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WRAPPING UP FOR THIS SEASON

Friday, July 8, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Friday eveing was the last official Falconwatch session for this season, although I'm sure anyone who's been involved will be looking up whenever they pass through the area just to see what the falcons are up to. Gore, Thomson and Pigott are all doing very well! Volunteers enjoyed watching Pigott capture a pigeon dropped in mid-air by Madame X early in the day. This is the first time we've seen her do this, and she managed it with trouble at all. Late in the afternoon the boys engaged in a game of pigeon tug-of-war. One of them snuck up behind the other, who was carrying a pigeon, and tried to steal the bird from him! Both were locked together with the pigeon in both sets of talons for a few seconds! We're not sure which one ended up with the prey, but he sure didn't show any interest in sharing when he finally go to a rooftop to eat it! Our three youngsters will continue to gain their independence over the next few weeks. If we happen to catch them doing anything interesting, we'll be sure to post it here! Thanks again everyone, we had a great time! Thanks to everyone who helped out and supported us during this season's Falconwatch!

Thursday July 7, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Today proved to all of us who were on site at Falconwatch that Pigott is almost at the same stage as her brothers Thomson and Gore. From early morning she was able to take off and be out sight, then suddenly show up with flying skills that looked equal to the adults or her siblings. She showed this in many ways, swooping down endlessly towards groups of pigeons, making them scatter and panic. She took more dives at potential meals than her brothers did today! She also showed mantling and defensive behaviours that the boys had learned earlier. At one point, when one of her brothers decided to lie down, she came over and booted him back into activity.

Active was definitely the word of the day for Pigott. After numerous different landings she finally settled out of the afternoon sun on a hard to see spot on the Effort Trust building at Catherine and Main Streets. Once the sun was less harsh she took off and was seen especially when the adults were around with food. It has become very difficult for Falonwatchers to keep any of the youngsrters in sight for very long. Pigott has shown herself to be a superb flyer and lander, travelling between the Fairclough building in the west and the Landmark Place in the east. The adults stayed away from their adventurous no-longer chicks most of the time, but they did deliver more meals than usual to all three of them. For Falconwatchers the action never stopped. At the end of the evening all three youngsters settled down in the general area of the Stelco Tower. It is only a matter of time before Pigott finishes her training.

Falconwatch volunteers are still raising funds for the 2011 season. While Falconwatch does not cost tons of money, there are expenses to be covered. If you would like to help Falconwatch 2011 by making a tax deductible donation, please click on the 'Make a Donation' link above. Thank you.

STEADY AS SHE GOES

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Falconwatch volunteers enjoyed a beautiful day watching our falcon family. Pigott impressed us again. She could have easily been set back by her time away, but is flying with strength and determination. She also appears to be re-bonding quite well with her siblings, and has interacted directly with everyone now. Pigott was observed picking at a prey item one of the adults left for her late in the day, although earlier she was being fed directly by Madame X. Of course, Gore and Thomson are also doing well and are definitely giving the downtown pigeons a hard time!

AN EAST HAMILTON GIRL!

Tuesday July 5, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: After hearing about Pigott's flying when she came back last evening, our job at Falconwatch today was to keep an eye primarily on her. As the boys might encourage her to take flight again, we watched them as well when they were heading in her direction. Our concern was whether she could fly upwards! Pigott spent most of the day on a square stone structure on the south wing of the old Royal Connaught Hotel. It was clear that she is an East Hamilton girl. She was sometimes joined by a few pigeons that landed on the corner diagonally across from her, occasionally pestered by the gulls, and even by one of the males. At one point when one of her brothers decided to join her on the Connaught she vocalized, made herself larger and charged him in an attempt to be aggressive and intimidating, or perhaps she was telling him off for because he had not brought her anything to eat! In either case, she was successful and he retreated.

Although occasionally flying, it seemed that the adults and the male youngsters were conserving energy in the mid-day sun. Later, when the sun wasn't so harsh, Pigott took off after an adult. After circling and flying around she managed to get as high as the 37th floor of the Landmark Place building. Though she didn't land there, she showed Falconwatchers that gaining height was not a problem!

Later in the evening Pigott with her empty crop and the boys with their conserved energy took to the sky to give Falconwatchers a hard time. While we have eyes all around the city centre, it is very difficult to distinguish between male and female chicks when they are in the air going at full speed. Finally we had accounted for an adult and two male chicks and the possible general direction of the other adult and Pigott. With much exploring, after the sun went down the volunteers were able to put their ears to good use and managed to hear her vocalizing. With Madame X close by, Pigott was enjoying a long delayed meal on the new Court House at Hughson and Main Streets! We'll see what tomorrow brings.

PIGOTT IS BACK AND FLYING WELL!

Monday, July 4, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: At 18:00 today Pigott was returned to the roof of the Sheraton. She barely put a talon to the ground before leaping into the air. Her flight was strong and directed. Observers watched her fly from the release spot, around the north face of the Stelco tower and past Gore Park, then circle back to the CIBC towers at King and James and out of sight. After an hour of scouring the rooftops to the south and east of King and James Pigott was spotted on the Effort Trust building at Catherine and Main. She spent most of the evening on that ledge, except for a short flight to join one of her siblings in the air. She managed to get back to the rooftop afterwards, although she struggled a bit with the landing. Pigott also reacted to the adults by calling, flapping and running whenever they were nearby.

For the first time this season Falconwatch volunteers observed at close range one of the young males chasing a pigeon. We were pretty sure both Gore and Thomson have been doing this for a few days now, but have not had the opportunity to see it first hand. Tuesday will certainly be an exciting day as we monitor the progress of Pigott and enjoy the impressive flights of Gore and Thomson!

A QUIET EVENING - FOR A CHANGE!

Saturday July 2, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: It was muggy and humid, with only a very light wind, from dawn to dusk today. Although most would take the opportunity to keep cool and relax, the boys went non-stop during the morning and evening hours. With their constant vocalizing and flapping flight they were easy to spot from the time Falconwatchers arrived for both shifts. Even though they had lots of energy during these hours they managed to stay around the nest ledge area and in sight almost the time we were present.

