Hamilton Falconwatch News

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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - As winter begins – and what a start to it! - we can report that when not scattering the downtown pigeon population as they approach, Madame X and Surge are spending much of their time atop the CIBC sign on the building at the southwest corner of King and James. It appears this location offers them the best shelter from the prevailing winds and best access to food.

We have a Christmas present for Falconwatchers! Well known Hamilton photographer Barry Cherriere has kindly given us permission to use the image shown above, ”Madame X in flight (2009)”, as a ‘wallpaper’ image for your computer. Webmaster Charles has prepared the file for several different screen resolutions. To download the file, click on the Gallery button above, then on "Falcons on your Desktop!" Click the link under the image for the correct full size file for your computer, then right-click on the full size image and select 'Save image as....' to save it on your computer.

We are looking forward to the 20th season with the Sheraton Hamilton Falcons.

FALCONWATCH 2013 WRAPS UP

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - Senior Monitors Erica Lagios and Mike Street report: Our 2013 Peregrines, Laura (left) and Brock (right) have fledged! From March 5, when our Internet link went live, to last Sunday, July 28, this has been the longest Falconwatch season on record. With the long delay before eggs were laid and the many ups and downs experienced - two eggs not hatching, uncertainty about Brock's gender and slow development and especially her two rescues, and Laura's amazing flying skills - it has been very eventful. We want to THANK sincerely our two Coordinators, Rachael Belford and Cheryl Dobell, our Webmaster and camera positioning wizard, Charles Gregory, and ALL the volunteers for their efforts on behalf of the birds during one of the hottest Falconwatches ever experienced. Had we not been around, Brock might not have fared as well as she did. WELL DONE EVERYONE!! A sincere THANKS once more to our major partners - the Sheraton Hamilton, Yale Canada - First Real Properties Limited, and the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board for their cooperation and the use of the various facilities needed to carry out Falconwatch.

The formal 2013 Falconwatch is over. The fledglings will spend more and more time away from downtown, exploring the city while still keeping in touch with the adults, until they decide that it is time to wander further. The normal migration period for Peregrines is the last two weeks of September and the first week of October, when most juveniles head south, some as far as the Caribbean and South America. We will keep the cameras turned on for some time yet and Falconwatchers who are downtown will check on any Peregrines still around. Madame X and Surge are expected to stay all winter. We will keep an eye on them too, and look forward to our twentieth Falconwatch in 2014.

We also wish to THANK everyone who has made a donation to help pay for Falconwatch. The Coordinators' daily reports, the camera images, on-street Falconwatch equipment and display window electronics are all made possible by YOUR contributions. Falconwatch does not cost a lot, but grants do not cover all our expenses and there are still bills to be paid. If you have not yet made your donation, please do so as soon as you can. Please click on the 'Donate' button above to learn what the money is used for and how to make a tax creditable donation. We and the birds Thank You!

FALCON LEAP-FROG!

Sunday, July 28, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: As I got out of my car at 13:45 today I heard the falcons screaming right above me. I looked up and saw the girls engaged in a ferocious game of tag! By the time I made it up to the tower, things had settled down, with Laura relaxing on the BDC logo and Brock on the "H" of the Sheraton sign. The afternoon was full of leap-frogging, with the girls executing perfect flights and landings to all of their favourite perches. Around 17:00, we noticed that a 'snack' had been left on the lower part of the squiggle of the west BDC logo, untouched and unnoticed by the girls. (Because the girls spent so much time out of camera range, we tried to get creative today and take pictures through the telescope!)

At 18:03 Brock visited me on the 21st floor, but she left before I managed to take a picture. A possible food transfer between Surge and Brock occurred at 18:48, but we were unable to see where she landed and could not confirm this. At 19:37, Laura landed on the upper part of the west BDC logo, and Brock landed on the lower part, finally discovering and diving into the snack!! Laura noticed, and tried to join her sister, but was unable to land on the small space and had to settle for the IG sign on BDC. This is actually where they stayed until I left at 21:00. It was a wonderful last day at Falconwatch, and I would like to thank everyone for their time and effort this year!!

FALCON FAMILY FEEDING FRENZY!

Saturday, July 27, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Both chicks were active this afternoon but, as usual, Laura did more flying than Brock, visiting her usual places: the two cranes, the Hilton, Standard Life and Sheraton. At 14:45 Brock joined Laura for a flight which ended on Sheraton. After a 10 minute downpour at 15:25 the pair made their way to Standard Life where they took baths (left) and played in the puddles. Around 17:00 one of the chicks took off after a gull or a tern, but this time the target bird put some defence up and turned to go after the chick! Nothing came of it other than the chick being put in her place!

Laura and Brock took to the sky together again at 18:35 and after a couple of minutes perched on Standard Life, then moved to the Sheraton where they proceeded to spend quality time sitting together (left) and beak touching. Brock was squawking a lot, clearly voicing her hunger, and finally around 19:40 Madame X brought a large pigeon to the top of Hamilton Place. While one chick ate, the other took off to Standard Life but didn’t stay there long before taking off again and going out of sight. She then reappeared on Standard Life and was eating! Only minutes later Surge appeared on BDC, but the whole time Madame X had been keeping watch over the chick still eating on Hamilton Place. We don’t know for sure, but we think Surge might have transferred food to the chick, which then proceeded to eat it on Standard Life. With everything happening at once it only takes a second to miss something! The meal on Standard Life was small, though, and the chick eventually returned to Hamilton Place to try and get more from that food drop. Satisfied, Brock flew back to Sheraton at 20:15 where she pancaked, while Laura continued to eat. With the dark cloudy sky and early sunset, visibility was poor by 20:45, but when we left all four family members were accounted for, which is a great way to end the day, and my time with Falconwatch 2013!

MORE GOOD FLYING!

Friday, July 26, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Upon arrival at 14:00, no chicks were in sight. At 14:18 one flew in front of Stelco but then went up and out of my sight. At 14:56 I finally spotted a chick on the lower Sheraton roof, but just as I spotted her a man appeared on the roof and caused her to take off. She again flew above me, probably landing on the Stelco tower. At 15:26 I heard two chicks screaming for food. I was unable to locate them but they sounded really close, confirming my suspicions that they were camped out above me. They may have taken off after that as I did not hear or see them for a while. Finally, at 18:06, Surge and Laura appeared from nowhere. Surge deposited food on top of Stelco and Laura settled in to eat. The delivery of a meal caused Brock to take make an appearance; she landed first on the Sheraton, then on CIBC, then back to the Sheraton. Things were quiet until 19:13 when the appearance of some men on the roof of Fairclough caused Brock to take off from Sheraton, circle for a good three minutes, and then dive right at one of the men! He quickly ducked and Brock was satisfied that she had taught him a lesson, as she then made her way to Stelco. At 19:20, Brock and Surge made a successful mid-air food transfer, with Brock taking her prize to Standard Life. Laura showed up to investigate, but calmly waited her turn. The girls could be seen sharing the meal on the rooftop. Full and tired, they spent a lot of time cuddling and beak touching, only stretching their wings at 20:17 to play tag, and making a few short flights around the area. As we packed up for the night one chick was on Stelco and the other on the Sheraton.

BROCK HAS REALLY FOUND HER WINGS!

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: When I arrived at 14:00 there were no birds in sight and I thought it might be a quiet day, but only half an hour later the youngsters proved me wrong! Laura came into view south of Stelco and was shortly joined by Brock. They demonstrated beautiful technique as they flew close together, riding thermals and touching talons. Although there were a handful of very short breaks on top of Stelco this flying session lasted approximately 12 minutes. To date this is by far the longest flight I have seen Brock take! (The photo shows Brock almost fully recovered from her window collision on Tuesday. Obviously there were no after effects!) The pair finally landed, first Brock on Standard Life, then a few minutes later Laura on the north BDC logo. Brock then did a couple of victory laps around Sheraton and settled on the lower roof. At 15:35 the siblings went for a shorter tandem flight; eventually they perched together on the Sheraton. Laura took to the air again at 16:00, first hovering above Brock before soaring high on thermals to the west of downtown and eventually out of sight. She joined Brock atop Sheraton 50 minutes later. Was she off hunting that entire time, or was she hiding somewhere out of sight?

Throughout the early evening Laura and Brock took more short flights, some together, some apart. Around 19:00 there was a food transfer between Laura and an adult on the CIBC logo. Brock was a little bit slow figuring out what had happened, but promptly started circling above her sister screaming out her hunger too! Laura took the meal back to Sheraton where she started to dig in. After a little bit of squabbling, Brock also got a share. Then, only five minutes after Brock finished eating the first meal, Surge came in to Thomson with a second! Laura, who was already in the air, did a fancy back-flip-like manoeuvre to get to the food quickly and finished the whole meal in 20 minutes. The pair then joined up on the Sheraton. They did a lot of beak touching but also appeared to be jostling each other like siblings do. Around 20:40 Surge delivered yet another meal, this time to Brock. She started eating, but it wasn’t long before Laura dropped in, grabbed the food and took it to Standard Life for herself. We left them at 21:00 with Laura still eating on Standard Life and Brock on Sheraton. Even with the sun already set, I’m sure their evening activities were not over yet!

