Hamilton Falconwatch News
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Wednesday and Thursday, June 27 and 28, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinators Emma Ditchburn and Erica Lagios report: On Wednesday morning one chick headed north and flew quickly out of sight, only to return about 20 minutes later with food in tow. Thankfully he landed close by on the Fairclough building and I (Erica) could see that it was Beckett! He had successfully captured a Mourning Dove. Of course Tiffany and Felker wanted in on the meal, but Beckett was keeping this catch all to himself. This evening the whole family made themselves pretty scarce, but I would occasionally spot them back on the Sheraton and Standard Life buildings. It was a joy to watch one of the chicks effortlessly soar over downtown with the setting sun as the backdrop.

Tiffany, Felker and Beckett were very active Thursday. I (Emma) found them in some new places. Once they were eating with an adult on an apartment building south west of BMO. All three boys spent the evening doing circles over my head, travelling between Fairclough and Stelco. It was quite comedic to see them all try to land on the same aerial at the same time, taking turns kicking each other off and getting back in the air. Before nightfall all three chicks were accounted for.

Erica concludes: Thursday evening was the last official Falconwatch session for this season. It’s amazing to think that just a few short weeks ago we were banding downy chicks, and now Tiffany, Beckett and Felker are superb fliers and formidable hunters. We would like to send our thanks to the Lead and Senior Monitors and all the amazing Falconwatch volunteers who put in so many dedicated hours this year. Thanks to your efforts three more Peregrines are well on their way to independence and are soaring through the skies!

The on-street volunteer Falconwatch has wound down for this year. The young birds are all doing well and are spending more and more time away from the downtown core. A big THANK YOU from Falconwatch to all the volunteers who helped out. See you again next year.

Falconwatch volunteers continue to raise funds for the 2012 season. While Falconwatch does not cost tons of money, there are expenses to be covered. If you would like to help Falconwatch 2012 by making a tax deductible donation, please click on the 'Make a Donation' link above. Thank you.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: Early this morning the chicks were kind enough to appear on a corner of Standard Life just after I arrived; after that they spent lots of time hiding on me! At 06:46 there was a food drop on the upper Sheraton and the brothers all took turns getting fed. At 18:00 I got a nice view of all three fledglings just outside the west window of the Stelco tower. At 18:54 there was another food drop, this time on the Thompson building - Surge bringing food to two of the youngsters while one was pancaked on the south roof of Standard Life. One of the birds on Thompson monopolized the meal while his brother looked on. With the feeding happening so close to the tower and the sunlight just right, I got an excellent view. Eventually the patient second chick got his turn and finally Surge ate what was left. After that all the boys returned to Standard Life and Sheraton. All three chicks were accounted for at the end of the evening and I had a nice surprise visit from some Falconwatch volunteers who kept me company at the end of the evening. The image at left is a closeup of Felker taken Monday.


Monday, June 25, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: Tiffany, Beckett and Felker continue to show off their strong flight skills, soaring and playing tag over downtown Hamilton. They certainly enjoy spending time together, and today they were never far from one another. When one takes off, we usually expect the other two to follow - especially when there's a flock of pigeons to pester! They also like to make their presence known, and you can often hear them just before spotting them overhead. This noisy behaviour is also helpful in distinguishing the "kids" from the adults, as our fledglings are such superb aerial acrobats that it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart from Madame X and Surge when one zooms by. Once in a while they come 'home' for a bit, as in the picture at left showing two of them on top of the Standard Life sign logo.


Sunday, June 24, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: Early morning watchers reported that two of our fledglings headed toward the Bay and after they landed back on Standard Life seemed to be eating very fresh food. As no adults had been in the area, it is possible that this is the first time the youngsters have caught their own meal. The birds were fairly active this morning, flying from Standard Life to Stelco and BDC; two of them went east to the Scarfone building. Madame X spent quite a bit of time in the nest ledge doing maintenance, moving stones around in the scrape area, removing feathers and other debris, and giving us the nice view at left. Around 15:30 the three boys took a lengthy flight west of downtown, eventually coming back to Standard Life. There were plenty more flights with all three chicks in the air, sometimes joined by an adult. For the first time I saw one of the fledglings land on the construction crane near Caroline. It was a pleasure to watch them talon touching and chasing one another throughout the afternoon. One such flight ended when all three chicks landed on the north side of the upper Fairclough roof and then spent some time preening and beaking. Later there was a food drop at Fairclough and one of the boys monopolized the meal while the others waited patiently. Beckett stepped in after a while to steal what food was left.

Around 19:00 things got really exciting, with all three boys in the air chasing after an adult carrying food. They all landed on the Board of Education building where yet again one chick took control of the fresh meal - it appeared to be a large white pigeon - while his siblings looked on. The other two finally had a turn and Madame X waited patiently; several times she moved towards the food, only to be nudged off the ledge by her sons. Madame X finally managed to get control of the food at 20:15, after the boys had lost interest. There were more flights to BDC, Fairclough and Standard Life before the night was over. At the end of the day two of the young falcons were on BDC signs while both parents and a brother were on Sheraton and Standard Life. These 'kids' have grown up so fast!


Saturday, June 23, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: This past week, food drops by Madame X and Surge have not been as plentiful as when the chicks were just starting to fly. In response, the boys have typically been seen snacking on leftovers they find during the day, and counting on a big dinner being delivered in the evening. Today, however, was their lucky day as the adults came by with a pigeon for breakfast around 09:00 and lunch at 13:00. It looked like dinner was going to arrive at 18:25 when an adult landed with prey on the Convention Centre, but both the falcons and volunteers were in for a big surprise when the pigeon escaped and flew off. Senior Monitor Mike Street reports that this is only the second time in all his years with Falconwatch that he has seen the adults let prey get away from them. Not to worry. Madame X and Surge recovered from this slight embarrassment and at 19:35 all three fledglings were happily eating their dinner.

With all that energy to fuel them, it's no surprise that the trio were very active today. All three had a grand time soaring together over downtown, playing tag, and touching talons. Occasionally one would return to the nest ledge, as Felker did around 09:03 and 10:35 (left). The "kids" took advantage of the beautiful weather we had this afternoon to explore new locations from on high - and low; one stopped off briefly on the Pigott building on James Street. Many of their expeditions take them farther east and south, but they invariably end up back downtown on their favourite perches - the BDC building or Stelco tower, and as day turns to night, they like to settle in either on Standard Life or the Sheraton.