This morning the boys spent most the the time eating mysterious food that we didn't see dropped but was in convenient places for them, possibly food stashed the night before. At one point I was able to closely observe from the Stelco Tower the two of them fighting over food on the roof of the Fairclough building. Pushing and shoving, biting and kicking, dragging and screeching were all elements of what seemed a display of both brotherly love and greediness. At this point mantling the item by extending their wings over it, a normal behaviour while eating, seems to be second nature to them, even if it meant backing off their own sibling! Later on the boys took turns intercepting an adult swooping in for a pigeon on the Robert Thomson building. When the adult caught the prey one of the youngsters came abruptly from the opposite direction and caused the adult to drop it for a moment before picking it back up. Quickly in pursuit the other one caused the adult to drop the prey, but missed catching it. The pigeon was very lucky this time around!

This evening all four Peregrines stayed within sight of each other in a small two block area on the east side of Stelco. I had yet to really experience that side of Stelco and it was amazing to see all four birds on relatively low roof buildings such as "The Right House" and the old Connaught Hotel, both of them near Gore Park. With full bellies, sometimes an adult and a youngster even settled quietly on the same rooftop. On one occasion Madame X and Surge were perched on separate but very close railings on the Connaught. I haven't seen the two adults that close together since the boys left the nest. It was a very family oriented and almost romantic end to the evening.

Morning and evening Falconwatch sessions have ended until Pigott returns. Watch this space. We will keep you posted.

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Friday July 1, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Happy Canada Day everyone! Today was one of the most beautiful days we've had for this year's Falconwatch. Although the youngsters are now covering quite a large area, we were still lucky enough to see them several times during the watch, and they are both doing very well. Although we haven't witnessed it yet, we expect the boys have been attempting to capture their own prey in the air. It's easy to forget that only a month ago these two were covered in white down and totally dependent on Madame X and Surge! They sure do grow up fast! Pictured on the left, an image taken at about 6:25 PM of both parents doing some house-keeping in the nest. There is little else to report today, but we will keep you posted as usual every morning, especially when we learn more about Pigott's recovery.

BEAUTIFUL TO WATCH!

Thursday June 30, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Gore and Thomson were in and out of view this morning, heading far to the south and east. Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports seeing one of the boys cast a pellet today. This is the normal way Peregrines get rid of indigestible parts of their food. The pair were in view for most of the evening, with only short forays to chase an adult or practice dives. A favorite perch is the tall antenna on the old Royal Connaught Hotel. With the evening sun shining on them I think this is probably the most beautiful and entertaining phase of Falconwatch. The brothers are increasingly adult in both appearance and behaviour, and are spending more time apart from one another and longer periods out of view. However they still aren't too grown up to play and explore all the rooftop cracks and crevices, especially Thomson. Gore seems to be the more staid of the two, even in the way he flies! Both boys had food from their parents this evening and all four birds were back in the home neighbourhood of the Sheraton at dusk. I hope that will soon be all five birds!

MORE PROGRESS

Wednesday June 29, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: There are no new behaviours to report today, but Gore and Thomson continue to do well. The youngsters enjoyed many well deserved meals, and one observer was directly under a mid-air food drop on King Street this afternoon. Thankfully, the youngster's catch was successful and we did not have to worry about pedestrians or cars being hit by missed food! The pair spent most of the evening on the Fairclough and Stelco buildings, slipping away only a few minutes before dark. We have heard that Pigott is still recovering from her injury, but is also doing very well.

PIGOTT ON THE MEND! BOYS ON THE MOVE!

Tuesday June 28, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Good news about Pigott. She has been responding so well to enforced inactivity that she now has a hearty appetite and has been transferred to a larger flight cage to let her start testing her wings once more. Her flights will be assessed and we hope she will be 100% recovered soon.

Gore and Thomson appeared so early this morning that the moon was still partially showing! Usually we know they are active and up to no good because they are vocalizing loudly! Today, however, they chased each other around downtown Hamilton silently, with no calling (yelling?) back and forth. It was one of those days where no matter how hard one was looking they just seemed to go out of sight for long periods. Then, as you're about to give up, they have somehow sneaked back into view and are right in front of your eyes!

The boys were favouring the escarpment area today. Whenever they disappeared it was either to the southwest or southeast. They were very hard to track, which is inevitable and to be expected given their progress in flying. Even the extremely gusty winds created by the wind tunnel effect of the buildings around Main and King Streets do not deter them. The adults were hardly seen at all today, possibly becasue tehy wer off flying with or keeping an eye on the youngsters. At one point, though, Madame X decided to land on the northeast side of the Board of Education just as I was about to grab a chair. It was great seeing her so close!

MID-AIR CATCHES!

Monday June 27, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Thomson and Gore spent most of today well beyond the eyes of Falconwatch volunteers, exploring both to the east and west of the Sheraton. One observer watched the siblings chase each other as far as the Hamilton General Hospital! When they were in sight the two boys were flying with exceptional speed and control and were mastering difficult landings, including one on the antenna of the Connaught Hotel near Gore Park. Late in the evening our volunteers watched exciting flights as the adults dropped prey for the youngsters to catch. Both Gore and Thomson successfully caught a pigeon in mid-air and, albeit with some difficulty, were able to carry the prey up to a nearby ledge where they could eat it. On several occasions during the day Thomson perched as if to say "Hi" on the window ledge of the Stelco tower floor from which volunteers watch. That's him at left looking very handsome.

ALMOST ON THEIR OWN

Sunday June 26, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Today the boys were performing chases, dives and landings well beyond what we have seen so far. Falconwatch volunteers saw action from the minute they arrived this morning when Thomson and Gore flew extremely low through the parking lot, rustling leaves and causing havoc with the songbirds. They were at eye level and almost within arm's reach! Later in the morning they were seen to follow their parents out of sight to the southeast, and even later land on an apartment building at Hess and Main Streets. They even played on top of the old Federal Building, perching on the solar panels and antennae and generally having a blast! The calm wind and hot sun created a beautiful sight later on as the youngsters rode thermals so high into the sky that they almost went out of sight. One of them went M.I.A. for a while after riding a thermal, but it wasn't long before he was found perched on the very tall and elaborate antenna structure atop the Landmark building on Main Street East.

With all these firsts taking place, when not hunting Madame X and Surge perched quietly and occasionally joined in the play. At one point, Madame X circled the boys with food and continued to do so until Surge came over and caught the meal she dropped in mid-air. With this kind of example to teach hunting skills, Gore and Thomson will soon be catching meal items in the air from their parent's talons. After a long day with lots of action they retired to their usual spots, Gore on the Stelco tower and Thomson on the nest ledge.

