Hamilton Falconwatch News

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Friday July17, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The morning began very quietly. It appeared that McMaster had gone on an early adventure while Barton stayed back on the BDC logo. At 06:18 Barton took off and I had no chicks in sight. At 06:25 I spotted a bird flying from the southeast towards the Stelco tower. As I was observing this, another came on the scene and both landed on the BDC roof. McMaster was on the northwest corner and Barton on the southwest corner. The morning continued with long periods when I could no longer see the sisters and then, eventually, spotting them on a roof or in the air.

At 17:00 the chicks were out of sight again and Lily was relaxing on the "B" of the BDC sign. At 17:26, as Lily was taking off, I saw a chick flying south of BDC towards the escarpment. I soon lost sight of all the birds. At 18:25 both chicks landed on the BDC logo, not giving me a chance to see where they came from. It seemed like the escarpment was their evening destination as they were constantly landing on the BDC building without me seeing them fly around. At 19:23 both youngsters took off once again, circled the Sheraton Hotel then headed east, and not surprisingly I lost sight of them once more. Around 20:00 they were both flying above and around City Hall. Their flights were a little bit lower than usual and it looked like they were after food. Things got quiet as the sun went down.

Falconwatch 2015 has ended. The nest ledge cameras will be kept on to monitor the falcons when they return to the Sheraton. We will be watching through the fall and beyond to see if Lily and Ossie stay for the winter as Madame X and Surge did. Thank you to everyone, once again, who was part of this year's Falconwatch. We now have two more healthy female Peregrine Falcons that will very soon become adults!

If you have not already made a donation to Falconwatch, it is never too late to do so. The Coordinartors 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. Please click on the yellow 'DONATE button above to learn more about what the money is used for and how to make a tax creditable donation. We and the birds Thank You!


Thursday July 16, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The chicks decided to visit the nest this morning. At 06:05 both were there, squawking quite a bit and requesting breakfast. A bit later they returned to their favourite roof, the BDC. What seemed to be a quiet morning turned into an exciting one at 06:45. While both youngsters were on the BDC logo, hiding from the sun, a pigeon flew by the building, way below where the falcons were. McMaster went after it, and shortly after Barton joined in. I lost sight of them behind Fairclough, but when both birds landed on the ledge under the "r" of the Sheraton sign McMaster was certainly holding something. Barton tried to get it from her but got kicked out of the ledge by her sister. Shortly after McMaster took off, flying around the Sheraton towards Stelco. Barton met her mid-way and, after lots of talon touching, successfully took the meal from McMaster. It was a great scene to watch - both youngsters flying together, holding on to the same pigeon. Finally Barton let go, and McMaster headed south towards the escarpment, not to be seen again until 08:15 when I found her napping on the southwest corner of BDC. Barton, meanwhile, flew back to the nest ledge where she stayed for over three hours, allowing the camera to capture this great picture of her.

When I came back at 17:00, there was no sign of either chick. Lily, however, was on the southwest corner of BDC. Barton flew in from the south at 18:30 and landed on the BDC logo, but I didn't spot her sister until 19:01, when McMaster joined her on the northwest corner of BDC. It looked like the chicks had done some exploring. Later in the evening, as it got cooler, more flights were made. Closer to 21:00 the girls were getting pretty loud, sounding as they wanted dinner. Perhaps Lily is going to take a break and let them get some food.


Wednesday July 15, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The sisters woke up this morning full of energy! As I walked to the Stelco tower, ready to start the day at 05:30, both birds were flying around the building practicing talon touching and then heading north. At 06:05 three birds were flying above the Standard Life building, and I was wondering if the adult was going to take the girls on an adventure. They did head north until they were out of my sight, but minutes later I spotted the youngsters chasing a pigeon around the Sheraton Hotel. Finally, at 08:30 both of them decided to take a break and landed on the northwest BDC roof corner. Meanwhile Lily was observing the people working on the Fairclough building, making sure her girls would be safe. At 08:50 Lily went after a pigeon, and a minute later landed on the CIBC roof where she started prepping breakfast. The chicks soon joined her and eventually took over the food.

This evening was calmer. McMaster was on the BDC logo at 17:05 but Barton was not around. At 17:30 Lily once again landed on the southwest corner of the 24th floor of Stelco, watching as men continued to work on the Fairclough roof. Minutes later Barton was flying around and above the Stelco tower. Close to 18:00 both chicks were in the air doing “touch and gos” - landing somewhere and quickly taking off again. Eventually by 18:23 both were on the BDC logo enjoying the shade. It seemed like the sisters kept moving with the sun; it was a very sunny evening after all. By 19:53 both youngsters had taken off again headed north and were out of my sight. Around 20:30 a chick landed on the northwest corner of the BDC but her sister was still adventuring. Who knows, maybe she wanted to catch dinner herself! More adventures to come!