Friday, June 22, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: The young falcons were obviously feeling frisky after their Thursday evening baths, showers actually. (See additional shower time picture at left. The rain was not going to stop them from eating!) Our early Friday morning volunteers told of lots of activity by our favourite falcon fledglings. They start flying even before dawn, as can be seen in the image below left, taken at 04:54 this morning just as one of them left the nest ledge. Today the birds could be found atop buildings we haven't seen them land on thus far - the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Hamilton Convention Centre and even our home base, the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. It's likely the chicks are realizing that the low roofs of these buildings offer great vantage points for finding the birds that are soon to become their prey. While we haven't witnessed any hunting at this point, the chicks are leaving the Jackson Square area for a couple hours at a time and may be getting personal hunting lessons from Madame X and Surge during these intervals.

The BDC building remains the fledglings' favourite spot to perch. With so many structures on both the upper and lower BDC roofs it's often difficult to tell who is where and what they're up to. This results in an unintentional game of hide and seek between the youngsters and Falconwatch volunteers. Some volunteers end up getting lots of exercise - and stiff necks! - during the day as they are positioned in different places throughout the downtown area, ensuring that we haven't missed a takeoff or landing.

The trio continue to impress those on the ground with their aerobatics and long, soaring flights. In mid-afternoon all three took to the sky and had fun playing tag and touching talons. One landed on BDC while the other two remained in the air soaring higher and higher until they were not much more than dots in the sky. This incredible flight lasted for over 30 minutes! The Boys were certainly hungry when both adults zoomed over the Sheraton just after 20:00, one carrying a very large meal. When dinner arrives it's every falcon for himself and the brothers chase, tug and fight to get at the food. Eventually everyone gets a turn and they are once again the best of friends, ready to call it a night. The camera caught one of them settling in at 21:10 (left).


Thursday, June 21, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: The chicks were relatively inactive for most of the day, not surprising as it was again very hot. They spent most of the morning on BDC. At 10:20 there seemed to be a food drop over there. One chick monopolized the meal, mantling it while the other two looked on. About 15 minutes later a second chick got a chance to share. Afterward there was lots of beaking and preening. At 13:45 all five birds were on BDC - they were very kind to us today, sticking close to each other so it was easier to track them. At 14:25 two youngsters and an adult were in the air together; one chick landed on Standard Life with food, only to have the second land and take the leftover back to BDC.

We had another long, high flight of two youngsters joined occasionally by an adult. Eventually all three returned to BDC. Around 18:00, after Madame X flew in from the east to her favourite Standard Life perch, the young ones each made their way over to the upper Standard Life roof with long strong flights and good landings. At 19:30 two flew to Sheraton, one of them with food. We didn't see where this food came from; perhaps someone attempted their first hunt today? Later in the evening we had some exciting weather as storm clouds brought heavy rain and lightning. The youngsters were flying between Standard Life, BDC and Sheraton when the rain first started, but eventually all found their way to the Sheraton ledge just west of the nest. They seemed to be enjoying the rain, flapping their wings and then hanging them over the ledge to dry once it died down a bit. The picture at left shows a pretty wet Beckett on a ledge as the rain was streaming down. A nice bath before bedtime!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: The birds must have been feeling the heat as there wasn't as much activity during the day today. All three fledglings were flying over downtown when I arrived on site, but this flurry of activity didn't last for long. Tiffany and Beckett found comfy positions on the north side of BDC and Felker decided the camera arm was once again the place to be, allowing us to get the closeup picture at left. They remained in these positions through mid-day until 13:20, when Tiffany took off and began soaring over downtown before coming in for a graceful landing on one of the lightning rods on top of the Fairclough building. This is a first for our youngsters this year and shows that the birds are able to land with greater precision. Tiffany soon headed over to Stelco and settled in for another break. Just after 15:00 Tiffany and Beckett were back in the sky, playing tag and touching talons. They wowed us with these playful antics for nearly 10 minutes, after which one went to rest on Standard Life while the other, we believe it was Beckett, successfully landed on the BDC logo on the north side of that building - another milestone for our trio! The BDC sign and logo both have metal bird deterrents, which surprise unsuspecting birds and make landings tricky. Our fledgling handled this landing like a pro.

As day turned into evening the birds became more active. Felker returned to the sky at 18:27 and all three could again be seen soaring over downtown. Just after 19:00 the trio was on Standard Life. It looked like they were playing tug-of-war. We soon realized that one of the birds had found a leftover meal and all three were eager to get a piece of what was left. At this point they had not been fed for several hours and must have been pretty hungry. After this small meal they spent some quality time playing with one another on Standard Life. It looked like they may have been settling in for the night, but when an adult swooped in with food at 20:35 one of the 'kids' took off with the meal. I was thankful for all the wonderful Falconwatch volunteers on the ground as the whole Peregrine family was soon in the air. Fledglings were chasing each other, adults were being chased by fledglings, as soon as one bird landed they were off again - it was definitely an exciting time! Not long after sunset things quieted down a little and we had all five birds accounted for.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: The insider scoop, courtesy of Webmaster Charles just before dusk, is that Felker has also removed his coloured tape!! The guilty feet are shown clearly in the picture at left. Now we know why we could only see Beckett’s green tape all day!

When I arrived at 09:00 all three boys were on the southeast corner of Standard Life. By 10:00 two had flown to BDC and Fairclough. Later in the day we had all three chicks on the north side of BDC, two of them playing hide and seek while blending in quite well with the colour of the building and hiding behind pipes. This was Felker's first trip to BDC, an important milestone! Around 15:30 two chicks, likely Tiffany and Beckett, and both adults took a very long, very high flight for a full ten minutes at least, circling above the plaza behind Jackson Square and over the Stelco tower. It was an amazing sight - I could not believe how much height they were getting! The chicks then spent some time on Stelco's southwest corner; there appeared to be a food drop as feathers were flying. Felker had a bit of a shaky landing on the upper grid but managed to secure a position.

Around 19:30 the 'Three Amigos' returned to centre stage. A volunteer observed a chick hovering just above the Sheraton with food in his talons. Surge arrived with food while all three chicks were on the southeast corner of Standard Life, but he stayed on the upper ledge above them and seemed to leave with it as well. As the sun was setting all three youngsters settled in on different roosting spots on the Sheraton and both adults were on Fairclough. Felker is still a bit more timid than the others, so it's usually safe to guess which bird he is. Tiffany and Beckett are the best of friends, playing tag from building to building while Felker waits quietly, but soon enough they should all be flying high as we saw this afternoon. Stay tuned!