Thomson and Gore are flying so well that the full dawn-to-dusk Falconwatch is being put on hold until Pigott returns. She is doing well, but when she comes back it will almost be like starting over on her first flight. The Coordinators will be on at dawn and dusk for at least a few more days to keep an eye on her brothers. Stay tuned!

MORE PROGRESS

Saturday June 25, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: It is evident that even though the boys are mainly inseparable, one of them, we think Thomson, has started to take more risks as he learns to hunt. Today he was seen taking wing-tucked dives at pigeons and birds on the King Street pedestrian overpass, and again in Jackson Square Plaza. Falconwatchers reported that when he dived vertically and opened his wings at the last moment as he swooped in on the plaza, he was brushing the leaves of the trees and causing a panic among the birds that usually congregate in those areas. He hasn't made a catch yet, but he is very close to it!

Thomson and Gore enjoyed the very cool gusty winds and took to the sky in cycles throughout the day, flying together for two to five minutes each time, quietly roosting for a while to rebuild their energy, and then repeating it all over again. Between 19:00 and 21:00 they were the most active I have seen them to date, and some important benchmarks were noted. Around 19:10 they took off southwest towards the BMO Bank and Falconwatchers lost sight of them. A search from the tower revealed that they had perched on Bentley Place at Caroline and Main Streets. As they haven't visited this area before, it is clear that their flight range is now expanding! Around 20:05 Surge brought a live catch, still very much flapping, to one of the youngsters on Standard Life and let him finish the job and have a fresh meal. This is a also clear stepping stone to being a successful adult Peregrine Falcon. The boys retired to their usual overnight spots about 20:45, ending a great day.

Around 17:30 Madame X spent a good bit of time in the nest ledge. We have seen in previous years that once the chicks are away from the nest ledge most of the time, the adults return to do 'maintenance', moving stones around and so on. It is possible Madame X was also concerned about Pigott's whereabouts; we will have updates on her progress once her low activity period ends. Stay tuned!

DEFINITELY FLYING ON THIER OWN

Friday June 24, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Thomson and Gore were inseparable again today, and impressed volunteers with the power and control they had in the air. The siblings aren't catching their own prey yet, but it shouldn't be long since both were observed trailing an adult in pursuit of a pigeon this afternoon. Volunteers also observed the youngsters making very precise landings on the antennae of the Fairclough building, a first for this season. Although for a short time this morning one chick - probably Thomson the 'Explorer' - had its leg caught in some netting on top of one of the buildings, and in the afternoon a chick grazed a window while flying, they seemed to be able to keep themselves out of any real danger. Volunteers patiently await the return of Pigott who is recovering from a bruised wing, but are enjoying the watch in the meantime.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS!!

Thursday evening June 23, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Pigott spent her day in rehab awaiting her health check outcome. The word is that she has no fractures or breaks, but did receive some soft tissue damage. She is on low activity watch for the next four days, and will then be reassessed for return to the nest.

Today, with Pigott away, we watched the 'Boys' being boys. Everyone enjoyed the airshow we were seeing and noted that where one goes, the other is usually close behind. During their aerobatics both Gore and Thomson were talon touching, chasing each other and generally making a ruckus. Sometimes they were fooling around so much that they would go off course. During one particular play fight, sorry I mean "flight", one went slightly off course and seemed to just brush a window on Standard Life. This can be a normal occurrence, but falconwatchers must check to see if the chick's flight after that is altered. This bird was fine and the two continued to play. With hunting lessons coming soon, one of the boys' instincts took him into a tucked-wing dive towards the overpass on King Street after some pigeons. It was fun to watch until we realized the chick was extremely close to the traffic. Luckily, he was just trying out his skills and it never got out of hand. Otherwise, the youngsters spent most the their time on Standard Life. Madame X spent was out of sight most of the time but did make several meal drops. Surge came over a couple of times to try to convince them to fly with him. With five feedings today Gore and Thomson didn't go hungry; they both turned in early, settling down by 19:55.

PIGOTT GOES FOR ANOTHER RIDE

Thursday morning June 23, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: At 05:00 today a call from Hamilton Animal Control advised us that a Peregrine had been found sitting on a car in a parking lot at King and Bay Streets. This time the species identification was correct. On arrival we found that the car and bird - Pigott - were in the lot across the street from, but not visible from, our normal watching location. It appears that during a major thunderstorm over downtown Hamilton around 23:00 last night she was blown off the nest ledge and eventually came to ground. Pigott has been taken for examination and care. There seemed to be some evidence of bruising. An X-ray will follow to check for wing damage. It will be a few days before she returns to the Sheraton. We will keep you posted on her progress.

NO MAJOR EVENTS!!!

Wednesday June 22, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Although her siblings, Gore and Thomson, spent a lot of time chasing each other in the air and soaring high, Pigott seemed a little afraid to attempt a second flight today and spent most of her time perched by the video camera, sometimes marching back and forth on the south ledge of the Sheraton. Late in the day she did some exercising of her wings and made the short jump back into the nest. As the fog rolled in this evening the two young males retired to their usual roosts for the night, Thomson with Pigott on the nest ledge and Gore on the Stelco tower. Madame X and Surge provided many meals for their youngsters. Madame X was also observed dropping and catching food in mid-air, a demonstration of how to catch food on the wing for the benefit of her two boys who were following her closely behind.

MORE ON PIGOTT'S BIG DAY

Follow-up for Tuesday June 21, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Tuesday's events were hair raising and Falconwatchers again put in lots of extra time due to the difficult circumstances with Pigott. The team did an excellent job looking after her following her first flight and then with the rescue. There were other highlights worth mentioning as well. The male chicks spent most of their time based on the grate on top of the Stelco tower, flying around and catching thermals. They are becoming experienced fliers playing in the sky above us, a real sight to see for pedestrians passing by. The boys were vocalizing, talon touching, and chasing after each other over King Street. At one point this continued for almost five minutes! In the meantime Madame X was out hunting - right in front of our eyes on King Street!! With her skill and size she managed to capture a pigeon off the wall of Standard Life, then flew east with it. The pigeon was so big and heavy that Madame X was actually flying down King Street with it at windshield level. A volunteer and I worried for her safety and came very close to trying to stop traffic. After struggling to get out of the danger from vehicles she managed to settle on a light fixture right outside the entrance to Jackson Square. This created quite a scene for onlookers who watched as Madame X dressed the pigeon only 15 feet up. Feathers were flying everywhere! It was truly amazing for those who watched. She then delivered this meal to the boys, who flew down to meet her and enjoyed their first meal of the day on the Thomson building. Not even a half hour later Surge decided to try to hunting at street level; although a bunch of feathers went flying he just missed his meal.