BROCK IS BACK - AGAIN!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: While Brock was away Laura continued to fly all over the place, including a brief visit to the nest ledge (photo). After yesterday’s adventures Brock was returned to the Sheraton today with a(nother) clean bill of health! The only change was that her weight had increased by 70 grams! During her release on the Sheraton roof at 14:40 Laura circled overhead as if to welcome her sister home! Rather than hiding like last time, Brock promptly made her way to one of the beams next to the east wall and started calling. Surge flew by occasionally to check up on her, but didn't land with food for about two hours. Brock immediately flew over to grab the meal but in her excitement to eat forgot to think about her landing and ended up knocking both of them down to the gravel part of the roof! Surge quickly took off and Brock stayed out of sight, presumably eating. Around 17:30 Brock reappeared on the south wall of Sheraton where she stayed for the next couple of hours. At 18:00 Laura had a beautiful long flight, soaring over the downtown on thermals for a good five minutes. She ended up flying north and out of sight, but showed up later on the north BDC logo.

At 19:30 Surge came in carrying a huge pigeon. Laura was following right behind and after receiving the food landed on the Thomson building. Brock flew over – the photo shows her just taking off - from the Sheraton to get in on the meal. Both juveniles wanted to eat so there was a bit of tug-of-war and some mantling, but in the end they took turns eating and were occasionally seen sharing the same piece. After Laura was finished she took off to the crane over the parking lot and then back to Sheraton while Brock continued filling her crop. At 20:35 Brock took to the air again and was soon joined by Laura; they circled the downtown area a couple of times before landing back on Sheraton. Right at 21:00 they both decided to take off again. The last we saw of Laura she had landed on the west BDC logo, while Brock had gone back to the north side of Stelco. Who knows where they will be by tomorrow?

While the dawn to dusk part of Falconwatch has ended, the Coordinators and some volunteers will continue to monitor the birds between 14:00 and 21:00 at least until next Sunday, July 28.

BROCK GIVES US A SCARE - TWICE!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: On arriving at 09:00 I was informed by our faithful volunteers that none of the birds had yet been spotted, so I settled in for what looked like a quiet day while the girls were off exploring. Although both chicks were spotted on the Sheraton roof around 09:20, and Laura and an adult performed an aerial food transfer around 10:40, I still was not expecting much. This changed suddenly at 11:10 with a call from the people at RBC saying that a falcon had crashed into a window on the 15th floor of Stelco and was on the ledge! I rushed down in a panic to find a flustered looking Brock. At first her eyes were closed and she was holding her left wing in an awkward position. Two members of the Rescue Team arrived quickly and together we watched, knowing that a physical rescue from her then current position was impossible. After a further bit of rest Brock stood up and began to stretch, first the right wing and then the left. After the stretch both wings were in their proper positions and only a few feathers were out of place – she was OK! The picture shows Brock on the ledge. A huge thank you goes out to everyone at Yale and RBC who alerted us to this incident and were incredibly helpful throughout!

At 13:40, Brock left the 15th floor of Stelco and returned to the Sheraton roof. Laura joined her sister for the majority of the afternoon, and both chicks were seen circling and chasing each other over the city. After a nap Brock joined Laura on the window washing beam and let us get this picture. At 19:05, Laura landed on Standard Life with food, probably from an aerial transfer. After this she and Brock were generally quiet but at 21:00, just as we were packing up for the day, they took to the air together with a lot of noise. The pair seemed to be fighting as they disappeared east down King Street. A few minutes later a man came rushing up to tell us that a bird was on the ground. We hurried over and, sure enough, there was Brock - on the floor of a parking garage where they were power washing floors and walls!! We got the water stopped and after a couple of tries got Brock under control and into a rescue box. Although Brock was quite feisty, because this was the second incident of the day it was decided to take her for another medical assessment. We will let you know how she is doing as soon as we hear, likely by mid-afternoon.

BROCK IS FULL OF SURPRISES!

Monday, July 22, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Laura and Brock were both active in the early morning. During one noteworthy flight they flew together in formation, one practically on top of the other, calling the whole time. The first food drop of the day arrived around 07:30. At 09:00 both of them went out of sight and couldn’t be found from the tower or the ground. Laura showed up at 10:00 on the upper Sheraton roof, at which point she took to the air and went for a trip towards the Landmark Building. I lost sight of her for a while, but after a couple of minutes she came back into view and landed on the nest ledge (left) with a small treat. Perhaps one of the adults dropped off a snack for her? Around 11:30 Laura briefly visited a new building, “Scarfone Hawkins”, before chasing off a Turkey Vulture far to the north east. She appeared again at 12:30 and landed on the Stelco roof, where spent the afternoon resting and taking short return flights.

At 14:00 Surge landed on the upper Sheraton roof, and POOF, Brock popped up from behind some equipment to grab a meal! She immediately took it to her hiding place, again out of sight. A half hour later she emerged and close to 15:00 took to the air. She circled around a couple times, gaining height, then landed and pancaked (left) on the ledge on the 21st floor of Stelco, where she spent the rest of the afternoon. I don’t know how she finds that comfortable! Surge made numerous close passes trying to encourage Brock off the ledge, but she didn’t budge! At 18:30 Laura accepted an aerial food transfer from Surge and took it to the Sheraton to enjoy. Things started to get really interesting 15 minutes later! Brock took off from Stelco, went back, and then over to Standard Life; both times her flights were indirect and included circling and soaring over downtown. She then flew back to Stelco, at which point Laura left her eating perch and followed Brock. The two of them performed some amazing aerobatics and even attempted an aerial food transfer! They landed on Standard Life where Brock grabbed the small morsel of food. Not long after this they took off once more, flying together and talon touching. We left them at 21:00 atop the upper Sheraton roof. What a great day for Brock! She has finally found her wings!

THE ADVENTURES OF LAURA AND BROCK

Sunday, July 21, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Both chicks were identified early today, Brock on the upper Sheraton roof and Laura on the lower roof . They just hung out for a while, enjoying the lovely weather, until Laura took off to show a Turkey Vulture that he had come to the wrong neighborhood. Both adults joined in the chase to reinforce the concept, then all three vanished from sight after a couple of victory laps. When Laura reappeared on the upper roof of the Sheraton Brock came running out to greet her. Laura either brought food with her, or there were leftovers nearby as both were seen eating. They then spent some sister time together, which included beak touching as well as typical older sister bullying - Laura kicking Brock while she tried to nap! Laura left for Stelco shortly after and Brock lay down for another afternoon nap.

After lunch, at 14:55, Surge scared the daylights out of me, when he swooped so low down King Street trying to catch a pigeon that our volunteers reported him at eye level! Unsuccessful in his hunt, he landed on a lamp post just outside the parking lot and kept everyone company for a while before taking off again. At 17:05 another Turkey Vulture, or the same silly one, was chased off by Laura and both adults. Some people, or birds, never learn! At 17:56, we finally had some action from Brock. Laura flew past the Sheraton and enticed her sister off the ledge, although the flight was a short one, both girls landing safely on the lower Sheraton roof . Laura soon left for Standard Life, apparently leaving Brock feeling lonely because she made her way to the upper Sheraton a few minutes later. Laura came to collect her sister, or actually chase her around the Sheraton and Standard Life, before both landed once again on the upper Sheraton roof. The real excitement of the evening began At 19:00 when an adult flew by with an enormous meal, causing both chicks to take off in a frenzy! The chase progressed east down King Street, where Surge and Laura performed an aerial food transfer, and Laura flew back to Standard Life with her prize! Brock appeared a few minutes later, watching Laura pluck and eat her share before taking her turn. Around 20:00, Laura followed Surge to the Sheraton, where she collected a second dinner which she brought back to Standard Life. At dusk both chicks, and the leftovers from both meals, were on the east side of Standard Life. Neither youngster landed within camera range today.

BROCK MOVES TO THE TOP!

Saturday, July 20, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: All four birds made it through the wild storm that came through last evening just fine! Laura and Brock were both active and flying around early. Laura even showed Brock one of her favourite buildings, the Hilton. Brock received a food drop on Standard Life just before 07:00. By 10:00 Laura hadn’t been given her own meal, but she took the liberty to go ahead and eat Brock’s leftovers. After eating, Laura went over to see Brock who hadn’t moved from her spot on Standard Life since I arrived at 09:00. They did some beak touching, but whenever Brock laid down Laura would poke at Brock with her feet as if to say, “Hey stop being lazy and come fly with me!” Around 11:15 Brock decided to stretch her wings and went for a couple short flights, joined by Laura on one of them. Brock then settled on top of the Sheraton air conditioner where she stayed for the rest of the afternoon. This is a much welcomed change from the past four days when she spent most of her time underneath it! For a while Brock was lying lengthwise along a pipe and draping her wings over either side. I wonder if the water coming out of the pipe was cool, making it nice to ‘hug’. If this is the case, I’m sure she wished she’d discovered it a few days ago!

Laura showed off her Houdini skills a few times today, but most of the time it didn’t take long to find her in her favourite spots: The Sheraton “S”, the cranes, the Hilton, etc. At 17:45 Brock finally left the pipe on the air conditioner and took another couple of flights, finishing up atop a small pyramidal superstructure on the Sheraton upper roof. When Surge came in with a food drop Brock had to figure out how to make the short flight from her perch to the main part of the upper roof to his location. After a bit of flapping she finally made a flying hop and landed quite nicely on the ledge to claim the prize. Shortly after 19:00 Laura’s first official meal of the day came by way of an aerial transfer right above the parking lot, and very close to the crane! Laura took the huge meal to Thomson where she spent an HOUR eating! Brock then got fed again at 20:25. Amazingly Laura chased after the adult screaming as if she was still hungry. We were surprised she could fly with how much she ate let alone wanting more! Laura then flew over to Brock atop the Sheraton, which is where we left them at 21:00. A little while later Laura flew to the nest ledge for this photo.