Monday, June 18, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: The first thing the 05:00 shift does is play "Where's Waldo?". Knowing the locations of all the chicks first thing in the morning is paramount because - birds have wings - they may well not be where they were when last night's evening shift ended. Sometimes it is easy to find them all, sometimes we get a bit nervous if one or more is unaccounted for. Things were pretty good this morning, and when all three turned up on the nest ledge for a snack at 07:43 (left) everyone - watchers and adult Peregrines both - was happy.

The trio are gaining new skills and independence every day! The vertical metal grating atop the Stelco tower that once presented them with a tricky landing is now a favourite afternoon perching site for Tiffany and Beckett. Tiffany has also discovered that the north roof of the BDC building has an excellent view and has added this location to his list of favourite perches. The fact that Tiffany can now fly from the Sheraton to BDC with ease shows that he’s gained significant strength and stamina. He’s also picked up a thing or two from Surge, likely from watching Surge’s recent flights from the Stelco tower to BDC. Tiffany used the same approach to landing on this high building - swooping down low before jetting to the top and coming in for a smooth, controlled landing. However there are some places that require more dexterity and finesse than our fledgling falcons currently possess. For instance, just after noon one of the youngsters attempted to land on one of the lightning rods on top of the Fairclough building. Madame X and Surge make this look like a piece of cake, but just as our chick was attempting to touch down, he thought better and returned to the Sheraton. Of course practice makes perfect and I know we’ll see many more attempts over the coming days as the fledglings continue to explore their surroundings.

Speaking of practice, after a rather uneventful morning spent on the nest ledge Felker - that's him on the left of the image at left - took to the sky at 15:50 and landed successfully on Standard Life. While quite a short flight, we were very happy to see Felker on the wing. Likely spying the lunch Tiffany and Beckett were enjoying on the Fairclough building, Felker then took off at 16:12 and nearly knocked Beckett over in his attempt to join them. Quickly recovering from this less-than-perfect landing, Felker circled around and on his second try landed successfully on a ledge a little south of his brothers. Content with the extent of his flight training for the moment, he took a break and enjoyed this new view. The chicks continued to fly very well during the evening. There were several games of tag with talon touching between Beckett & Tiffany, and even Tiff & Felker played tag. Although there was no talon touching and Felker was a bit slower in the game, he managed to keep up and seemed to enjoy participating, it wasn’t just a chase. Surge landed on the tip of that big construction crane and watched the chicks for a while. All three chicks went to bed on the Sheraton, Felker on the ledge just west of the nest (where he was given some food before bedtime), one on the Sheraton “h” and the third on the most westerly ledge under the “S”. All five birds were present and accounted for at bedtime.


Sunday, June 17, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: When I arrived today Felker was still perched where he had spent the night, on the uppermost window ledge of the north face of Fairclough. Tiffany was on the south west of upper Sheraton, and Beckett was on the Stelco north grid. At about 10:00, Tiffany flew over to visit Felker. At 10:45 Beckett made a huge circling flight, going south behind Fairclough and travelling over the north side of Stelco and landing on the west side. This was about a two minute flight in strong winds! At 14:45, Felker finally took flight from Fairclough, circling high above the Thompson building before landing on the south side of the Stelco upper grid.

At 18:00, Tiffany and Beckett had lots of fun flying back and forth between Sheraton and Standard Life, making large circles out over the Board of Education parking lot, and talon touching mid-air. At 18:15 all three chicks reunited on the south east corner of Standard Life, and throughout the rest of the evening slowly made their ways back to the Sheraton. At 18:54, we had all five birds in view from the tower - Beckett on Fairclough upper North West, Tiffany and Felker on the Standard Life upper roof, Surge on north west corner of Fairclough, and Madame X on the Sheraton upper ledge above the "o". At 19:23 Beckett headed back over to Standard Life, and at 19:58 one chick returns to the upper Sheraton roof, then moving down to perch on the "n". A few minutes later, one of his brothers joined him and we had two chicks sitting atop the Sheraton "n", one of them moving down to the nest ledge shortly after. Felker remained on the upper roof of Standard Life until 21:15 when he made his way over to the upper ledge of the south west Sheraton roof, Madame X was on the South East Sheraton ledge keeping an eye on everyone who returned close to the nest for bedtime.


Sunday, June 17, 2012 interim - The Coordinator's report having gone off into eSpace, this summary of Sunday's activity will do until it arrives. The day started out with Felker still on the top floor sloping window ledge of the Fairclough building where he ended up the night before. Tiffany and Beckett were flying high and strong even before dawn. When Tiff flew to the 23rd floor of the Stelco building Beckett did him one better, diving from the roof of the Sheraton toward the bottom level of Stelco before pulling up and then blasting to the top of the CIBC building at James Street. Wow! As those two continued to make the downtown skies their own, Madame X and Surge took turns visiting Felker and trying to entice him to fly. Their efforts paid off around 14:45 when he finally left his Fairclough perch and started exploring on his own. At 18:10 the three youngsters got together on top of the Standard Life building for the picture at left. Stay tuned!


Saturday, June 16, 2012 end of the day - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: After an action packed Friday I arrived at Jackson Square early today - but still not early enough to witness Felker leave the nest ledge. Not to worry, I thought, this will just be the beginning of a very exciting day for Felker. Well, exciting it was, but he didn’t have all that much to do with it, at least initially. It seems Felker decided that the distance he covered from the nest ledge to the Sheraton lower roof ledge was enough air time for one day, and he spent the rest of the daytime hours in one of two places - Madame X’s favourite roost on the southeastern support beam on the lower Sheraton roof, and the I-beam that supports camera #2. At one point he was right under the camera, giving us a "bird's eye" view of himself as can be seen at left. Taking a cue from Beckett's adventures yesterday, Felker enjoyed walking, hopping and jumping along the ledge between these two locations throughout the day. The camera beam proved to be a particularly comfortable spot as he spent quite a bit of time snoozing there around mid-day. Seeing this rather lackadaisical behaviour, one of the adults attempted to lure Felker off the Sheraton with food at 12:35 by landing just out of reach. While a valiant effort, this attempt was not enticing enough to get him to budge.