One other highlight worth mentioning came around 17:30 when two gulls decided to pester Pigott on the Sheraton pool roof when the adults weren't around to chase them off. Pigott kept her eyes on the gulls diving at her and crouched and spread her wings, but stood her ground very well and didn't seem scared! Again, thanks to the volunteers and members of the public who helped make sure the birds were safe on this very busy day.

PIGOTT TAKES A RIDE AND RETURNS

Tuesday Evening June 21, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: After a relatively quiet day, at 19:00 this evening Pigott made her move, trying to get back to the nest ledge from the roof of the Sheraton pool. It was not to be. Part way up the east side of the building she ran out of steam and slipped back down to ground level on the Thomson building side and out of sight. After a hair-raising few minutes we found her - walking down the ramp of the garage under Jackson Square!!!! Fortunately we were able to do a quick rescue in a difficult space. Because Pigott had bumped the side of the buildings on her way down it was decided to take her for a check up. After a fast one hour car ride, a positive examination, another fast one hour car ride and an elevator trip to the top of the Sheraton, by 22:00 Pigott was out on the edge of the Sheraton squawking like crazy, letting everyone know she was back in town. Stay tuned!

AND PIGOTT MAKES THREE!!!

Tuesday June 21, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: At 09:14 this morning, just as I was starting my shift, Pigott decided that enough was enough and left the nest ledge, taking a strong flight across King Street and over the Art Gallery. The image at left shows her just as she was leaving the Sheraton. Escorted by one of her brothers she then came back to the Sheraton but failed to gain much height. When an attempted landing on a window ledge didn't work out, Pigott sort of skidded down the side of the building and out of sight. Senior Monitor Mike Street and I rushed to the pool deck to find Pigott looking very healthy and active - she had landed on the roof of the Sheraton's swiming pool. As of 13:00 she is still in that spot, people watching, checking out the traffic and watching her brothers as they zip by overhead. It won't be too long before she takes her second flight.

HOME ALONE - MOST OF THE TIME

Monday June 20, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: I'm hoping that everyone will be watching the website closely on Tuesday because after what we saw today, it seems very likely that Pigott may attempt her first flight. Volunteers observed Pigott frequently peering over the side of the nest ledge (left) and bobbing her head, and often flapping her wings very hard when her siblings or parents flew nearby. Gore and Thomson are now flying very well. For most of the day they perched on Standard Life and the Sheraton, making short flights with precise landings. Late this afternoon volunteers had the pleasure of watching Thomson and Gore soar well above the Stelco Tower for almost a minute and a half and then land on the very top of Stelco. Gore then made the long flight from Stelco to the north face of the BDC building and back, a flight that showed that he has both strength and endurance. Understandably, all the youngsters were worn out by the end of the day. At dusk, Thomson and Pigott were tucked away in the nest and Gore was perched safely on Stelco. Madame X and Surge provided many meals to the youngsters throughout the day and were both perched nearby when we left.

ANOTHER GREAT DAY!

Sunday Evening June 19, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Happy Father's Day to everyone. and let's not forget Surge! Being the great dad he is, Surge spent most of his day giving as many as four food catches to the chicks and settling for the leftovers. The story today was definitely the magnificent flights of both males. Thomson, like most youngsters now able to explore, used his wings and was curious about everything he came across. Around 18:00 hours he made a remarkable flight from Standard Life to the top of the grate on the Stelco roof, well over 24 floors up. From take off to landing he was in the air circling and sweeping in and out between buildings for an overall flight time of one minute. When Madame X had a catch she lured him back down. With wings tucked in and at a sharp angle, he zipped over to a perfect landing landing right next to her. He also was a good brother and retired early to the nest with Pigott (left).

After finally getting away from Fairclough and up to Standard Life, Gore spent most of his time going back and forth to the upper roof of the Sheraton. He and Thomson got up to mischief, playing and fighting over food when it came in. Gore wasn't as confident with taking off and flying as his brother, but when he did fly he showed he had what it took. He hasn't returned to the nest since leaving Friday, but before dark tonight it looked like he wanted to get back there. Finally, however, at 20:45 he flew from the Sheraton roof above the nest up to the 21st floor of Stelco, apparently for an overnight stay.

Pigott has flapped her wings, pulled out some more of her white fluff and done lots of head bobbing, but she hasn't left the nest yet. Her turn will come soon.

GORE ON STANDARD LIFE AND FED!

Sunday June 19, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Breaking News - around 09:00 Gore made a terrific flight from the 6th floor of the Stelco tower all the way west to Bay St. and all the way up to the top of the Standard Life Building. Within minutes one of the adults brought him a long-delayed meal. We now definitely have two youngsters who can make strong flights.

HOW ABOUT THAT THOMSON (EH)?

Saturday Evening June 18, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Continuing Audrey's earlier report, Thomson now knows exactly why he has wings. At roughly 15:15 he flew west from the Stelco tower towards the Sheraton and landed successfully above the Sheraton sign on the upper roof. Close observation of his flight revealed that he had the power needed, although his landing needed some work. From that point on we watched Thomson make an amazing six more flights back and forth across King Street, all of them quite a distance for a chick technically still on his first day of 'intentional' flight! He missed a couple of targeted landings in these flights but was able to recover gracefully with no trouble at all. He will be a handful to keep track of, but we are happy to see that he has really grasped the basics of flight.

Madame X and Surge made a total of four food drop offs today, two of them individual meals for Thomson and Pigott. Thomson flew over to his mother on the south east corner of the Sheraton to retrieve that meal. About an hour later Pigott received hers in the nest (left). The chicks had to dress the meals by themselves, another of the many stepping stones to becoming adults. Within the next week or two they will learn how to hunt.

What about Gore? After getting to the Stelco tower as reported earlier, Gore remained there all day. His parents tried to convince him to leave this location to escape the midday heat but it didn't work. Although he has missed many meals, he can have an empty crop for some time and will hopefully fly to a better spot or maybe even straight to the nest tomorrow. Madame X and Surge are well aware of Gore's location and will keep a close eye on him, as will our Falconwatch team. We have our fingers crossed!

THOMSON AND GORE BOTH ON STELCO!

