings out of a passing Turkey Vulture. We have had a lot of TVs through the downtown the last few days but they have not gotten a rise out of our birds until today. When MX was chasing the immature I had a sense of them being similar in size, so the visitor could be a female?


THREE DOWN! AND NEWS OF 2009's DURAND

April 7, 2010 - The Easter weekend's nice weather has given way to several days of rain and showers, so Madame X is spending a lot of time hunkered down. On Sunday morning we were able to spot three eggs in the scrape. (See blurry image at left, taken at 11:05 Sunday.) Whether or not a fourth egg has appeared since then is not known at the moment.

Last week we reported that a juvenile Peregrine Falcon keeps dropping in to the Sheraton/Stelco area. We suspect that it is one of last year's birds, but so far have not been able to confirm identification. While this has been going on in Hamilton, however, Falconwatchers in Cleveland, Ohio have also had a juvenile Peregrine drop into their site on a bridge over the Cuyahoga River, which runs through the city. The intruding bird has been identified as our very own Durand, fledged from the Sheraton nest last summer. What is it about our birds and bridges?


TWO EGGS AND A HELPER (MAYBE?)

April 2, 2010 - Around noon yesterday we were able to see that Madame X is now incubating two eggs. Although the time spread between the first and second egg has been longer than normal, this may only indicate the change in the weather. Madame X and Surge are not used to balmy temperatures in late March and early April! The photo at left clearly shows Madame X and the two eggs at 12:11 yesterday. While the adults' shadows may block the camera's view of the eggs, they are easily visible by telescope from the Stelco Tower when the adult moves away from the scrape (which seems even deeper this year than last). We can also report that a juvenile Peregrine Falcon keeps dropping in, landing on various buildings and hanging around until Surge chases him/her off. Is this one of last year's chicks come back to help Mom and Dad? (This is known to happen with Crows.) Stay tuned!


WAY TO GO X - RIGHT ON SCHEDULE!

March 29, 2010 - For the sixteenth year in a row Peregrine Falcons have laid an egg in the Sheraton Hamilton nest. Thanks to an alert from our friends at the Virgin Mobile counter in Jackson Square, which is just a few feet from our TV monitor, we have been able to confirm that around 10:30 this morning Madame X deposited what we hope is the first of several eggs of the 2010 season. This is a year to the day after the first egg appeared last year. Stay tured! If all goes well the next egg will arrive in 24-36 hours. The photo at left shows Madame X at 12:45 today. Unfortunately her shadow is blocking the camera's view of the egg, but it was easily visible by telescope from the Stelco Tower.


JACKSON SQUARE TV MONITOR UP - LOTS OF NEST ACTIVITY

March 25, 2010 - Madame X and Surge are spending much more time in the nest area and on the ledge. They are making sure things are ready for egg-laying, which should start in the next week. In the picture at left, taken yesterday at 13:04, Surge has brought a catch to the ledge and Madame X is about to take off with it for a private lunch. In addition to the on-line web pictures, as of this morning Falconwatch's Jackson Square Mall television monitor and information station is up and running. It is located in the front aisle of the mall 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 once again sharing their booth with our monitor.


WE - AND THE FALCONS - ARE BACK!!!!!!

March 21, 2010 - As Falconwatch starts each season, one of our tasks is to confirm the identity of the adult Peregrines. While it is relatively easy to distinguish between larger females and smaller males, it is not always as easy to tell individual birds apart. Three times in the history of the Sheraton Hamilton nest site an adult has been replaced by another of the same gender without any fuss to signal to Falconwatchers that a change has occurred. For this reason each year we try to confirm identities by getting a good look at the bands on the legs of the adult falcons. We are pleased to advise that, as of yesterday afternoon, we can confirm the presence once again of Madame X and Surge. Falconwatch 2010 has begun. Stay tuned!

March 17, 2010 - No, our falcons are not Irish, but we certainly wish them the luck of those fine folk as they - the birds that is - get ready for another season at the Sheraton Hamilton. As you can see at left, our Falconcam is up and running after its winter hibernation. If you check the pictures every so often you should see Madame X and/or Surge alighting on the nest ledge, digging around in the scrape, or possibly even doing what is necessary to fertilize eggs. If you see two birds, the larger is Madame X.


HAPPY NEW YEAR FalconFans

March 3, 2010 - While 2010 is already a couple of months old, the biological new year - Spring - is just around the corner. Madame X and Surge again spent the winter in their familiar haunts in downtown Hamilton. HCPP volunteers frequently see the pair on the Standard Life Building next door to the Sheraton nest site. Madame X is back for her tenth year and Surge for his fifth season.

As the days grow longer and the breeding season approaches, the peregrines' territorial instincts are on the rise, making them more ready to defend their turf from potential intruders. Local construction cranes and Red-tailed Hawks have already been warned. We are on the lookout for courting and nesting behaviour and expect to see eggs in late March or early April. The falcon camera will be activated in the next few weeks, once we get telephone lines and computer communications set up.

In 2009 Madame X and Surge hatched four chicks, Dixon (m), Durand (f), Gleig (f) and Strathcona (f). Although there were two rescues during the fledging period, all four chicks fledged successfully. 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 the sixteenth year the same nest site on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel has been used.

To read FalconWatch Reports from previous years, click on the History button above.

Thank you to all our visitors and supporters for your ongoing encouragement.

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