Meanwhile, Beckett and Tiffany continue to show off their new skills, making sustained flights over Jackson Square. They also enjoy spending time together, playing and nipping at each other's feathers. After playtime, a nap was definitely in order, and they spent nearly an hour between 10:30 and 11:30 snuggled together on the upper Sheraton roof. Refreshed, they again took to the skies. At 13:26 they both made an impressive flight, circling several times in tandem over Jackson Square, gaining a lot of altitude and even having some fun touching talons in mid-air. Tiffany and Beckett continue to make the majority of their flights to and from the Sheraton, with occasional brief stops on Standard Life and Fairclough, but today they made excellent flights to the very top of the Stelco tower and spent much of the afternoon enjoying the view from on high. These quick learners took off from Stelco in tandem at 17:55 and wowed all of us on the ground by soaring over Jackson Square for more than three full minutes before landing. This was by far the longest sustained flight of the season to date.

As afternoon turned into evening the chicks started to settle down, or so we thought. By 19:17 Beckett was back on the letter “h” of the Sheraton sign. Tiffany made another circle over King Street before settling onto the nest ledge at 19:42, where the camera caught him (left) a few minutes later. At this point, Felker hopped, skipped and jumped his way over to the roof ledge just east of the nest. Thinking he would attempt the short flight to the nest ledge, we were ready in case he didn’t quite make it. Boy were we surprised when at 20:09 Felker took his first official flight from the Sheraton, circling out over King Street and landing back on the upper southwest Sheraton roof! Having 'tasted the air', only a few short minutes later Felker again took off from the Sheraton, circled over King Street, and attempted to land on the northwest Fairclough roof. This attempt was unsuccessful so he circled around again and made a second. Unfortunately this landing try was also unsuccessful, and Felker ended up on a slanted window ledge on the north side of the Fairclough building. Falconwatch monitors and volunteers remained on site until 21:25 in case he attempted another flight, but when we left it looked like he'd be spending his first night away from the nest, far from this brothers. Stay tuned - the adventure continues!


Saturday, June 16, 2012 - Senior Monitor John Merriman reports: A moment after 08:39:50 this morning Felker hopped, jumped or maybe even flew the 3 or so metres from the nest ledge to the lower Sheraton parapet ledge where his brothers had so much fun last night. (See photos of Beckett just below.) The picture immediately at left shows Felker just as he was about to make his move today. The large main picture will continue to show Felker on his current perch, an 'I' beam used to support other beams during window washing operations at the Sheraton, until he makes his next move. Stay tuned!!!!


Friday, June 15, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: How exciting to return to downtown Hamilton after two days off to find that Tiffany and Beckett have made their first flights! These two are already showing significant skill and will soon be cruising effortlessly around downtown. But what about Felker you ask? He seems to enjoy having the nest to himself as he did not attempt to fly all day. Madame X and Surge circled around the nest offering lots of encouragement several times during the day, and even his brothers seemed to beckon him, peering down from their perch atop the Sheraton roof. A few times we thought Felker might take the plunge - toes curled around the nest ledge and wings at the ready as shown at left just before 19:00 - but it just doesn’t seem to be quite his time yet.

Back to Tiffany and Beckett - they are on the fast track to becoming superb flyers! Both made numerous graceful flights, taking off from the top of the Sheraton and circling over King Street, accompanied by equally graceful landings. Landing spots included the Standard Life building, the Sheraton, the very top of the Fairclough building, and different ledges of the Stelco tower. One bird (not sure who) even attempted to land on the vertical metal grating atop the Stelco tower. And if that wasn’t enough, we think Beckett was the ambitious bird that attempted a flight to the BDC building. We were all impressed when a mid-afternoon food drop at the Sheraton resulted in a tug-of-war, with one chick victoriously taking flight - with lunch in tow - to the Standard Life building. The amazing feats continued on into the evening. Just before 2000 both Tiffany and Beckett took off from the Sheraton, circled around the Board of Education parking lot, made contact in mid-air with their talons, and landed safely on the Standard Life building. At 20:04 Beckett landed on the east end of the Sheraton roof, then proceeded to walk all the way down the parapet towards and under the camera. Webmaster Charles cobbled together the three picture image at left to dramatize his walk.

After such an eventful day it’s not surprising that these two boys found a comfy roost as the sun was setting. Tiffany returned to the nest ledge - presumably to share more stories with Felker. After spending his first night out of the nest on the letter “t” of the Sheraton sign, Beckett decided the top of the “h” would make a much more suitable roost tonight. Madame X could be found keeping a watchful eye from a beam on the southeast side of the lower Sheraton roof. Will Felker make his flight over the weekend - stay tuned to find out!


Thursday, June 14, 2012 end of day - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: What an action packed day! When I arrived this morning, Tiffany was on the Fairclough building. A little while later Beckett took his first flight, circling west around the back of the Sheraton and landing nicely on the cooling tower. I was a little worried when he hopped down into the moving water, but he was quite fun to watch as he splashed around for a while before safely hopping back out. Around 10:00 both adults took food to Tiffany over on Fairclough. He spent some time eating and then, at 12:17, flew over to the Sheraton and hopped along the upper roof ledge directly above Beckett on the cooling tower. Tiff investigated all the nooks and crannies on the Sheraton upper roof before joining Beckett and also enjoying a cooling bath. Felker spent the whole day in and on the nest ledge. Our camera caught this terrific picture of him at 10:44, an hour after Beckett left.

Later in the afternoon Beckett’s second flight also took him over to Fairclough. He stayed there a while before returning to the Sheraton’s south upper roof ledge where he eventually hopped down to the top of the letter "t" of the Sheraton sign. Meanwhile, Tiff was hopping back and forth along the south ledge of the main Sheraton roof when Surge arrived with food. Felker stayed in the nest ledge and missed out on the feeding, after which Tiffany took a few short hopping flights between the ledge and the camera arm and then returned to the nest, the first 2012 chick to leave and come back.

We had more action in the air today besides our falcons. The Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds team did a fly by on their way to Hamilton Airport for the big airshow this weekend. At different times Madame X and Surge chased after an adult Bald Eagle and a Turkey Vulture. Both an American Kestrel and a Great Blue Heron flew by as well, but neither was bothered by the Peregrines.

As it grew dark, Beckett snuggled into the western curve of the Sheraton "t" and made himself comfortable, while Felker and Tiffany cozied up on the west side of the nest ledge - surely Tiff had some stories to share after his adventures since the night before. Madame X was watching from the Standard Life sign as the sun went down. Stay tuned - it shouldn't be long before Felker makes his first flight!