Saturday June 18, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: One of the important moments in a chick's development is its first flight upward. At about 08:45 today Thomson left the nest ledge and flew strongly up to the 14th floor of the west side of the Stelco building, where by all reports he made a nice landing. An hour later Gore made his move, crossing back over King Street and landing on a south side 7th floor ledge on Stelco. This is good because he no longer has to hold on by his toes, and it will be much easier for the adults to feed him there. Pigott, meanwhile, is doing quite well. Earlier today she took a food drop and made it her own, letting Thomsom have a bit only after eating her fill. Since she is bigger and heavier than her brothers, we don't expect her to fly for another day or two yet.

MORE EXCITEMENT!

Friday Evening June 17, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Today was another exciting day at Falconwatch. When I arrived this morning volunteers were already tracking Gore, who had taken his first flight and was hanging out on the west side of the Standard Life Building. He made a deliberate and controlled flight to the west side of the Robert Thomson Building a little later in the morning and stayed there for a while, walking confidently back and forth along the edge of the roof, exercising his wings frequently and bobbing his head. Head bobbing is how for falcons and other birds to calculate the distance to their next perch, and is often observed before they take flight. Just before lunch Gore took a misstep and slipped a few windows down. Although he was able to straighten himself out, he did not have enough power to fly to a higher roof and landed across King Street, six floors up on the east side of the Fairclough Building. The window ledges on Fairclough are slanted and there is very little to hold on to, but Gore managed to stay up there for the rest of the day. The adults flew by a couple times to see how he was doing but did not attempt to land beside him. When Falconwatch ended at dark this evening, Gore was still safe on the ledge, asleep.

Just after 16:00 this afternoon we welcomed back Thomson, who was returning after a quick medical checkup. The youngster took very little time to get his bearings, and within minutes of being placed on the Sheraton roof was up on the parapet, where Madame X brought him food almost immediately. Around 18:00 he walked over to the TV camera area and hopped back into the nest ledge, where he spent the rest of the evening with his sister. In the image at left Thomson is hunched down a bit and Pigott is stretching, but the normal difference in size between male and female Peregrine chicks can be easily seen. Pigott, being larger and so heavier, has yet to attempt her first flight, but we are watching her closely in anticipation of it. Thanks again to all the volunteers who turned out today. We certainly needed all the help we could get and are very grateful for your contributions.

TWO AWAY - THOMSON COMING BACK

Friday June 17, 2011 - Senior Monitor Mike Street reports: At 07:37 this morning Gore left the nest ledge, possibly by accident when Pigott spread her wings and started flapping strongly, possibly on his own because Surge and Madame X had been doing a bit of a tango with food on both roofs of the Standard Life Building. That's where Gore was located a few minutes later. He quickly started exploring his new surroundings, occasionally 'pancaking' on his tummy for a rest. At last report Falconwatchers were located on Bay Street as well as in the usual spots to keep a close eye on this guy. BREAKING NEWS: 11:15 - Thomson has been given a clean bill of health and will be back at the Sheraton later this afternoon. It has been noted that his flight yesterday was exactly one year to the day of the first chick flight last year.

WHAT A DAY!!!

Thursday Evening June 16, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: THANKS to all the volunteers who helped out today! Some showed up outside of their time slot or left a lot later than their scheduled time or came in early or even when they weren't on the schedule or called family members to come and help out. We really couldn't have managed today's events without each and every one of them. Things were on the move early. Half an hour before my arrival a chick had left the ledge, possibly or even probably an accidental slip, and I had to sort out the logistics of the situation with, of course, advice from others. The lesson of the day seems to be "Never turn away from a chick that is hungry if there is food nearby". Thomson left the ledge just before the first meal of the day was delivered, and took his next flight after the second meal arrived at the nest. With the many eyes on hand (still never enough) we managed a smooth rescue. The rest of Thursday went well, with a couple angry gulls, a very unwary pigeon that became food right in front of our eyes, and a lone Turkey Vulture that got an unwelcome visit from Madame X and Surge. With a total of at least four food captures and an overall six meal drop-offs since dawn, after lots of flapping the chicks retired to bed - peacefully, thank goodness. It was a long day for all of us.

THOMSON RESCUED AND OK!

Thursday Afternoon June 16, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Early this afternoon the chick on the Thomson building tried to fly back up to the Sheraton to get some of the food that Madame X had carried past him a minute before. Try as he might, he just couldn't make it up to the nest ledge, so he turned and glided down to the Copps Coliseum plaza where we were able to rescue him. On arrival at our rehabitilation facility for a check up it was determined that: a) The chick is in very good health, lean without a lot of muscle because he hasn't flown much yet, and b) It is Thomson, not Gore as previously thought. The confusion was a result of the colour bands being smaller and not as distinctive as those used last year. The photo of the rescue at left is courtesy of Morgan Hapeman, a UPS pilot and volunteer at Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky Inc. (RROKI) who happened to be staying at the Sheraton between flights.

WHERE'D HE GO? (UPDATED)

Thursday June 16, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: As you can see from the image at left, at 08:23:16 this morning all three chicks were standing on the east end of the ledge.

Ten seconds later one of them was gone and the other two were looking down (left) to see where he went.

Just three minutes later, as Falconwatchers were becoming aware that something had happened, Surge arrived at the ledge with food. Twenty seconds later Madame X arrived on the ledge with more food. Talk about confusion!!!! In short order Thomson - not Gore as previously reported - was found walking on the edge of the lower roof of the Thomson Building, getting his bearings. At 11:00 he was still alternating explorations trips along the roof edge with little snoozes. One away! Stay tuned!

ANY MINUTE NOW!

Wednesday June 15, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: We were thankful again for beautiful falcon watching weather today. Many volunteers were on hand, making it possible to cover a large area around the nest. Two of our youngsters are now 39 days old - we have had nestlings as young as that leave the nest in previous years - so with every flap volunteers were thinking "This could be it!" None of our birds did take to the wing, although just minutes before the watch was scheduled to end one of them (left) had us thinking it might fly when it started flapping with tremendous force. We were worried he might fall off, but he managed to stay on the ledge.

With the help of the coloured tape on their aluminium bands, we were able to confirm that Gore is the youngster who has been spending the most time up on the ledge. He can often be seen perched there while his two siblings are laying down in the nest. A few times today we saw Gore nudge his siblings up as if to say "Come check this out guys". We were also able to identify Pigott, who is still wearing fluffy down pantaloons. The chicks were fed twice early in the day and three times in the evening. For most of the day the adults were not in sight, but we did get to watch them swoop down on some Turkey Vultures passing through the area. During the afternoon, Surge made a few quick visits to the nest where he would perch briefly, then zoom off. This sort of behaviour is intended to entice the young to leave the nest, or at least to demonstrate how it's done.