WHO IS RESCUING WHOM?

Friday, July 19, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Today started off with the four falcons out of sight. All were located by 08:00 - Brock and Surge were on top of Thomson finishing off a meal, while Laura and X were spotted off hunting. After that, we settled into the usual day: Laura showing off by making tricky landings ('S' of Sheraton, top of the BDC logo), while Brock napped in the shade. Laura disappeared frequently all day, randomly appearing to show off before going missing again. Our calm afternoon was interrupted by the crazy weather that started around 18:00. Laura proved herself once again by braving the elements and landing on both of the cranes, tricky logos and rooftops. After a brief pause in the storm, during which Laura was located on Standard Life, Brock appeared on the east roof edge of the Sheraton. The weather conditions got worse and forced us to call off the watch early, but not before a rescue of sorts did occur - our friend and long time volunteer Angelica had to be assisted from across the parking lot, where she was found hugging a pole, terrified of the lightning which had started up suddenly!!! This was the first time Falconwatch has made a non-bird rescue. Let's hope the cooler weather promised for tomorrow gets Brock into the air with his sister or one of the adults.

LAURA EXPLORES, BROCK SNOOZES

Thursday, July 18, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Today the first meal was delivered at 05:20 to the Standard Life Building, where both Brock and Laura had apparently spent the night. As usual, Laura had her morning work-out by flying here, there and everywhere. Another food drop around 09:00 to the top of Sheraton brought Laura eagerly flying over to accept. Just before this Brock flew from Standard Life towards Stelco and out of sight, her landing location unknown. We spent the next hour or so trying to locate her, without finding any sign! Being already ridiculously hot she was likely pancaked somewhere in the shade. Laura found herself a new perch today - on the north and west BDC logos. She also discovered which ones had spikes and which ones did not! On a couple of occasions Laura was seen taking long fights soaring on thermals, chasing after an adult, or chasing after potential prey! It’s just a matter of time before she comes back with a meal caught all on her own! Surge fed Laura again on the Sheraton at 15:15 and 17:30, with no sign of Brock. Despite our repeated search efforts we still had no idea where she was hiding. Then suddenly at 19:00 Brock appeared on the lower Sheraton roof! Could she have been hiding under the air conditioner ALL day!? It sure looked like it. Brock slowly made her way along the roof gravel, up the beams and close to the edge, calling incessantly (left photo)! She was likely very hungry because she had missed two meals! Throughout the rest of the evening Laura kept flying to and from Sheraton, often swooping right over Brock, likely trying to convince her to join in the fun!! Brock didn’t budge from the Sheraton, so at 21:00 Laura settled down next to her sister to spend some quality time beak touching. In the right hand photo Brock is closest to the camera.

ALMOST TOO HOT TO MOVE!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Today was hot, very hot. Both Brock and Laura did a lot of sitting in the shade trying to keep cool - or at least to not get any hotter! – but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do any flying. At first light they were both on Standard Life, and Laura made some short flights including one to chase off a gull. Following a food drop at Standard Life around 08:00 Laura flew to her usual mid-morning perch on the “S” on the north side of Sheraton. A little while later Brock went for a change of scenery and flew to the 13th floor on the west side of Stelco. Both juveniles stayed put for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. At 13:35 Laura flew over to Standard Life, then back to Sheraton on the “a”. These were just the warm ups, because she then immediately took off for a 6 minute soaring flight really high and far to the east of downtown, finishing it off doing a really Peregrine stoop to a landing on Stelco! During the rest of the afternoon she was often out of sight, either playing peek-a-boo atop Stelco, or maybe she ducked out and went exploring the rest of Hamilton - we don't know and she is at the stage where she could do just that. For her part, Brock left Stelco at 15:45 heading for Fairclough and landed on a window sill but, unable to get secure footing, took off for Sheraton. She attempted a landing on the upper roof, but landed on the lower roof instead and, just like yesterday, went for the shade of the air conditioning unit. Laura returned to the Sheraton to join her sister, landing first on the ‘h’ – what is it with her and letters? – then hopping over to the camera beam. Brock eventually came out from her hiding place to pay a visit as well. At one point Laura was sitting on the beam snacking on some leftovers directly above Brock, who was on an another beam (photo). As the sun went down the activity level increased; at 21:00 Laura flew to Standard Life, followed by Brock. We left them there showing their affection for each other by beak touching. All in all Brock’s flights are looking very good and improving each day. She is able to gain height, but still has to master her landings.

BROCK IS BACK AND SHE IS A SHE!!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: After spending a quiet night Brock was examined thoroughly and weighed, getting a clean bill of health. At 744 grams, Brock is clearly a female, so we can use 'her' and 'she' from now on! The photo shows her on the scale - not a very dignified pose, but necessary under the circumstances. I then brought her back to Hamilton. Rachael will take up the story from here. (See below for Cheryl's updated report and a second photo from yesterday.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: With Brock absent today started slowly, the only interesting incident being a show of talon touching and another possible aerial food transfer between Laura and an adult at 06:58. At 07:40, Laura flew to the nest and settled in, looking very lonely without Brock around. After learning that Brock was a girl and was on her way back to the nest we prepared for a release! Hard hats on, Cheryl carried the rescue box with me close behind as we advanced to the middle of the lower Sheraton roof. At 11:37 Cheryl kneeled to let Brock out of the box while I acted as lookout, raising my arms and forming them into claws to appear intimidating. However neither adult came over, the only visible one landing on Stelco while we were performing the release. We retreated back inside, leaving Brock close to home. Brock, of course, had other ideas and chose to spend the afternoon under the air conditioning unit, appearing only occasionally to stretch her wings. The photo shows her just a few minutes after being released.

Meanwhile, Laura performed some beautiful flights. Two in particular were spectacular; in both she caught thermals and rode them, circling above Stelco and the Sheraton, until she seemed to be as high as the clouds!! One flight lasted five minutes, the other lasted for eight! Laura then disappeared for a while. As this was going on Brock had started jumping, flapping and maybe flying around the lower part of the roof. Laura then reappeared, landing on the upper part of the Sheraton. At 20:27, Laura took off, chased a gull away, then landed right beside her sister on the eastern ledge of the Sheraton.

This is when the day got especially interesting, as both girls started flapping and almost knocking each other off the ledge! Madame X arrived nearby with food (finally) and there was a mad rush for the meal! Laura, who flew, beat the running Brock and carried her prize away to Standard Life. The disappointed Brock scuttled all the way around the south ledge almost to the nest, then took off after her sister to Standard Life! The flight was beautiful, although the landing needed improvement, as Brock hit the superstructure before landing on the lower roof. Unfortunately, by the time Brock sorted herself out Laura had once again escaped with her prize, this time to the north side of the lower Sheraton roof. Finally, at 20:37, Brock was rewarded for her efforts with a food drop – her first meal in 36 hours! - which she promptly mantled, a developmental stage we are thrilled to see her reach! Brock also plucked her own meal. As we packed up both girls were enjoying their meals on separate buildings, but at 21:05 Laura flew to Standard Life and tried to get Brock’s meal. Brock wasn’t having any of that nonsense (photo) and Laura left for the Sheraton at 21:10.

BROCK BREAKS AWAY!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013 (updated) - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: The early morning saw Brock very active on the ledge, flapping frequently and strongly. Surge delivered food to Brock at 08:00 who then napped in the late morning, but things took a turn at lunch time! A few seconds after 12:08:33 (left photo) Brock starting running at the west end of the nest ledge and never stopped!!!! Brock first flew to the upper roof of the Thomson building, then dropped down to the middle roof and next flew to the sixth floor level of the Stelco building, landing on the window ledge. An hour and a half later, possibly startled by someone inside Stelco, Brock slid down the side of the building to the second floor window ledge. Another hour later Brock tried to fly back to the Thomson building and wound up on the lowest Thomson roof. Brock spent the rest of the afternoon and evening napping and exploring the roof (right photo), trying to size up the best place for the next flight.

Finally, just before 21:00, Brock flew across King Street aiming for a ledge on Fairclough.Unable to get enough height Brock flew into the building, then came in for a landing on the lowest balcony facing King Street at the corner of King and McNab. Brock was then taken in hand by our Rescue team. Brock is OK, but after yesterday's adventures has been taken to a medical facility for routine precautionary observation. We will update Falconwatchers via the Web and Facebook pages when we have news.

A sincere and HUGE thanks to all the volunteers who each played a vital role in the rescue process!

Laura had an amazing day in her own right. She made several flights to her favourite places and was out of sight at different times. Around 14:30 Surge enticed Laura to the sky with food. Laura chased Surge around and they successfully completed an aerial food transfer! She landed back on the Sheraton to enjoy the meal, and then later took it over to Standard Life. Around 17:00 she joined one of the adults on a spiralling flight up above the Sheraton. The two of them eventually went out of sight. Laura was fed again atop Sheraton at 17:30. She had a little ‘oops’ moment around 18:30 when she accidentally flew into a window on Standard Life, but she kept on flying with the only damage done to her pride. Laura is doing VERY well, especially with the aerial food transfer!