Thursday, June 14, 2012, 11AM - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: At 09:44 the two chicks were perched on the western edge of the ledge when suddenly, with a powerful stroke of his wings, Beckett leaped UP into the air about a falcon's height, i.e. enough to clear his brother's head, and took off to the south. After a short but quite strong flight to the very large air conditioning unit on the Sheraton roof, Beckett immediately started checking out his surroundings. Discovering the cooling water pool he promptly took a bath and then, after shaking himself off, lay down on the edge of the machinery to rest up. A special DANKE! to Falconwatcher Annette in Germany for forwarding the image at left, which for some reason did not get captured in our archive. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012 end of the day - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: There was plenty of activity in the nest early this morning, everyone was hopping in and out of the scrape, flapping, head bobbing and going back and forth along the ledge. Surge stopped by without food several times and then returned to the Standard Life building, perhaps trying to entice one of the chicks to fly over with him. Around 10:00 there was quite a flurry of flapping, but no one took off. At 10:36 Madame X came by for a feeding and the brothers were very polite, waiting in a nice orderly line as can be seen at left. Tiffany was fed first, then Felker, while Beckett - hard to see, but there just under the brickwork - patiently waited his turn. After this meal the boys seemed tuckered out and were happy to take what shade they could find; most of the afternoon was spent napping, with little activity. Madame X again joined the chicks in the nest for a couple hours and all was quiet and peaceful. As we moved into the evening there was more flapping and adventurous ledge hopping back and forth, with Tiffany and Beckett appearing the most brave.

We have now been able to confirm that Tiffany took the first flight. All three had been up on the ledge for some time when suddenly one dropped off the east side, swooped back up to circle over the Board of Education parking lot, and then went around the west side of the Standard Life building to land on the 'V' that juts out from the North side of that building. Thanks so much to Senior Monitor John who was able to locate the chick from the ground when I could not get a visual from the tower because the setting sun was right in my eyes. It wasn't long before he flew to the south side of the Standard Life building, where we followed him as he played peek-a-boo back and forth along the ledge. We were able to keep Tiffany in view until sundown, at which time he was perched on the corner that juts out just to the east of the Standard Life sign. Webmaster Charles caught the great shot at left, with the two stay-behind brothers laying down on the nest ledge and Tiffany sitting all alone on the Standard Life building in the distance. It was tough to say goodnight to him sitting alone, wondering if he wanted to return to his brothers, but I was proud to see him take his first flight without harm or incident. What a thrill! Stay tuned to see who goes next - we should have additional flights tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012 evening - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: At almost exactly 19:15 this evening the first 2012 chick to fly took to the air. Wouldn't you know it? This happened at perhaps the worst possible moment - because of the position of the setting sun - to get an image to show you. All we can see in the archive are outlines of three birds in one picture and then, 20 seconds later, there are only two birds looking down. We don't yet know which bird flew, but can tell you that he first went to the north side of the Standard Life building, then to the top roof of Standard Life, then to the lower roof just above the Standard Life sign where at 20:26 we caught the image at left. Usually when a young Peregrine takes their first flight they sort of freeze where they land for a long time. Not this guy! Stay tuned. More details as we have them. News at 11! (Just kidding - more tomorrow.)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: A cooler morning meant that the chicks were much more active. There was the usual wing flapping, jumping and running, although this morning they seemed to be playing a new game: who can terrorize the Falconwatch monitors the most. Each bird took turns running along the ledge at full force, hitting the brakes and skidding to a halt at the last second. I was sure one of them was going over the edge! In keeping with my prediction, Tiffany was again the most active and took the most turns running to the edge of the ledge. Amidst the playing, Madame X took a keen interest in some men doing maintenance work on top of the Fairclough building. Lucky Erica! Madame X decided to perch on a Stelco tower corner ledge right in front of me during this activity; what a treat to see her up close! Surge swooped in just after 1300 to drop off some lunch for his brood leading to the scene at left, caught by an alert co-Lead Monitor Audrey and enhanced by Webmaster Charles, which shows all five Peregrines in the nest ledge at the same time! Maybe it’s because Madame X and Surge are such terrific parents, or maybe the chicks aren’t as hungry as they used to be, either way leftovers are definitely accumulating in the nest (I can only imagine the smell!). The youngsters certainly don’t seem to mind as this means there’s always a snack nearby when they want one.

Once again Surge arrived just before dark to drop off a bed-time snack. Before Madame X could take over and feed her offspring, Felker and one of his brothers both grabbed for the meal and a tug-of-war ensued. Looks like the excellent manners exhibited by the birds yesterday have been all but forgotten. This type of behaviour is another important step in becoming independent.


Monday, June 11, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: After catching up with the early morning volunteers, I learned that the chicks had already been individually fed a meal by Madame X. This mom is definitely still doting on her brood. As it was another hot day in downtown Hamilton, there wasn't as much activity on the nest ledge as in previous days. While Felker and Becket spent most of the day napping, Tiffany kept up with some strength training and could be seen flapping his wings and "helicoptering" across the ledge. Is this a sign that he'll be the first to make the plunge? Madame X joined her brood during the hottest part of the day, when all sought any shade they could find. Surge made his first major appearance of the day at 16:15 when he brought another meal for the chicks. Unlike Madame X, Surge didn't stick around for an individual feed. The chicks were left to feed themselves, which they did with impeccable manners, waiting their turn and even sharing the food among themselves.

Later in the evening, Surge made a few quick visits to the nest where he would perch briefly, then take off again. This kind of behaviour is intended to entice the young to leave the nest, or at least to demonstrate how it's done. Then, at 20:45, Surge brought in a late snack. The image at left shows Surge on the ledge, Madame X arriving in the foreground to take over the feeding, and the chicks looking on at the west end of the ledge. The 'Boys' are approaching Day 42, which is the average for male chicks to take their first flight. Stay tuned!

Erica Lagios graduated with an Environmental Science and Zoology degree from the University of Toronto in 2006. She developed a love for birds and the outdoors at a young age, and since graduating, Erica has worked for non-profit organizations and universities banding birds in the Pacific Northwest, surveying for endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers in Texas, and working with the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program here in Ontario. Most of her work has taken place in remote field settings where accommodations can typically be described as “rustic”. In between field positions, she completed a post-graduate certificate in Natural Resource Planning and Management from Royal Roads University. Currently calling Burlington her home, Erica is delighted to be working with a species at risk right in her own backyard.