Thanks to all of you who were able to make it out to the Hamilton Naturalists' Club Wednesday Night Walk. We're really happy to see so many people take an interest and show their support for what we do.

ANY DAY NOW!

Tuesday June 14, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: Today brought the most beautiful weather since I started, and was my first chance to work with volunteers on shifts throughout the day. Still no first flights, although at times Gore made us think he wanted to leap off the ledge! Around the time when the youngsters should fly for the first time it is always encouraged by their parents. On numerous occasions Surge or Madame X briefly visited the nest, stirring up the youngsters and then flying away, circling and enticing the chicks to follow. I'm not sure they appreciated the frequent visits from their parents with no food in hand as they were acting quite aggressively and antsy towards the adults. This was seen a couple of times but lets face it, when youngsters don't get what they want they can throw a tantrum! The enticement will succeed within the next couple of days; I am certain the two males will be airborne by Friday.

For almost two hours during the hottest part of the day Surge hung out with the chicks in the nest, keeping them in the shade or at least making sure they were doing okay. Madame X dropped in briefly too, as can be seen in the image at left. In terms of nutrition and independence, there were three feedings today; when the last meal was simply dropped off the chicks proceeded to tear the meat away and scavenge without parental help. The youngsters are slowly proving they have what it takes to be on their own. It is great to see them progress right in front of our eyes.

ALMOST ALL BROWN!

Monday June 13, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Annika Samuelsen reports: Today was mostly overcast with a little light rain in the late afternoon. Pigott continues to progress and is now up and flapping more often on the ledge. Gore and Thomson were observed preening each other throughout the day. All three chicks spent a lot of time up on the ledge, either perched or laying flat on their bellies with legs extended backwards. They shared a medium-sized bird one of the adults dropped off at the nest mid-morning, taking turns tearing off pieces of meat with their beaks and manipulating them with their feet. Pigott still has quite a bit of down left on her head, rump and legs, while Gore and Thompson have almost completely molted into their brown juvenile plumage. The youngsters went to bed with their tummies full after Madame X delivered another medium-sized bird to the nest just before 9 PM, shown in the image at left. Note Pigott's still very white head.

This evening we welcomed some new faces at our first Falconwatch volunteer training. It was great to have everyone get together and share some of their past experiences. I'm very thankful for all the support and help we get from our volunteers and am looking forward to working with everyone.

FLYING SOON!

Sunday June 12, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: The weather was all over the place again today; none of the predicted rain, but a chilly breeze coming through most of the time. Rain or shine, cold or hot, we are eagerly watching. Sunday was again very laid back, with the main highlight being Pigott, the female chick, showing lots of progress. Although as a female she is naturally larger, she is the youngest of the three by at least a day and has more molting and shedding to do before she is ready for flight. Today she showed her true strength as she pulled morsels of the biggest meal of the day from beneath her mother's talons, proving she doesn't need Madame X to feed her all the time and showing her brothers that letting them eat everything isn't on her agenda. Pigott spent a lot more time on the ledge than yesterday, with occasional flapping which I hadn't seen a lot of from her till now. At left, Pigott looks on as Gore exercises his wings.

Between hunting and three feedings, Madame X and Surge spent most of their day in on their usual spots around the block. With help from Audrey, I was able to sort out a mix up between the pair. It is quite easy for someone new to watching these adults to get mixed up on who?s who in the sky, so I learned a lot today. I am looking forward to using the telescope in the Stelco tower as it gives quite the front row seat and will be lots of help during Falconwatch. The youngsters went to bed on time without much commotion tonight, a good thing. The count down to a first flight is on. Hope you're getting excited too!

FALCONWATCH HAS STARTED!

Saturday June 11, 2011 - Falconwatch Coordinator Alexis Jordan reports: The dawn to dusk Falconwatch started today with volunteers and Falconwatch Coordinators getting ready for one of the chicks to take their exciting and nerve wracking first flight, which is quickly approaching. Today was very interesting and intriguing as Madame X showed less attention to "dressing" and overseeing the meals brought in by Surge. "Dressing" assures that the food brought to the youngsters is mostly meat, i.e. mainly without feathers, beaks, wings and legs. Both parents are still putting food directly in the chicks' mouths, but we are now seeing some juvenile curiosity as they peck at leftovers. Overall, four meals were brought in today by both Madame X and Surge, so none of the chicks was left hungry. As can be seen in the image at left, one (most likely Gore, the oldest) spent much of his time on the ledge preparing for flight, actively running back and forth with jumps and wing flapping, and even the odd minor lift off.

Madame X, being the good Mom she is, was very selective with the chicks in terms of neediness and who didn't get as much as others in the previous feeding. It is truly phenomenal to see the amount of care that she is taking. Madame X even found time to land briefly on the "H" of the Art Gallery of Hamilton 'AGH' sign that hangs out over King Street, as if to say hello to us, before continuing on her way. We are all anxiously awaiting that first flight and were very thankful for no rain today!

GETTING UP IN THE WORLD

Tuesday June 7, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Our crew of little adventurers is getting browner and bolder every day as their white down is replaced by their characteristic golden brown juvenile plumage. They will still be wearing their white pantaloons for a while yet, but all three chicks have taken the next step in their development, getting up on the ledge. The image at left, taken last evening around 20:30, shows all three up there having a look around. 'Gore', identified from size and what appear to be flashes of his green colour band, seems particularly at ease up there now.

I am pleased to introduce this year's Coordinators, Alexis Jordan and Annika Samuelsen, who will share the job of keeping Falconwatch running smoothly. They will start keeping an eye on the birds this Thursday while setting up our annual volunteer watch, which will begin early next week. Volunteers with an interest in helping Mother Nature who can spend two to four hours at a time are still needed. Contact us at falcons@hamiltonnature.org

HELLO WORLD !

Thursday June 2, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: With help from climbers Chris Phinney and John Millar - the latter having to fend off an even more aggressive than last year Madame X (image at left) - today the three chicks were collected from the ledge and brought into the Sheraton, then weighed, gendered, banded and named. One of the chicks is visible at the lower right of the picture.