FREQUENT FLYER!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Today saw another early food drop on the nest ledge, at 06:30. As usual, Laura hogged the food until she had her fill, leaving the leftovers to Brock. When I arrived at 09:00, Laura was on Standard Life, which is starting to look like her favourite perch, and Brock of course was in the nest. At 10:20, Laura showed how tough she was by chasing a Turkey Vulture away from the area. However, when two more TVs appeared, she pulled another Houdini, totally disappearing; we suspected she had taken refuge on Stelco. Mommy and Daddy quickly came to the rescue, chasing away the intruders. Both adults then landed in front of me on the 21st floor of Stelco!! Madame X disappeared after a while, and when a Peregrine appeared from nowhere, executing amazing flight skills before landing on the Sheraton, it was initially thought to be her. However, when another bird that was obviously an adult landed on the BDC logo, it became clear that the magnificent flyer had been Laura! She was crouched deep under a ledge, making it difficult to identify her. Her flying skills are absolutely amazing, and grow daily.

Peregines depend a lot on their feet, not only for walking but also for knocking prey down in mid-air and then catching the food before it hits the ground. They also pass food to one another while flying and, of course, use them for defence if another bird is dumb enough to attack. One of the signs of growing up we look for is 'talon touching', when a fledgling turns on its back and extends its talons towards an adult or a sibling. The photos of Laura's talons (above - S over 30, red tape) and Brock's (below - S over 31, no coloured tape) show how formidable these tools are. When fully grown, as they are now, a Peregine's foot is as big as a large man's hand!

Around 12:12, Laura showed off again, landing in the centre of the "A" of the Sheraton - NOT easy! Shortly after, Surge flew to the nest to spend some quality time with Brock. He appeared to dig around a bit and then to feed Brock, possibly leftovers from this morning. A quiet afternoon followed, probably due to the heat, with only one incident at 15:37 when Surge decided some gulls were getting a little too close to the nest for his liking and quickly dispatched them. The day ended with food drops for both chicks. One came at 19:30 for Laura on top of Standard Life. Then, at 20:37, X flew past the nest several times, causing Brock to go into a flapping frenzy! When Brock did not take to the air however, she landed and fed him. The night ended with Laura on Standard Life and Brock in the nest. Laura is making beautiful flights of increasing length, and Brock is beginning to show signs of wing strokes as powerful as those of Laura! Tomorrow could be very interesting.

FEAST AND FAMINE

Saturday, July 13, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: While Laura continued her peregrinations today, her flight range did not include the top of Stelco - been there, done that! On the food front, if yesterday was the feast, today was the famine. Brock got the first food drop of the day at 06:10; Laura had to wait much longer for her meal. In the early morning Laura flew several times to and from Sheraton, then for a change of scenery went to Standard Life. Shortly after 09:00 she was on the north side of Sheraton, but returned to the nest around 10:00. Brock and Laura spent some time interacting, including beak touching, for about half an hour (photo) before both settled down for a nap.

At 12:25 Laura hopped over to the lower Sheraton roof where she spent the majority of the afternoon resting, preening and exploring. In the early afternoon Surge and Madame X each took a turn visiting Brock in the nest. Everyone was doing their best to keep cool during the heat of the day! At 16:40 Laura took to the sky again twice, both flights ending back on the Sheraton, but one of these flights was timed at two minutes long!Laura’s turn to eat came around 18:00 when she joined Surge in the air and both circled Fairclough twice, gaining height, at which point Madame X joined them. There was a possible attempt at an aerial food transfer to Laura, but Madame X ended up delivering the meal to Standard Life. Laura eagerly took over and, just like yesterday, plucked the meal herself. After Laura was finished, Madame X tried to return to the food but Laura chased her away twice. Eventually Laura retired to Sheraton and Surge finished her leftovers.

Again today, Brock left most wing exercise until late. Only very occasionally during the morning and afternoon would he/she come onto the ledge and flap, but the evening saw Brock standing on the ledge, and quite frequently flapping, almost until dark. Lets hope the flapping keeps up and increases! When we left at 21:00 Brock was on the ledge and Laura on the camera arm (which seems to be her new favourite place), but as she has for the last number of nights, Laura eventually joined Brock in the nest for the night. Home sweet home!

Today saw a milestone of another sort. Laura is now 50 days old, and Brock 43. As can be seen in the photos, Brock has only a little bit of white left on his head and back, and Laura has none. Another feature these photos show is the shape of their 'moustaches', also known as 'malar stripes'. Laura's are long and narrow like Surge's; Brock's are large and triangular like that of Madame X. Thanks again to Webmaster Charles for all these terrific pictures!

PEREGRINES 1, OSPREY 0

Friday, July 12, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Today was a day full of food, flapping, making new friends, and dealing with enemies!! The action started early. A food drop for Brock at the nest at 06:05 was quickly followed by one to Laura atop Standard Life at 06:40. Laura then flew way up to the top of the Stelco Tower, which became her base for the majority of the day. At 09:25, the first enemy of the day flew into sight. First thought to be another Turkey Vulture, the large bird was actually an Osprey, a fish eating bird likely from the pair nesting on the other side of Hamilton Bay. Both adults were soon chasing the Osprey above the Sheraton and Standard Life and eventually out of the area. Surge performed a quick victory lap before both adults landed on the nest ledge at 09:43. Interestingly, one adult appeared to make a food drop, but when Brock came running, the second adult snatched the food away and flew to Standard Life. Perhaps a trick to entice Brock into flying? The attempt was unsuccessful, however, and the food was soon returned to the ledge to give Brock another meal.

At this point the adults decided to get some rest and I made new friends when each in turn landed on the ledge of the 21st floor of the Stelco building, right in front of me!!!! I was able to get pictures of them Surge (above) was first, then Madame X (below). The photos are not the greatest because of the sun filter in the glass, but what a view!

At 11:30, the second enemy of the day appeared, this time on foot, when workers appeared on the roof of the Sheraton. The men knew the drill, keeping close to the building and the air conditioner on which they were working, and other than a swoop or two there was no incident. At 12:10 there was another food drop to the nest ledge. Madame X started to feed Brock but Laura, who had been resting on the roof under the TV camera, had other ideas. She hopped right over, muscled both Mom and sibling out of the way, then took the food for herself and ‘mantled’ it. Mantling, a way of shielding her food from other birds with her wings, is a sign of maturation in Laura. She then made her way back to Stelco. During the day Brock – almost completely brown now - had several very brief flapping episodes, but at 16:25 he really made an effort to exercise those wings.

At 17:00 the third and final enemy of the day - a gull that Laura decided had to be chased away from Stelco! She then led everyone on a merry chase around downtown Hamilton, frequenting her usual perches before settling down on the south east corner of the Sheraton, where at 19:14 ANOTHER food drop was made to her while Brock watched jealously from the nest. Laura then jumped to the nest to spend some quality time with her sibling (beak touching included!). A final drop to Standard Life at 20:43 saw Laura actually pluck the meal herself – another milestone! We ended the day with Laura still on Standard Life and Brock in the nest. I learned later that over the years the adult Peregrines have driven away Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, Bald and Golden Eagles and other Peregrines but this was the first time an Osprey had ever tried to fly throught the Sheraton nest territory. What a day!

HOUDINI and LA-Z-BOY...or GIRL

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: This morning started off with Laura flying from the nest to a food drop on Standard Life around 7:00. At 09:00 Laura was reported to be still on Standard Life, but only popping into view every-so-often. At some point in the morning she pulled a Houdini and ‘magically appeared’ on the north-side of the Sheraton. No one saw her fly from Standard Life, but she was discovered on the “S” of the Sheraton sign at 11:30. This was a very tricky landing because of the surrounding emblem; veteran Falconwatchers do not recall any other fledgling ever landing there before. After an hour and a half nap she began a series of seven flights within 15 minutes, travelling to and from different locations on Sheraton and Standard Life. She showed off her landing abilities again by perching on the “a” of King St. side Sheraton sign, then finished her flying spurt resting on the camera arm. Laura’s second food drop was delivered by Surge, again to the Standard Life building. She eagerly flew over to claim the prize, then returned to the camera arm after the meal and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. Around 18:00 Laura took to the air again and landed on the top grate of the Stelco tower and spent the next couple of hours taking off and landing back at different locations on the tower grate. This is the highest building she has landed on, and she was riding thermals much higher. Her flights are also getting notably longer, some running between 1.5 and 2 minutes from start to finish. The photo shows Laura in her ‘tough girl’ pose yesterday afternoon when she stopped off on the beam supporting the camera.

Meanwhile, back at the nest. I was hoping to see Brock exercising more on the ledge today; unfortunately what we actually got was a whole lot of nothing! Brock spent most of the day sleeping in the corner of the nest, and only rarely got out onto the ledge. In the evening while Laura was exploring the Stelco tower Brock ventured up for a while, but wasn’t flapping as much as yesterday. Brock did not get fed today either. Perhaps he/she - we're still not sure of gender - is conserving energy, or maybe is just a stubborn teenager who won't take a hint from the parents! Around 21:00 Laura flew from Stelco to Standard Life, and then eventually joined her sibling in the nest for the night. We will see what tomorrow brings! The picture shows Brock at 11:16 today. While almost all the white feathers are gone, the little white cap will remain for at least a few more days.