Sunday, June 10, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: When I arrived today the chicks were all up on the ledge, mostly laying down. Early morning watch volunteers had reported two feedings. There was some activity on the ledge later on, mostly head-bobbing for distance sighting, before it got wildly hot. For most of the afternoon the chicks were tucked under what shade they could find in the nest, and Madame X joined them there for about two hours. Around 16:30 Surge dropped off a large piece of food that one chick immediately mantled - spreading its wings to keep the others away, an important step in self-feeding. There wasn't as much daytime activity as yesterday, but as it cooled down in the evening the chicks spent more time on the ledge getting practice using their wings and building strength for their soon-to-come first flights. As you can see in the image at left, it can get crowded up there when wings are spread. Stay tuned!

Emma Ditchburn is currently completing her Honours Biology degree at McMaster. Some of her associated work included experience sampling in the field, mainly focusing on wetlands and the Hamilton Harbour. She spent summer 2011 as an intern with Environment Hamilton working on their 'Good Neighbour' and 'Moving is Not an Option' projects, both of which took place in a more 'urban' field setting. In the middle of her undergraduate studies Emma took a brief musical interlude to tour with a professional band and received a Juno nomination for best new video before returning to her passion for biology and the environment. She is thrilled at the opportunity to gain more experience in urban field monitoring and working with Peregrine Falcons.


Saturday, June 9, 2012 - Falconwatch Coordinator Emma Ditchburn reports: On my first Falconwatch day I was joined by some eager new volunteers and wonderful returnees. A rainy morning meant dampened feathers but not dampened spirits for our chicks. Tiffany was a brave one today, slip sliding along the edge. Beckett even got some 'air time', doing a hop, skip and jump along the ledge. Once the sun came out it was preening time, with lots of white down floating through the air. Madame X and Surge had a chance to cool off with a bath on the roof of the Convention Centre. After a feeding at 14:50, Madame X returned to drop off what appeared to be a carcass for the chicks to snack on later. This 'cafeteria style' of eating is the second step in food independence for our trio; it gives them practice using their feet and beaks while breaking up their own 'picnic' meals.

The brothers were seen beaking one another - a part of bonding - and pestering each other with tail-feather biting and scratching with their feet while they were 'pancaked' (image, left) on the ledge. Just when we thought they were tucked in for the night, Mom brought a surprise bedtime snack, but shortly thereafter everyone was curled in for a safe night's sleep.


Friday, June 8, 2012 evening - Falconwatch Coordinator Erica Lagios reports: When I arrived in downtown Hamilton the chicks were up on the nest ledge and very active. The windy day was great for them to practice flapping their wings, strengthening their flight muscles and getting some air under their feet, which we call 'helicoptering'. This led to many anxious moments as each chick would invariably get too close to the edge for my liking. When not practicing for their first flight, the youngsters practiced snoozing, especially during the hottest part of the day, and checked out their surroundings. At left, Felker (yellow tape) is taking a look at the people and vehicles far below on King Street. Meanwhile, Madame X and Surge were keeping a close eye on their brood, spending most of the day perched on the Sheraton or on rooftops nearby. Both adults made several agitated flights during the day, circling and swooping around the Sheraton. They may have spotted staff on the roof of the hotel and are likely still wary from the banding session on May 31.

The first meal of the day arrived around 17:30 in the afternoon and Madame X could barely feed them fast enough. This was very late in the day for a first feeding; the adults may already be controlling food intake. Just before dark Madame X arrived with another meal and, with their stomachs full, the chicks hunkered down in the nest for the night.


Friday, June 8, 2012 - The chicks are growing like the proverbial bad weeds! The image at left shows Surge watching over Tiffany and Beckett (on the right, green tape) as they had breakfast yesterday morning. Starting today the youngsters are going to have to get used to lots of humans with funny looking round things covering their eyes looking up at them from ground level. The on-site Falconwatch 2012 starts today!

Our Falconwatch Coordinators this year are Erica Lagios and Emma Ditchburn, who will alternate days working from 9AM to 9PM with our volunteers to keep a close eye on the birds. Should one of the chicks come to the ground and not be able to get back in the air on its own, Erica or Emma will coordinate the activity, either handling the bird themselves with the volunteers on hand, or calling in the Falconwatch Rescue team if things get complicated. Welcome Erica and Emma!


Thursday, June 7, 2012 - Here's what birds of other years have been up to since our last reports on them: Shown at left just after being banded recently is Venus, a female chick produced by Duncan (2008) and his mate at their nest on the Grand Island Bridge over the Niagara River. In Columbus, Ohio Durand (2009) laid three eggs but they have not hatched and are deteriorating. Maybe next year? As of April 30 Gleig (2009) and her mate had eggs in their nest at the Buffalo Central Terminal, but we have had no news since. Pigott (2011) is the second female in a complicated situation in Rochester, New York.

Back at the Sheraton Hamilton, the three chicks continue to grow quickly, with more and more dark feathers appearing almost every hour. The active Falconwatch 2012 will start tomorrow. This year's Coordinators are Erica Lagios and Emma Ditchburn, who will keep us informed daily on the youngsters' progress and activities of our Falconwatch volunteers. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - Just before 06:30 today Madame X arrived at the nest ledge with breakfast and, as can be seen at left, was quickly joined by the three chicks. Their diet is quite varied. Pigeons and doves are a mainstay but, with summer and migrant species now in the area, 'special' foods are occasionally brought in for the youngsters.

Viewers can also see how much darker the chicks' plumage has become in just a few days. What is happening is that the birds' juvenile body and flight feathers are growing in, pushing out the white downy feathers that have kept them warm since hatching. In the next ten days we will occasionally see little clouds of white coming out of the nest as the birds help with removal of the down. Soon it will be hard to find even a single white feather. Stay tuned!


Monday, June 4, 2012 - Thanks to Webmaster Charles for finding an unblurred image of the Three Amigos standing together on the upper ledge on Saturday. Once the chicks learn how to get up there it becomes a favourite place. Think of all the new sights and sounds available to them. The Niagara escarpment, downtown Hamilton, cars and trucks and buses and sirens and people - what more could a young Peregrine want? In addition to getting adventurous in this way, the not so little ones have been checking themselves out. On Thursday the metal bands of all three were covered with a coloured plastic adhesive strip to help us identify them during the fledging period. Tiffany's was red. He has already discovered AND removed it. We're going to have to keep an eye on this guy!!! Stay tuned!