Everyone, meet Pigott, a female weighing in at a hefty 914 grams (just over two pounds for our non-metric viewers), Thomson, a male at 650 grams, and Gore, also a male at 671 grams (both around a pound and a half). All three chicks were feisty but each behaved a bit differently during the banding and photo session. The image at left shows one of the chicks just after being returned to the ledge.

Gore's name comes from that given in 1816 to the odd triangular piece of land running from Mary Street to James Street South enclosed by the north and south sides of King Street East. When George Hamilton planned his town grid, he found himself with this odd parcel of property formed by the intersection of planned streets and an aboriginal trail that ran at an angle to the grid. The parcel was nicknamed ?the gore? because it resembled a wedge-shaped piece of cloth used to adjust the form and size of a garment. A gathering place ever since, it is the site of several of the city's best known monuments, including the famous fountain.

The Pigott Building, the first steel-skeleton skyscraper in Hamilton and one of the first in Canada, was constructed in 1929 at a cost of $1,000,000. Named after the prominent Hamilton family whose construction company erected it, the building served as office space for almost 70 years before being converted to condos in the late 1990s. It?s roof once housed searchlights which revolved every 30 seconds. It now hosts perambulating peregrines often carrying pigeons who would rather be elsewhere.

The Robert Thomson Building is situated in Jackson Square between the Sheraton Hotel and Stelco Tower. It was named in honour of Robert Thomson who was with the Standard Life Assurance Company for 50 years, retiring as an executive director. The dedication of this building recognizes Mr. Thomson?s long standing interest in, and contributions to, Hamilton. The roof of this building is a favourite haunt of the young peregrines.

More banding photos will be available on the Gallery page as soon as we can get them ready. Stay tuned! With at least one chick already seen on top of the ledge, the real fun is about to begin!

COMPANY COMING!

Around 9am this morning the chicks are going to get a visitor and go for a little trip. About an hour later, after being weighed, gendered, banded and named, they will be returned to the nest ledge. Madame X and Surge will make their displeasure known, and will be right there to check on the little ones as soon as the climber clears the nest. It may be necessary to turn one of the cameras away for a while to allow the climber to get back to the lower Sheraton roof, but the second camera will be operating throughout the operation. We will update the page with names and details as soon as possible.

A BIG WEEK FOR THE CHICKS

Monday May 30, 2011 - Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: The chicks have reached that toddler stage where they make the transition from shuffling around on their haunches to walking upright on those oversize feet. Not the easiest thing to get the hang of. We can see the lines of coloured feathers starting to grow in, especially when they stretch their wings. The standing up and flapping combo is still pretty tricky...often resulting in a beak plant, but they are getting the knack. As their feathers grow in the chicks will spend more and more time on all important preening, grooming and tending to their feathers. They sleep an awful lot but never miss a meal, as you can see in the image at left. I couldn't be happier to see such a thriving brood.

This is going to be a big week for the chicks. In addition to (finally) getting some nice, if warm, weather, on Thursday June 2 at approximately 9AM they are going to have visitors. Organized by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, a team of climbers and biologists will carry out an operation involving a descent to the nest ledge, placing the chicks in a special carrying case, raising them to the roof and inside for weighing, gendering, banding and naming. They will then be brought back to the ledge. So, if this Thursday you see a big pair of feet in the camera view or someone sitting on the ledge, it will be part of that day's activities.

OUR VERY OWN (LEGAL) GROW-OP!

Monday May 23, 2011 - Happy Victoria Day! Lead Monitor Audrey Gamble reports: At this point in the chicks' development they eat often, sleep a lot and wow... do they grow fast! I am sure I notice a difference in their size from morning to evening of the same day. Now that they are more mobile they may be able to hide from view. Remember that if they are out of range of Camera 1 you may be able to see them on Camera 2, but if they aren't visible, don't worry, they have tucked under the brick overhang to get shelter from the hot sun or from rain. They are big enough now and the weather has improved enough so that Madame X doesn't spend all her time in the nest with them, but they are definitely not 'Home alone'. Madame X spends much of her time on her guard perch atop of one of the cameras, just a few feet from the nest ledge.

It was great fun to meet so many nice students from St. Eugene, St. Francis Xavier, Spencer Valley, Lake Avenue and George R. Allan Schools during Eco Fest at the RBG Nature Centre during the past week. Keep up the good work!

THREE HEALTHY CHICKS - THOUGH SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T SEE THEM ALL...

Wednesday May 11, 2011 - Don't be worried if you can't see all three chicks the whole time. Right now they are small enough to hide under the overhang on the right side of the ledge, under the bricks. But rest assured that all three are healthy and strong. The photo at left shows nicely bulging crops on the throats of all three this monrning. A sign that they are eating well! The full picture from which this was cropped (pun intended) shows Madame X bringing them a meal. You can view it in the Favorites Gallery.

THREE MOUTHS TO FEED - NOW THE FUN BEGINS!

Monday May 9, 2011 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Sometime after 6 last evening the third egg hatched. The image at left, captured at 07:08 this morning, shows the three chicks huddled together in a typical very-early-in-the-game pose. Madame X and Surge are looking after the youngsters very well, with much TLC for the little ones from both adults and lots of food being brought in. Stay Tuned! Here they grow!

FIRST TWO CHICKS HATCHED WITHIN FOUR HOURS OF EACH OTHER!

Saturday May 7, 2011 - What an exciting day, with two chicks hatched within hours of each other. Starting yesterday afternoon Madame X began to 'fuss' over the eggs, so we knew that hatching was imminent. By this afternoon she was turning the eggs nearly constantly. Around 3pm Falcon Watchers saw the first egg start to crack, and then a second started cracking as well. At 4:32 the first chick of the 2011 season made its debut!

Madame X was kind enough to position herself so we got an excellent view. After the first chick was hatched, she was on top of the eggs most of the time, so even though we knew the second chick would be hatched soon we did not have clear confirmation until Madame X left the scrape just after 8pm, revealing the scene to the left.

We have added the best photos to the 'Favorites' photo Gallery, but for the best sense of the progress of the first hatching, we suggest that you view the entire half-hour from 4:30 to 5:00. For your convenience, here is a link directly into the Gallery for that half-hour. Gallery 05/07 4:30-4:59pm.

HATCHING SOON - JACKSON SQUARE TV MONITOR UP AND RUNNING

Friday, May 6, 2011 - Lead monitor Audrey Gamble reports: Yesterday Madame X took full charge of things, her usual style when it gets this close to hatching. At 12:30 she was very busy turning the three big brown eggs (image at left). Our new camera sure is providing some amazing pictures! Based on the timing of previous years' doings the first egg, laid on March 30, should hatch in the next three or four days. The others will follow but could be a bit delayed because they were laid a few days apart.