STANDARD LIFE. SHERATON. THOMSON. REPEAT. REPEAT.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Laura stayed close to home today for the first time since she started flying. In the early morning she was first spotted on the Standard Life Building, where breakfast was delivered (Roof Service anyone?) just before 08:00. An hour later she flew to the Thomson Building where Madame X brought in another meal. After eating she spent some time pancaked on the south-west corner of the building watching the traffic on King Street. This is the lowest perch she has used but, with her proven flying ability, it was no surprise that she flew back up to the Sheraton roof without difficulty. Both Brock and Laura spent the majority of the afternoon napping in the nest together. A couple times we saw some beak touching between the two, an important bonding behaviour. This also allowed us to get this picture, showing how much white stuff Brock has shed in the last day or so.

In the late afternoon Laura headed out to do some more flying. She first went back to the Thomson building where Madame X was eating her leftovers from earlier in the day. Laura apparently didn’t like that idea and chased Madame X away, first from the food and then off the building! Laura then made several short flights to the Sheraton lower roof, to Standard Life, the Sheraton upper roof, to Standard Life, the Sheraton lower roof, and finally to Thomson to snack on more leftovers while the thunderstorm rolled through town. Her flights are becoming too numerous to count! As the rain was easing she flew back up to the Sheraton lower roof and took up one of her Mother's favourite perches, the window washing beam seen in this image.

The bad weather kept most visitors away from the Hamilton Naturalists' Club Wednesday Evening Walk, but those who did come out were treated to a few peeks at Brock and some neat flying by Laura. During one of these efforts the wind was very strong and gusty, which made Falconwatchers very nervous! After an attempt to land on the glass wall on the Standard Life building was unsuccessful she went flying east over King Street very low to the ground. Our amazing Laura then circled around until she could overcome the wind and landed safely on the Sheraton lower roof. Around this time (20:20) Brock's first meal of the day arrived. This is really late for the first and only meal of the day, but Madame X and Surge are likely trying to moderate Brock’s food in order to encourage him/her to get out on the ledge and start flapping more. If this was their strategy, I would say it is working! Today, especially this evening, was the most I have seen of Brock flapping on the ledge, and I even saw a few airborne hops. Hopefully tomorrow we will see even more!

VISITORS WELCOME

Every Wednesday all through the summer the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club holds a ‘Wednesday Evening Walk’. Today it is Falconwatch’s turn to host the event and everyone is welcome to visit. Just come to the parking lot at the corner of Bay and King Streets this evening at 18:30. We will tell you more about Peregrines and show you Laura and Brock up close through telescopes.

HOME AGAIN!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Early this morning Laura flew from the Hilton to the roof of the Sheraton, where she stayed all day and into the evening. Brock took advantage of Laura's absence, spending nearly the entire day on the ledge, but did very little in the wing exercising department. Following a noon meal, every time the adults flew near Laura got extremely excited and started flapping madly. Finally, at 19:10 she had had enough and began to "get the message". As an adult came by she took to the air and landed on the far side of the Sheraton roof. While this was going on the adult picked up some leftovers from the Hilton roof and brought them to Brock in the nest!

Over the next half hour, Laura led us on a merry chase, flying to Standard Life, to the nest ledge, to Standard Life, to CIBC, to Fairclough, to Standard Life and finally to the camera arm back at the Sheraton. At 20:41 a food transfer occurred between adults, and Surge arrived at the nest with a meal. Laura swooped over, pushed Surge and Brock out of the way, and grabbed it all for herself. After all of that flying, she earned it!! (Whether or not she realized that the adults’ strategy all along had been to make her come to the food, we don’t know.) The image above shows Laura and Brock together on the ledge after Laura had finished eating. Brock was well fed today too. Tomorrow will be another interesting day.

A FLIGHT-FULL DAY!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: When we met for our bird handling session the Senior Monitors told Rachael and I that Falconwatch was a combination of hours of boredom and moments of terror. We now know that they were not kidding!! The picture shows Laura at the very moment of her take off on Sunday evening, the beginning of a most eventful 24 hours.

After a night spent on a Fairclough window sill Laura left her perch around 05:15 this morning. It took our volunteers an hour to find her next location, which turned out to be the north side of the roof of the still under construction 'Homewood Suites by Hilton' building. She took a short flight from the north side of the Hilton to the south side where she hung out for the next few hours. Although she stayed on the same building, she did not stay put, often prancing along the south roof edge and occasionally practicing her landings by taking flying leaps back and forth between ledges. Around 10:45 Laura flew even further away from the nest, to an apartment building at 100 Bay Street, where she spent the next 3 ½ hours exploring that roof too! At approximately 15:15 Laura took off again, circled over City Hall once and headed north before disappearing from our sight. Despite our best efforts we didn’t find her again until almost 18:00 when she was spotted on the old Revenue Canada building at Main and Caroline Streets. Almost immediately she flew back to 100 Bay Street, explored for a few mintues and then zipped back to the Hilton! In the last 24 hours Laura has made at least TEN flights! Needless to say she is good at it, and her confidence shows! Laura only received one food drop today (in the evening) which was delivered and beak-fed by Madame X atop the Hilton. The picture is a bit grainy, but everyone at Falconwatch is pleased that our newest camera can be moved around and zoomed in to even take it. With the amount of activity from Laura today, one can only wonder what she will surprise us with tomorrow!

What about the other chick, you ask? Well, most of Brock’s time today was spent napping, but with Laura out of the nest he took advantage of the extra space. A couple of times Brock got out onto the ledge and practiced flapping his wings. Brock also got spoiled with three food deliveries that didn’t have to be shared with anyone else! The picture shows Surge topping Brock off at 16:15.

LAURA LEAPS!!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Initially, it seemed as though today was going to be relatively uneventful, with only two feedings before 18:00. In both instances, Laura pounced on the food as soon as it arrived and whisked it away from Brock, who had to wait until Laura decided to share. Laura was active on the ledge all day, flapping and hopping but never taking off. As darkness approached I had resigned myself to the fact that there would be no flight during my shift when all of a sudden, at 20:19:35, Laura took to the sky for the first flight of the 2013 season!! She flew straight to the roof of the Standard Life building, where she made a perfect landing. While Laura hung out on Standard Life, Madame X took the opportunity to visit the nest and feed Brock! Laura then flew to the roof of the Sheraton, directly above the 'N' on the sign and the nest, again acing her landing. The picture shows the nest ledge in the moments just before and after lift-off. (Thanks Charles!)

It looked like Laura would just make the short flight back to the nest, but instead she took off again, heading for the Fairclough building with Surge and X in pursuit. She managed a tricky landing on one of the sloped window ledges (photo) on the West side of the building, and had a bit of trouble getting a grip. Laura was last seen on that window, and will probably spend her first night away from home there. A great start to this part of Falconwatch, with three flights and three landings in half an hour! Stayed tuned to see where Laura goes next!

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT - FOR NOW!

Saturday, July 6, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Once again a quiet day as the chicks spent most of it sleeping under the brick overhang away from the sun. During the cooler hours in the early morning and late afternoon Laura exercised her wings on the upper ledge. The only observed food drop of the day came at 15:05. Laura hogged the morsel for four minutes, let Brock have a turn for four more, then took it back and finished it off. There was a bit of excitement around 16:30 as Laura witnessed her parents giving chase to a pigeon! She hopped up on the ledge and starting flapping and hopping as hard as I have ever seen her, looking very eager to join in the hunt. Despite amazing aerobatics by the adults, Laura was disappointed as the lucky bird pulled some incredible moves of its own and escaped. Hopefully both chicks will soon be in the air practicing manoeuvres of their own! The picture shows Brock this morning, at 37 days of age. Flight feathers are coming in very nicely and the facial pattern is beginning to show. Another two days or so and there won't be much white left. Stay tuned!

EVERYONE ON EDGE

Friday, July 5, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: The events of today had everyone involved in Falconwatch on the edge - literally. The volunteers were on the edges of their seats and the birds were on the edge of their nest! However, in spite of much enthusiastic flapping by Laura, we are still waiting for the much anticipated first flight. Although Laura has been very visible exercising her wings, until today Brock wasn't really in on that action. Then, this afternoon around 16:00 after a round of the usual enthusiastic flapping by Laura, Brock tried it out too, although from the safety of the nest and not the ledge. The picture shows Brock emulating Laura at that time. Other than this activity today was quiet, without much sign of Madame X and Surge, and only two noted food drops. Keep checking for updates, it can't be long now!!!

LAURA'S FIRST FLIGHT IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

Thursday, July 4, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: On arriving this morning the early shift volunteers told me that between 06:50 and 08:00 Laura was VERY active, flapping quite a lot on the ledge despite the steady rain. It sounded like it was going to be a nail-biting day for Falconwatchers! However, during the rest of the day Laura was only occasionally flapping on the ledge; overall, food drops were the most action we saw. Then, after the last meal delivery at 18:30, Laura’s activity level suddenly shot up again as she flapped and took leaps down the ledge. The composite picture, put together by Webmaster Charles, shows Laura travelling from the east end of the ledge half way down to Brock in one hop around 19:45 this evening. She seems to have no fear as she often stands with one or more toes curled over the edge. Falconwatchers were kept right on the edge of our seats as we waited to see if she would take her first flight! It didn’t happen today, but maybe tomorrow?