Sunday, June 3, 2012 - Something Falconwatchers look for with both pleasure and dread is one or more of the chicks getting up on the metal flashing of the upper ledge for the first time. A sign of growth and ability to use their feet and wings, at the same time it means that they are more vulnerable to a mis-step or simply a strong gust of wind. Around 06:45 yesterday all three chicks got up on the ledge to take turns being fed by Madame X. The image at left shows two of them. Unfortunately the image that shows all three was blurred by a big raindrop. We will be keeping an even closer eye on the youngsters from now on!


Saturday, June 2, 2012 - After all the recent warm dry weather, coupled with a little bit of rotten egg perfume in the nest ledge, yesterday's rain must have been really welcome to the newly banded chicks. They spent much of the day in the open and, as can be seen at left, certainly seemed to enjoy being fresh and clean. All three are showing even more dark feathers. If the youngsters are in the corner of the ledge nearest the camera and looking up at it, it is likely that Madame X is sitting on top of the camera keeping an eye on things. The active dawn-to-dusk on site Falconwatch will likely begin earlier than usual, possibly as soon as next weekend, because male Peregrines' lighter weight allows them fly sooner than their sisters. Stay tuned. Here we grow!


Thursday, May 31, 2012 evening - As just about everyone knows by now, our chicks were banded today. We have three boys - Beckett (682 grams), Felker (671 grams) and Tiffany, who weighed in at a trim 641 grams. At 27 days of age for one and 26 days for the other two, all had nice solid banding weights and appeared to be in very good health. Climber Bryan Thomas, shown at left getting one of the youngsters ready for the trip up, had several close calls as Madame X defended her territory as strongly as ever. The chicks were quite calm during the weighing and banding process.

As we did in 2006, this year's chicks were named after more of Hamilton's waterfalls. Lower Beckett Falls, named after the Beckett Family who owned the surrounding lands in the early 1900s, is a 'Ribbon Cascade and Falls' whose water flows under Beckett Drive on the escarpment just east of St. Joseph's Hospital. Its flow is prominent during rainfalls and the winter snow melt. Felker's Falls, located in eastern Hamilton on Davis Creek, a branch of Red Hill Creek, is a 'Terraced Ribbon Falls' on land formerly owned by Joseph Benjamin Felker, who was born and lived his entire life on that property. Tiffany Falls, located in the Tiffany Falls Conservation Area in Ancaster, is a 'Cascade Waterfall' fed by Tiffany Creek. All three were named after Dr. Oliver Tiffany, the district's first doctor, who came to Ancaster Township in 1796 and served the population of the village and area for forty years.

Stay tuned as the chicks change daily before your eyes. Watch how dark and how tall they get. When they can stretch to meet Madame X’s beak we know it won’t be long until they are up on the ledge and preparing to fly. We will keep a close eye on them as they grow and will likely start the dawn to dusk Falconwatch on June 8 or 9.


Thursday, May 31, 2012 - Around 10:00am today 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 both will be right there to check on the little ones as soon as the climber clears the nest ledge. 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 watching throughout the operation. We will update the webpage with names and details as soon as possible. If you are downtown you can catch all the action on our TV monitor in Jackson Square.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - Our 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. The photo at left, taken at 06:36 today, shows how much they have grown from the fluffball stage just a few weeks ago. 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 they 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 on camera when one of the adults turns up with food. The chicks of course don't know that they're going to have visitors tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Saturday, May 26, 2012 - After hearing on the Peregrine chat line that the chicks at the Burlington Skyway Bridge and the Toronto Sheraton Hotel were banded a few days ago, our youngsters wanted to know if they were being left out. Not at all. This Thursday, May 31, 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. If still present - it was this morning - the unhatched egg will also be brought back for analysis. 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. The photo at left was taken at 10:11 today. The chicks are going to have to start watching that they don't bump their heads on the brickwork!


Sunday, May 20, 2012 - The photo at left was captured at 9:38 this morning, just as Madame X finished feeding her three chicks. Bulging crops (the "bald" patches on their breasts) show that the meal was ample, and assures that the chicks will continue to grow healthy and strong. You may view the full size version of this photo, along with other recent photos, by clicking the Gallery link above, then clicking the link to the 2012 "Webcam Favourites".


Sunday, May 12, 2012 - At 07:00 today the three chicks were standing up while Madame X and Surge were out of the nest ledge. Compare the image at left with the one below and note how much bigger they are by comparing them to the egg, which of course has not changed in size. The chicks are showing normal behaviour for their age, especially snoozing flat out on the gravel bed of the ledge much of the time. They will become more active as they get bigger. Stay tuned!


Thursday, May 10, 2012 - The Hamilton Spectator always keeps an eye on our Peregrines and this year is no exception. The image at left is featured on Page A2 of today's paper and under "Other News" in the on-line version at www.thespec.ca. The three chicks are growing steadily and appear to be doing very well. It appears that the fourth egg, still present this morning, will not hatch, which happens occasionally. Stay tuned to see the chicks grow.


Sunday, May 6, 2012 - Chick Number Three came on the scene less than two hours after Number Two. So far all three seem to be in good shape and are doing typical chick things like snoozing, as can be seen at left. The fourth egg is also visible - stay tuned!!


Saturday, May 5, 2012 dinnertime - 2012 chick Number Two appeared shortly after noon today. We can't tell which chick is which in the photo at left, but at this stage who cares? We're happy the two are well. No predictions yet as to when the third youngster will appear. Stay tuned!!


Saturday, May 5, 2012 - just after 08:00 today Madame X took a quick break, letting us have a really good view of her first offspring of the year. A second egg is cracked so this one may not have to wait too long for a sibling to appear. Stay tuned!!


Friday, May 4, 2012 evening - around 19:35 this evening Lead Monitor Dria McGraw noticed a change in the picture from the nest. It was a bit subtle but proved to be what we've been waiting for - a broken eggshell! It took another hour to get the image at left - 2012's first Peregrine chick is the pinky-white scraggly thing at the bottom right edge of the picture. The white blob at left is half of the shell. Observant falconwatchers will notice Madame X eating the broken shell. This is to help restore calcium to her system. Stay tuned!! With luck chick number two should be here by Sunday.


Friday, May 4, 2012 - It won't be long now! The dark almost vertical line on the left hand egg in the image at left is what shows on the surface when the chick inside is chipping its way out. Sometime today, if not already, we should be seeing a little white fluffball. Stay tuned!!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - Madame X and Surge continue to take turns brooding the eggs, turning them regularly with their talons and beaks, as can be seen in the image at left. If all goes well we should be seeing little white fluffballs in about 10-12 days.