Thanks to Gord Faulkner (what a suitable name for a Falconwatch!) of our friends Hamilton Video and Sound we have now replaced the damaged cable that was keeping us from showing live nest video at Falconwatch's Jackson Square Mall television monitor and information station. 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.

Oh, did I mention the new flat screen TV in the window? WOW!!! Wait until you see the live webcam pictures on this. You'll want one of the same size for your home computer monitor! Stay tuned!

HALF-WAY TO HATCHING.....

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - This is the quiet time on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel nest, as the two adult Peregrines, Madame X and Surge, take turns incubating their three eggs. The eggs were laid over a six day period from March 31st to April 5th, but the adults did not begin incubating the eggs full-time until after the last one was laid. This little trick will cause the eggs to develop together and (hopefully) hatch within a few days of each other. This should happen the first week of May. The chicks will grow with amazing rapidity, and by mid-June will be taking their first flights!

A NEW LOOK FOR OUR WEBPAGE!

Monday, April 11, 2011 - A big THANKS goes to Charles Gregory, our Webmaster and Technowhiz, for developing and creating the revised top of our webpage. As you can see, we are now showing images from two cameras; No. 1 is the new unit installed in January, No. 2 from the camera location that has been in service since 1998. The combination allows us to show you a zoomed-in image of Madame X or whatever is going on locally at the time, together with a long shot view of the entire nest ledge. You can select either camera and view the images as they are uploaded.

Charles has also upgraded our Gallery page so you can switch from camera to camera and also see archived images from either. We may not have quite the pizzazz of the live Bald Eagle nest in the USA, but Madame X sure looks pretty good from here. Enjoy our site. If all goes well it will be only five weeks or so until we have chicks. We are currently setting up our new monitor and information site in the Jackson Square Mall. As soon as a broken wire is fixed, visitors to that location (opposite the Virgin Phone booth, King St. side of the mall) will be able to see live images from the new camera.

THR-EEE EGGS!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - sometime between 13:00 and 14:00 today one of the adults took a break and revealed a third egg in the nest. The photo at left, taken with our AMAZING new camera, was captured at 14:33 this afternoon. Madame X is shown having a look at the clutch just before Surge arrived to do some more incubating. Way to go guys!!!

TWO!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011 - At first light this morning, a second egg could be seen in the nest scrape. Madame X and Surge continue to take turns tending the eggs. In recent years the typical clutch has been four eggs, appearing roughly a day or so apart. So hopefully we will see a couple more eggs in the next few days!

EGG!!!!!!!

March 31, 2011 - A few seconds before noon today, Madame X laid the first egg of the 2011 nesting season! Click the "Gallery" button above and click on "2011 Webcam Favorites". You can see the egg "appear" between two photos at 11:59..... The scrape is quite deep. Sometimes only the top edge of the egg (which now seems to have a light coat of dust) is visible. A smooth curve nestled among the angular gravel.

INCREASING ACTIVITY IN THE SCRAPE....

March 28, 2011 - In the last couple of days, the amount of time that Madame X and Surge have been spending in the scrape has increased significantly. We have captured several photos of them moving gravel with their beaks. Click on the Gallery link above, and click on "Webcam Favorites" to see the best shots taken with our new camera.

In addition to better close-ups, you will see that we can now capture images of the birds roosting on other parts of the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, and on nearby buildings.

We are watching closely for the first egg, which should appear sometime within the next week!

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

February 4, 2011 - Happy New Year FalconFans!

While 2011 is already a month old, the biological new year - Spring - is just around the corner. Madame X and Surge (we think) 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 eleventh year and Surge (if it is him)for his sixth season.

In 2010 Madame X and Surge hatched four chicks, Chedoke, Joseph, Henderson and Peter - all named after Hamilton hospitals. Although there was a very public rescue during the fledging period, all four chicks fledged successfully. You can read more about their exploits in the History section.

Things have been busy in the 'off' season. Remember the weed? Well, it's gone, if not for good we expect at least for a long time. We've also installed a new TV camera to give us better pictures not only of nest ledge activity but also views of the surrounding area. In early December we heard that Peter, one of the 2010 brood, was spotted alive and well at the Leslie Street spit in Toronto. Interestingly enough, he has managed to get rid of his metal USFWS identification band during his travels.

With assistance from Mike Street of Falconwatch and Ryan Laird Iverson of the Sheraton Hamilton, Anne Yagi of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources organized a group of volunteers to replace the gravel in the Peregrine's nest ledge on November 7, 2010. This task, last done in 2002, was necessary to eliminate falcon waste that could be a source of infection for the chicks as well as providing nourishment for the large weeds which have grown in the ledge in the past few years. Our regular climbers, John Millar and Chris Phinney, repeated their banding day activities but with a twist. Instead of raising and lowering falcon chicks, they were moving heavy buckets of gravel. (Photo - Anne Yagi)

The first step was to remove the old gravel, followed by a wash down of the ledge. Then the new gravel was moved into place and spread around. In addition to Anne, John and Chris, volunteers were Lori and Devin Mills, Kendra Bishop, and Anne's daughters Katharine and Heather Yagi. During the operation, which took several hours, Madame X made several close passes but did not repeat her shirt-grabbing effort of last June. (Photo - Ryan Iverson)

The Hamilton Community Peregrine Project (HCPP), more commonly known as Falconwatch, and our partner, Hamilton Video and Sound, have installed a second video camera for use in monitoring the activities of the Sheraton Hamilton Peregrine Falcons. HVS Technician John Hosszu and Sales Representative Gord Faulkner installed the camera on 26 January 2011 with help from Ryan Laird Iverson of the Sheraton Hamilton and Falconwatch volunteers Charles Gregory, John Merriman and Mike Street. The old camera has been left in place for use as a back-up and other video requirements.(Photo - Mike Street)

Funded by a generous grant from the TD-Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Fund, the new camera is a completely up-to-date technical marvel with pan, tilt and zoom capability. It can also be operated remotely via the Internet, which will be very helpful - people will not have to go downtown - when adjustments are required. Although still in the minuses Centigrade, the weather on installation day was a lot warmer than it had been and the job went very well. Madame X came over several times to see what was going on, but since no one attempted to access the nest ledge she was not aggressive.(Photo - Mike Street)

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.

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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