A note on feedings: Now-a-days the adults most often drop food off and let the chicks feed themselves. Laura, being older and more mobile, usually gets to the meal first and leaves Brock only leftovers. Madame X and Surge, being the amazing parents that they are, make sure that Brock gets enough by occasionally feeding him individually, then giving the rest to Laura after Brock has had his fill. That's what's happening in this photo, taken at 16:18 today.

GROWING UP BIT BY BIT

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: Madame X and Surge kept a close eye on the nest from the Standard Life building for a good portion of the morning. In the afternoon the chicks spent most of their time napping and trying to keep cool. Each adult took a turn hanging out at the nest too. There were a few food drops throughout the day, but the most substantial meal came at 18:00. Laura was clearly ready for it as she got really excited with wings flapping away, and Brock got in there too as can be seen in the picture. Overall there wasn't much excitement today, but Laura's bursts of flapping and helicoptering are lasting longer each day. Brock, showing much more brown colour and becoming much more stable on those big feet, may soon be spending more time on the ledge with Laura too!

ANOTHER QUIET DAY

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Today was a relatively quiet day at the nest, but don't be disappointed. An incident early this morning makes me think that it is the calm before the storm! Madame X caught a meal, but instead of sharing it with the juveniles she landed beside the camera, just out of reach, and proceeded to eat it all herself! It was almost as if she was telling the chicks, "Hey, look what I have. You want some? Sure, just fly over here and it's all yours." So be on the lookout everyone, first flights are coming soon! The picture, taken at 11:28 today, shows the youngsters close up. Laura's light coloured feathers have the expected golden tone. Brock will look like this in 10 days or so too.

HAPPY CANADA DAY!!

Monday, July 1, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: The morning and early afternoon were sleepy and uneventful for the chicks. The adults didn’t make many appearances at the nest but kept a close eye from nearby. On a couple of occasions they were seen chasing off perceived threats, including a Turkey Vulture that came too close to the Sheraton for their liking. At 14:15 both Madame X and Surge made a quick visit to the nest to drop off a meal. Laura and Brock each got part of it and at one point were simultaneously eating from the same piece of food. Looks like they have really learned how to share now! For a few minutes after this both adults showed some beautiful aerobatics over downtown Hamilton. Laura jumped onto the ledge and started flapping her wings as if to imitate them. Brock even joined in on the flapping affair too! Laura got VERY close to the edge, so close that one foot slipped off! Fortunately she recovered with only a slight waver and it didn’t seem to faze her at all. Surge and Madame X had some more excitement in the evening as they were seen making close passes at a lower floor of the Sheraton Hotel. We don’t know for sure what was bothering them, but hope it was only temporary. There were no more food drops, but in the evening both Laura and Brock snacked on some leftovers found in the nest. The picture shows how much Brock has grown compared to Laura.

NOT A LOT GOING ON!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Rachael Belford reports: Today started off with an early meal brought in by Surge and handed off to Madame X at 09:31. Laura looked as though she was supervising Brock's feeding as she sat close by and watched Brock get the majority of the food! Afterward Laura spent a good deal of time on the ledge flapping her wings, and then retired to the scrape around 10:30 to avoid the heat. Both parents turned up again around 13:00, just seeming to check in on the youngsters as no food drop occurred. The entire family spent the afternoon in the scrape, until another food drop around 15:40 pm. A final meal occurred just before 20:00, with Madame X alternately feeding both chicks. Today was mostly spent hiding from the sun under the brick overhang and napping! Laura spent more time on the ledge than Brock. Towards the end of the day both were sitting close together, one up and one down, watching the sunset! The picture of Laura flapping her wings also shows how brown she has become. There are still a lot of white feathers at the top of her legs, making it appear that she is wearing 'pantaloons'!

NO MORE MR. NICE GUY!

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: This morning started off with a meal delivery at 09:10, a morsel that Laura eagerly dug into. The next meal wasn't until 17:15. Surge dropped it off and flew to the Standard Life building to keep an eye on the proceedings. Laura started off monopolizing the meal, but after a couple minutes Brock came to take over the prize. No need to worry for Laura, though; there was still food left over for her after Brock was finished! During two food drops between 20:00 and 21:00 both Laura and Brock were individually fed but, as can be seen in the image, Brock still made his hunger known by jumping onto the ledge to get closer to the meal! In between eating, the chicks spent a lot of the day napping. Laura frequently moved between the nest and the ledge, where she would also take the opportunity to practice using her wings. There was even a bit of 'helicoptering' (air under her feet) at one point.

AND SO IT BEGINS!!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013 (evening) - Falconwatch Coordinator Cheryl Dobell reports: The first day of Falconwatch 2013 was a very wet one, to say the least! Both Laura and Brock spent most of the morning hunkered down in the nest trying to avoid the rain.  Madame X and Surge were close by too; at one point both could be seen taking a bath in a puddle on the Standard Life building. The first food drop came at 11:45 once the rain started to lighten. It was dry for the majority of the afternoon and Laura spent most of her time on the ledge preening, napping or just looking out over downtown Hamilton. Surge came with a second meal at 14:30. He carefully fed both Brock and Laura and then finished off the leftovers himself. At 17:15 there was a third food drop. Laura must not have been satisfied with the previous meal because she took the food and walked it to the east side of the nest where she attempted to rip it into bite-size pieces. Madame X followed right behind to help her. (The picture shows Laura charging past Brock with her prize.) After only a few minutes Madame X took off and let Laura fend for herself with the rest of the meal. Although it appeared that Brock verbally protested at being ignored during this feeding, it didn’t seem to bother him enough to make any effort to move towards the food source! The chicks then hunkered down for the evening as it started to rain again.

FALCONWATCH 2013 STARTS TODAY!!!

June 28, 2013 - Falconwatch 2013 gets underway at 9AM today when the Coordinator arrives for the first on-site monitoring session. This year, as last, we will have two Coordinators sharing the duties on alternate days. We are very pleased to introduce Rachael Belford and Cheryl Dobell.

Rachael Belford will be entering her fourth year of a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at Brock University in the fall of this year. She recently developed an interest in field work and animals through an animal behaviour class taken at Brock last year. Rachael has a lot of experience coordinating volunteers through Solidarity Experiences Abroad, an organization that sends university students to developing countries to volunteer in medical campaigns, construction projects and more. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work a little closer to home this summer, as well as gain some experience with our feathered friends.

Cheryl Dobell's passion for the outdoors and wildlife has seen her spend numerous summers leading youth on wilderness trips. She attended Cambrian College in Sudbury where she completed the Nature-based Adventure Tourism program. More recently she completed her Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Biology at Brock University. She has experience with the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas, as well as animal care experience working as an intern at Mountain View Conservation and Breeding Centre in British Columbia. Cheryl is excited to be working now with such an amazing species as the Peregrine Falcon.

Another significant event in the lives of our Peregrines took place yesterday morning. Madame X landed with food just after 11:35:03. Brock was on the ledge within ten seconds, in time to be in the next image captured!! While this isn't unusual, especially since Laura has been up on the ledge for a few days, it is important because it shows that Brock too is gaining confidence every day. In the picture, taken five minutes later after Madame X had finished feeding both chicks, it almost looks as if Brock is telling Laura, "See. I can do the ledge too!". Brock is also starting to show some dark colour as flight feathers begin to grow in. Stay tuned!

HERE WE GROW!!!

June 26, 2013 - The picture, taken at 20:10 this evening, shows how much shows Laura and Brock have grown in a week. Laura's dark flight and facial feathers are coming in nicely, while Brock is at the same stage of whiteness Laura had reached on banding day. That may sound strange, but it isn't - Brock today is the same age Laura was at banding, give or take a few hours. In another couple of days Brock's flight feathers will start pushing out the down feathers; pretty soon the only way to tell the two apart will be by size.

Falconwatch 2013 will get going in earnest this Friday when our Coordinators start their 9AM to 9PM shifts. Next Tuesday, July 2, Falconwatch volunteers will take to the streets, starting with the 5AM to 7AM shift. Volunteers are still needed. If you want to help out, please click on the Volunteer! button above and see how to go about it.

HEY HAMILTON! LOOK AT ME!!!!

June 23, 2013 - After thinking about it for quite a while, at 17:50 yesterday afternoon Laura literally made the jump to the next stage of growing up, being on the upper metal flashing of the nest ledge and seeing the City of Hamilton for the first time. This is the moment that Falconwatchers both want to see and dread at the same time, because the dangers to the chicks increase, a lot. The dark lines on her sides are the edges of her juvenile flight feathers, which are growing in nicely. The same dark lines are showing up on Brock too. Viewers will be surprised at how quickly the white down disappears. Stay tuned!

2013 BANDING VIDEO!

This video, recorded by our webmaster on June 18th, shows highlights from the half hour banding session that afternoon. Running length is 9 minutes. Please note that the chicks can squawk quite loudly at times. Much louder than the people speaking. So be ready to adjust the volume from time to time. It may take a few seconds for the video to start after clicking 'play'. This video is also accesible via a link on the website Gallery page.

BANDS! NAMES! EXTRA PEREGRINE!