We have received good news from Jacquie Walters of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which monitors their Peregrines. Duncan, one of our 2008 birds, and his non-banded mate are still at the South Grand Island Bridge on Interstate 190 over the Niagara River between Niagara Falls, NY and Buffalo. A nest check on April 2 revealed three eggs. Duncan and his mate stick very close together and stay right near their nest site even outside of nesting season. The picture of Duncan at left was taken by Jacquie and her team in June 2010.

As in past years, Falconwatch is again showing live nest video in our 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 Rogers 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 and information signs.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - Gleig, banded at the Sheraton Hamilton on 2 June 2009, has just been identified as the female of a Peregrine pair at the Buffalo Central Terminal. Named after the late Don Gleig, Falconwatch's co-Lead Monitor in 1998 and 1999, at 1049 grams she is the largest Peregrine chick banded to date in Hamilton. Before fledging completely and going on her way in August 2009, after a series of increasingly low novice flights Gleig had been rescued at ground level by Falconwatch and returned to the Sheraton nest. Because of her size, she would have had no hope of getting off the ground under her own power without help. The image at left shows Gleig being checked out during the rescue. There have been no subsequent reports of her until this week. Gleig is the second Sheraton Hamilton Peregrine to settle in the Buffalo area, following in the talon steps of 2008's Duncan who, as far as we know, is still nesting at the Grand Island Bridge on the highway south of Niagara Falls, New York.

Meanwhile, back at the Sheraton Hamilton, our pair are continuing to brood the eggs, with shift changes taking place regularly.


Saturday, April 14, 2012 - If there's a word for what our Peregrines experience from the time egg-laying ends until chicks hatch, it could easily be 'boredom'. It looks as though they just sit there all the time. All is not how it seems, however. Every morning, within half an hour of sunrise, Madame X comes off the eggs after her overnight shift and Surge takes over. X goes away for a bit to stretch her wings and legs, then comes back to the Sheraton area. After another hour or so, the two change places again. This goes on until dusk when, as far as we can tell, Madame X settles in again for the night. How do we tell which adult is which? Madame X, on the left of the photo, has a well speckled upper chest, while Surge's chest is almost pure white. You can also see the difference in size between these two. Female raptors are always 25-35% larger than males.


Saturday, April 7, 2012 - The beautiful blue skies and warmer daytime temperatures of the last two days have been good for our falcons. One of the adults' tasks, usually but not exclusively performed by Madame X, is to turn the eggs to ensure that the warmth she and Surge are passing on is evenly distributed thought each egg. In the image at left, captured at 10:42 this morning, Madame X is just settling down after a minor turning and a stretch. The four eggs can be seen clearly.


Thursday, April 5, 2012 - Around 17:45 yesterday one of our Senior Monitors thought he saw signs that Madame X had laid her fourth egg of the year. Unfortunately the dark shadows caused by the setting sun didn't allow a closer look. This morning at 06:49 there was no doubt, as can be seen in the image at left. Is that all for 2012? Madame X has never laid more than four eggs but.... Stay tuned!

THREE!!! (No Joke!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012 - At 15:36 this afternoon Madame X produced the third egg of the 2012 season. Thanks to our newest camera and great setup work by Webmaster Charles, the slightly brightened photo at left shows Madame X as she is actually expelling the egg. We have never caught this moment 'live' before. Mark your calendars for the few days before Mother's Day. If all goes well we should see chicks then.

NEWS! See the History page for the latest on Durand, one of the 2009 chicks.


Friday, March 30, 2012 - When Madame X left the ledge at 07:08 this morning it was very evident that she had been busy overnight. As can be seen in the photo at left, we now have two eggs in the nest. Let's hope for more.


Thursday, March 29, 2012 - Madame X is keeping busy brooding the only egg to emerge, at least as of 16:00 this afternoon. The photo of the egg at left was taken yesterday at 9:45. As you can see, Peregrine eggs are pretty big. No wonder it takes time for new ones to appear!


Monday, March 26, 2012 - Well, the warm weather definitely accelerated egg laying this year. The brightened photo at left, taken at 19:22 this evening, shows Madame X proudly looking at her first egg of 2012, laid three days earlier than any year going back at least as far as 2005. The egg was actually spotted around 17:00 but the gloom caused by the ledge blocking the setting sun made it difficult to confirm. Now we know for sure!!! With the temperature dropping below freezing tonight Madame X will not be far from the egg tomorrow, but things are warming up again and, we hope, more eggs will appear. Way to go, X and Surge!


Sunday, March 25, 2012 - The photo at left shows Madame X visiting the nest ledge at 13:40 yesterday afternoon, another sign that egg-laying is not far off. Viewers can easily see how Falconwatchers tell the birds apart by comparing this picture with the one of Surge just below. Madame X is larger than Surge, her 'mustache is large and triangular where Surge's is narrow and rectangular, and Surge's chest is quite white while Madame X has lots of blue-grey speckling up into her throat area. We are fortunate to have both of them back, Madame X for her twelfth year and Surge for his seventh.


Friday, March 23, 2012 - In the last couple of days, the amount of time Madame X and Surge have been spending in the scrape has increased significantly. The photo at left shows Surge at 07:50 this morning on his third visit to the nest in half an hour. This is a sure sign that egg-laying is not far off. In the last six years the first egg has appeared between March 29 and April 1. This year it may be earlier due to the very unusual warm temperatures we have been experiencing. Nothing to do but wait and see!


March 15, 2012 - Thanks to the generous support of Worldline.ca (a Fibernetics company) our Falconcams are back online for another nesting season (Oh? You noticed? *smile*). Within the first day of operation we captured images of both adults and their bands, verifying that Madame X and Surge are still our resident pair. Both have been busy in the nest scrape... We will start watching for eggs by the end of March.


March 2, 2012 - Another Spring is upon us!

Madame X and Surge once 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 twelfth year and Surge (if it is him) for his seventh season.

In 2011 Madame X and Surge hatched three chicks, Pigott, a female weighing in at a hefty 914 grams, Thomson, a male at 650 grams, and Gore, also a male at 671 grams. All named for famous Hamilton landmarks. Pigott needed to be rescued twice, and received some tender loving care from the Raptor center, and in the end all three chicks fledged successfully. You can read more about their exploits in the History section.

The new camera installed last year (funded by a generous grant from the TD-Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Fund), significantly improved the detail of images obtained, and with a second camera constantly on wide-angle view, more activity was captured.

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, with the generous support of 295.ca, 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 eighteenth 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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