June 19, 2013: With major help from climbers John Millar and Chris Phinney, who had to fend off a very aggressive Madame X, around 15:00 yesterday the two chicks were collected from the nest ledge and brought into a reception area graciously provided by the Sheraton Hotel where they were weighed, gendered, banded and named. Anne Yagi of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) first attached an aluminum US Fish and Wildlife Service band with a unique number by which it can be identified in future. Next, a plastic band with a large letter and numeral was put on the other leg. Finally, a piece of coloured plastic tape was placed over the metal band. The plastic band and coloured tape, which can be seen much more easily through binoculars and telescopes than the numbers on the metal band, will make it a bit easier for Falconwatchers to identify the birds during the fledging period.

Our theme for bird names this year is "Heroes and Heroines of the War of 1812". Chick No. 1 (left) weighed in at 858 grams, clearly a female, and was named "Laura" for Laura Secord. Chick No. 2 (right)was named "Brock", for General Brock. Brock weighed in at 422 grams, well in the low part of the weight range for a male, but being only 19 days old there is some doubt as to gender. We will have a better idea on that in about two weeks. (No. 2 would have been named "Tecumseh" but we learned that a Peregrine chick at Windsor, Ontario was given that name a few weeks ago and we try not to have two birds with the same name.) Pictures of the banding are now available for viewing! Click here to View the 2013 Banding Gallery (opens a new window).

As the chicks were being returned to the nest Falconwatch volunteers keeping an eye on the adults from the roof of the Sheraton suddenly noticed that a third Peregrine, a smaller adult male as far as could be determined, was in the immediate area. Surge moved quickly to head off this bird and Madame X abandoned her swoops at climber Chris Phinney to help Surge. After the intruder was "encouraged" well away from the hotel Madame X immediately dived back to give Chris more attention until he lowered himself well below the nest ledge. She then landed in the ledge and stayed with the chicks for a long time, protecting them while the ropes were removed. All is well this morning. In the picture at left, taken at 07:58, Surge has just brought in food and handed it off to Madame X, who is preparing it for the chicks which can just be seen behind her.

COMPANY COMING!

June 18, 2013 - In the picture, taken at 06:18 today, Madame X is giving Chick No. 2 breakfast. Around 15:00 this afternoon 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.

I WANT TO BE LIKE THEM!

June 15, 2013 - The pictures, taken at 15:25 yesterday, show the adults very closely eyeing something in the sky and then, a few seconds later, the whole family close together in the nest ledge. The occasion was a pass over downtown Hamilton by the Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds Aerobatic Team, who are in town for the Hamilton Airshow today and tomorrow. They may appear over the city again on either day. Chick No. 1 looks as though he is saying, "I want to be like them." Pretty soon he/she will be.

TOGETHERNESS

June 14, 2013 - The youngsters continue to do well. In the picture, taken yesterday at 09:25, if looks as if No. 1 is sharing a bit of food with No. 2. Are they female and male? We won't know until banding takes place next week, and even then may be a bit unsure. Gender is determined mainly by a combination of weight and age. Females are always larger and therefore heavier. However, a few birds thought to be male in the past have turned out to be female, and occasionally vice versa. We'll see. Stay tuned!

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

June 12, 2013 - Although it may look that way in the photo, No, Chick No. 1 is not suddenly as tall as Madame X. It's partly an optical illusion, partly the fact that X's lower end is sitting in the scrape which, as we know, is pretty deep. By the time they fledge the chicks will be as tall as the adults, but that's a few weeks away.

We've been asked what will happen to the non-viable eggs. It's hard to say. On previous occasions they have usually disappeared, but one year a non-viable egg was recovered during banding and sent for analysis. One thing we know for sure - if a non-viable egg breaks the area becomes quite unpleasant to the nose, possibly until the next rain. Stay tuned for news on banding.

LET'S TIDY UP HERE A BIT!!!

June 10, 2013 - In one of the funniest photo sequences ever captured in 15 years of having a camera on the Sheraton Hamilton nest, around 10:37 this morning Chick No. 1, completely under its own power, moved one of the non-viable eggs out from under the brick overhang and down toward the centre of the ledge! The two photos at left show some of the action. Notice the size of the feet. You will see more of them.

The two youngsters seem to be doing well. Chick No. 1 was exercising its wings today and Chick No. 2's beak has started to turn its normal blue. Viewers concerned about their relative sizes should first compare images of Chick No. 2 today with those of Chick No. 1 when he/she was the same age. Stay tuned!

IT'S ALL ABOUT FOOD

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - Although vertical growth of the chicks is often not easy to judge at this stage because they don't often 'stand up straight', it is easy to tell if they are eating. The pink bulge in Chick No. 1's throat in the picture is its crop, a part of a bird's throat that stretches to hold a larger amount of food than the bird can swallow at once. Over time food moves down from the crop and into the stomach, and as it does the crop bulge becomes smaller and smaller. The large crop on No. 1 is a good sign. The picture was taken yesterday at 07:27. Stay tuned!

THAT'S ALL SHE WROTE?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - Well, it looks as though we will only have two chicks this year. Another is possible, but it is rapidly growing ever more unlikely. While that may sound as though Falconwatchers will have an easy time of it, it isn't necessarily so. The last time we had just two chicks to fledge was in 2007, when two of the four hatched chicks died of a respiratory tract infection. The other two did fledge, but only after a great many adventures. Time will tell. The picture, captured yesterday at 14:37, shows the clear size difference between our two little ones. This is not a problem - the adults will feed each equally and at times may even give the smaller one additional food. If Chick No. 1 turns out to be female and Chick No. 2 is male, they could even start to fly around the same time. Stay tuned. The adventure has begun!

FALCONWATCH INFORMATION WINDOW UPDATED!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013 - While waiting and hoping for Chick No. 3, Falconwatch viewers may be interested to know that our display window in Jackson Square Mall has been updated. As can be seen at left, in addition to the text and photo updates and the large TV monitor showing a live video feed of the nest ledge from Camera #1, our Technical Guru Charles has now set up a pair of smaller computer monitors. The left monitor shows a full-screen display of still photos from Camera #2, while the right monitor shows a column of four of the most recent 'favorites' and the Falconwatch News. Both 'refresh' periodically so viewers at the window will normally be seeing the same information as viewers at home. The window is located in the front aisle of the Jackson Square 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 110 King St. West. Stay tuned - we will update as soon as we can if anything changes in the next ledge.

LONESOME NO MORE!!

Friday, May 31, 2013 - Around 05:47 this morning Madame X took a break, allowing the camera to clearly see that Chick No. 2 had arrived. Judging from the relatively tidy condition of the second youngster's feathers, it was hatched several hours before. The photo at left is the first view available - the two remaining eggs and pieces of No. 2's shell can also be seen; the one at right shows them about two hours later, moved more into the centre of the scrape and cuddling up. Stay tuned!!

WAITING FOR CHICK No. 2

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - With the remaining three eggs still well within the normal 35-40 day hatching window, Falconwatchers are eagerly waiting for the appearance of Chick No. 2. The two photos show Chick No. 1 getting its first taste of rain at 07:41 this morning, and Surge looking after the little one at 15:46 yesterday afternoon.

HELLO HAMILTON!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013 - The photos show Chick No. 1 at two different times yesterday, at 08:43 on the left and six hours later on the right. Viewers new to young Peregrines will be amazed at how fast these little creatures grow. Stay tuned. We are waiting for Chick No. 2.

FIRST CHICK OF 2013!!!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013 @ 21:00 - The first chick of 2013 hatched around 19:00 this evening. The exact time may be hard to determine because of shadows in the nest ledge. The chick is the white spot behind the egg at far right in the picture, taken at 20:18. It doesn't exactly look like a fluffball, but that will soon change. The broken shell from which the chick emerged is at the left of the image. Here we go again!!!

GETTING CLOSER

Friday, May 24, 2013 - We are getting close to finding out if this year's nesting will be successful. The image at left shows Madame X with the four eggs at 10:48 this morning. The signs are good - the eggs are being turned and 'listened' to every 15-20 minutes, and she has also been incubating all morning without Surge taking over, even for a short while. All we can do now is stand by and look for a white fluffball to appear.

STAYING THE COURSE

Friday, May 17, 2013 - This just has to be the most boring time for Madame X and Surge, who continue to take turns performing their duties with the eggs. Knowing what is about to come, however, perhaps it is good that the adults have a little quiet time. If all goes well, sometime next week their lives will become very busy, with 24-hour a day feedings and/or watching. The image at left shows Surge with the eggs earlier this morning. The white line on the second egg from the right is not a crack. It appears to be a feather that has been blown there by the wind.

THE WAITING GAME - NEWS ABOUT DURAND

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - Madame X and Surge continue to take turns brooding the eggs, turning them regularly with their talons and beaks. In the image at left Madame X is giving the eggs a little air earlier this morning. The image at right shows Surge paying his mate a visit on Tuesday. If all goes well we should be seeing little white fluffballs in about 12-14 days.

After two unsuccessful seasons Durand, one of our 2009 fledges, has successfully hatched her first chick. Use the link on our History page to see the chick and get up-to-date news.

SETTLING IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

May 5, 2013 - 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, usually 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, in the left photo, has a well speckled upper chest, while Surge's chest (right) is almost pure white. You can also see the difference in size between these two. Female raptors are always 25-35% larger than males.

DOTING PARENTS

May 2, 2013 - In the image at left, taken at 15:16 Monday, Surge (on the ledge) and Madame X seem to be either admiring the four eggs, or counting them, perhaps both. The two adults are taking regular turns on incubation duty, which not only involves keeping the eggs warm but also means turning them often to distribute the heat evenly. Mother Nature at her best!

CATCHING UP ON THE NEWS

April 29, 2013 - After a relatively quiet and somewhat warmer weekend Madame X and Surge seem to have settled in nicely to look after the four eggs. The fourth egg actually arrived last Thursday afternoon; the image at far left was taken at 18:00 that day. In the image at near left, taken at 06:12 this morning, Surge has just arrived and is standing above the eggs while Madame X prepares to get a little fresh air. If the fourth egg is the last - we hope - things may even get a bit boring for several weeks. Stay tuned!

FOUR ON THE FLOOR!!

April 26, 2013 - Although Falconwatchers were pretty sure at 06:30 this morning that a fourth egg had been laid overnight, it took until 14:39 this afternoon to get the very clear image at left, which resulted from a shift change when Surge took over from Madame X. It's still a long road to successfully fledging chicks, so we will keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Stay tuned!

PROUD MOMMA

April 24, 2013 - What do you think Madame X is saying to us in the image at left, taken at 11:46 yesterday. "Schedule, Shmedule" or "If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em" or "I'll do it my way" or, perhaps most likely, "You doubted me?" Whatever she is saying or thinking, there's no doubt that she's pretty happy with the way things have turned out so far. It's a long road to successfully fledging chicks, so we will keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Stay tuned!

THREE!!!!

April 23, 2013 - The image at left was captured at 09:09 this morning. A picture is worth a thousand words so we don't really need to tell anyone that there are now THREE eggs in the nest. Things are positively looking up. Stay tuned!

TWO EGGS!!!!

April 20, 2013 - At 9:55 this morning Madame X looked up at the camera and proudly showed two eggs. She quickly covered them up in the face of today's unusually cold temperatures and high winds. Both adults continue to take turns on incubation duty. Things are looking up. Stay tuned!.

STILL JUST ONE EGG

April 19, 2013 - Madame X and Surge have made the scrape so deep this year that it is very hard to spot the egg, but the brown spot just below centre in the picture at left is it. As in previous years, both adults are taking turns on incubating duty. We continue to monitor the situation and hope to see a second egg soon.

FIRST EGG OF 2013!!!!!!!

April 17, 2013 - Sometime between 10:30 and 10:55 this morning Madame X laid her first egg of the year!!!! The image at left, taken at 11:03, shows Madame X with the egg, which is about 4 inches/10 cm long.

At 11:07 Surge visited Madame X at the nest ledge. Falconwatchers are hopeful that more eggs will follow and that all will go well. Stay tuned!

WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE NEST?

April 13, 2013 - Like all Hamilton Falconwatchers, HCPP Volunteers are disappointed that we haven't seen eggs in the scrape yet, even though we are past Madame X's usual egg laying date. We are not sure why - several factors may be involved.

Timing - this can be variable. In 1995 the Sheraton Peregrines did not lay eggs until June.

Weather - so far this spring we have not had as many warm periods as we usually have, but Madame X has laid and incubated eggs in colder temperatures than we have experienced in the last few weeks.

Disturbance - there is a significant construction job underway across the street. While street and construction noise does not seem to disturb the Peregrines, on weekdays a large construction crane is active in the air near the nest site.

Madame X's age - Few Peregrines in the wild live to be fourteen years of age, which Madame X will reach next month. While all normal pre-breeding activities - pairing up after the winter and resuming occupation of the nesting territory, preparation of the scrape, food offerings and mating - have been observed this spring, Madame X could be nearing the end of her breeding career. If this is the case, she might stay on her territory for one or more years, or she could be replaced at any time by a younger female.

Where does this leave us? We - the Hamilton Falconwatch team and you - can only continue to wait, observe and hope. Only time will tell. Thanks very much for your ongoing interest and support.

I'M WATCHING YOU TOO!!

April 8, 2013 - With the warmer weather Madame X has been spending more time on and in the nest ledge. In the picture at left, taken at 10:30 today, she seems to have an "I'm watching you too!" look on her face. Surge is till staying close. He's on the nest ledge almost as often as Madame X. Stay tuned!

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!

April 4, 2013 - Still no action on the egg laying front, even though Madame X has spent the last two nights in the scrape. Although she has incubated eggs in temperatures such as we have had this week, this usually came after eggs were laid when things were a bit warmer. Perhaps she has decided it's too cold to start the process? We'll see. In the meantime Surge keeps close. The picture at left shows the pair at 06:50 yesterday, just after he brought her breakfast

NO EASTER EGG (YET)!

April 1, 2013 - The adults have been back and forth to, in and out of the nest ledge on a fairly regular basis. No eggs so far, but there's still lots of time. The picture at left of a smart looking Madame X was taken this morning at 10:00.

Please note:

a) 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 110 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.

b) A complete update of information known about chicks fledged in previous years from the Sheraton nest has just been posted on our History page (click on the button above right).

ROOM (LEDGE?) SERVICE!

March 31, 2013 - The pair bond between Madame X and Surge has been quite evident this week. A nice example of this occurred at 17:03 yesterday when Surge landed on the west end of the nest ledge with what appeared to be a prepared meal, a portion of a prey item as opposed to a complete one. Whether Madame X had been sitting on the camera or flew in from the east to meet him is uncertain, but within seconds she landed on the ledge and went to get the food, resulting in the image at left. No eggs yet, but it should happen soon. Keep watching this page!

GETTING CLOSE!!

March 26, 2013 - The photo at left shows Madame X and Surge together in the nest ledge at 10:09 today. In the last two days the pair have spent a lot of time in the nest and on the ledges. Based on our experience this kind of activity, and the fact that we are in the average time frame for laying of the first egg of the year, means that we are getting close. From now until we believe that all 2013 eggs have been laid one camera will be focused in tightly on the scrape. Stay tuned!!

LOOKING GOOD!!

March 24, 2013 - The photo at left shows Madame X visiting the nest ledge a few days ago. Falconwatchers check close-ups such as this carefully to gauge the physical condition of the adults. As can be seen in the picture, from the sharp triangular "moustache" and streaking and evenly coloured blue-gray back, she appears to be in excellent health. We are fortunate that Madame X has returned for her thirteenth year and Surge for his eighth. (Where DO the years go?) Next step - eggs. Stay tuned.

DIGGING IN

March 20, 2013 - Around 16:00 Monday Surge and Madame X took turns digging in the corner of the nest ledge, a clear sign that they are getting ready for eggs. The image at left shows Madame X almost disappearing in the scrape. Since 2005 the first egg has appeared as early as March 26 and as late as April 5, but most often around March 29. We are getting close!

TOGETHERNESS!!

March 16, 2013 - As the normal end of March egg laying-time approaches, Falconwatchers look for signs that the adult birds are spending more time together. The image at left, taken March 13 at 09:14, shows Madame X and Surge sharing a meal on the Sheraton nest ledge. We often refer to the difference in size between female and male Peregrines, with females always being larger. Here Madame X, on the left, is clearly much bigger than Surge. The first egg of 2013 is expected within 10-14 days. Stay tuned!

WON'T BE LONG NOW!!

March 6, 2013 - Our internet link was turned on last night and viewers are now seeing LIVE photos from the Sheraton Hamilton Peregrine Falcon nest. The composite photo at left was put together by Webmaster Charles as he was setting things up. At upper left you can see both Surge and Madame X in the nest ledge this morning at 06:40. At right is a great face-on shot of Surge. How do we know it's Surge? The lower left section of the photo shows his leg bands. We were able to read the numbers and confirm his identity. Falconwatch 2013 is getting under way!

PEREGRINE DINES AT CAFETERIA!

February 6, 2013 - The photo at left was sent to us by Joanne Minogue, who spotted this Peregrine dining on a pigeon, just outside the cafeteria entrance of the Hamilton General Hospital. Based on the facial markings, the bird may be Surge, though there is also a chance that this is a falcon from the pair nesting on the Burlington lift bridge.

A NEW YEAR BEGINS!!!!!!

January 31, 2013 - It is still a few months until Madame X and Surge begin nesting atop the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, but already we have reports of them defending their territory from incursions by other raptors. Positive identification of the birds will be made closer to nesting time, but for now we are presuming that we still have our old resident pair, Madame X, back for her thirteenth year, and Surge, back for his eighth season.

In 2012 Madame X and Surge hatched three chicks, all boys - Beckett (682 grams), Felker (671 grams) and Tiffany, who weighed in at a trim 641 grams. All named for Hamilton waterfalls. All three birds flew strongly on their first flights, and quickly mastered the skies without need for any rescues. You can read more about their exploits in the History section.

Last year was an exceptional one for webcam photos, with our first-ever live capture of the moment of first flight (for Beckett). The new camera installed in 2010 (funded by a generous grant from the TD-Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Fund) was used to maximum effect, resulting in some amazing close-ups, and photos of activities on nearby rooftops.

Our FalconCams will be reactivated in early March (once again, with the generous support of Worldline/ Fibernetics), and we will be on the lookout for courting and nesting behaviour. We can expect to see eggs in late March or early April.

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 nineteenth 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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