Tuesday July 14, 2014 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: At dawn McMaster and Barton were on the northwest corner of the BDC roof. Around 06:00 Lily flew to the north side of this roof with a small meal, prepped it, and then dropped it right where the chicks were standing. After breakfast, both chicks went exploring. They headed southwest, flying high and far from where I was watching, until I completely lost sight of them. At 06:45 McMaster landed back on the northeast corner of BDC; Barton was later spotted on the southwest corner. The long trip had not tired them, though. At 06:50 the pair started flying around the Sheraton-BDC area, practicing talon touching. For the rest of the morning the sisters spent a lot of time on the BDC roof or flying around BDC. The rain, heavy at times, certainly did not stop them from having fun.

At 17:00 two birds were seen flying, once again southwest, until they were out of sight. A couple of minutes later Lily landed on the north BDC logo with some food which had already been prepped. Mom sat alone next to the food and waited for the girls to come back for dinner. This didn't happen until 18:30, when McMaster landed on the logo and Lily finally took off. Barton, on the other hand, was not seen until 19:30. The chicks spent the rest of the evening flying around, and decided on a change of scenery by spending some time on the Stelco roof. At 19:51 I had a lovely surprise - Barton came visit me on the southwest corner of the 24th floor of Stelco. She is certainly a unique Peregrine Falcon, with beautiful golden stripes on her head! It was very satisfying to see her so healthy and grown up! At 20:34 Lily brought dinner briefly to the Sheraton and then shortly after was moved to BDC where both chicks fought for it. In the picture Lily is just taking off with the meal while McMaster and Barton watch. The girls will most likely explore the city even more tomorrow!


Monday July 15 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The morning started off with a feast! At 05:40 Lily dropped a HUGE meal on the north BDC logo where both chicks were standing. I personally had not seen such a big meal in the last three weeks. Due to its size, the chicks did not have any issues sharing until it got reduced to half. Then Barton and McMaster both tried taking the meal from each other, flapping their wings to help pull. Lily wasn't invited and flew to the nest at around 06:05. The meal was so large that by 07:00 the chicks were still eating. Barton decided she had had enough and flew away at 07:05, leaving McMaster still eating. Finally, at 07:18 McMaster was full and decided to join her sister on the "c" of the west BDC sign where there was shade. Lily took advantage of this and went looking for what was left of the meal, which didn't seem much from my view, but she definitely found some good scraps. The girls, as expected, did not have a very active morning. They flew around BDC a couple of times but mostly looked for shade.

In the evening Barton and McMaster were again on BDC, Barton on the north logo and McMaster on the northeast corner of the roof. They moved around quite a bit, but mostly landed back on the same building making my job pretty easy. At 18:10 some talon touching was seen. Later on the chicks decided to explore a bit more and take longer flights. At 19:00 McMaster was spotted under the "S" of the Sheraton Hotel sign with a small meal. I had lost sight of her for a couple of minutes, so as I did not see any adults around it is possible she caught it herself! Barton joined her at 19:47, allowing us to get this picture. Later on, the girls returned to their now favourite roof, BDC, and stayed to enjoy the sunset from there.


Sunday, July 12, 2015 – Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: The sisters were up very early this morning! By 05:45 they were already circling in the skies around BDC. Today, McMaster and Barton started to go on long flights away from home! They flew out of sight and finally reappeared at 06:45, chasing each other and squawking. McMaster landed on the west side of BDC, while Barton continued to fly east past the First Place building. McMaster didn’t stay long on BDC without her sister, and soon followed in pursuit. It wasn’t until 07:55 that I saw them again, flying together. They were likely tired from the long flights, because by 08:05 both birds had settled down on BDC.

This afternoon when I returned, I found Barton alone on BDC. She soon took flight, soaring high in the sky and disappeared out of sight above Stelco. At 17:35, Lily appeared on the nest ledge and stayed there until 20:05 when Barton flew in. She appeared to be eating a scrap of meat. These two images show front and back views of Barton. It appears that she has managed to remove the yellow tape placed on her right leg on banding day (leading to some confusion on the part of the website text editor). Barton then flew to BDC, Fairclough, Stelco and back to the BDC. She stayed on the northwest corner of BDC until almost 21:00, eating a large meal by herself. I don’t know if she got the meal herself or not. McMaster, on the other hand, did not make an appearance at this time. Perhaps she went off exploring or even hunting? It’s clear that the girls have become increasingly independent and are spending more time away from home. As sad as this is for us Falconwatchers, it means the girls are growing up!


Saturday, July 10, 2015 – Falconwatch Coordinator Laura reports: When I arrived at 05:30 this morning I found McMaster and Barton snuggled up together on the north side of BDC. By 06:00, both were up and stretching. Barton flew off and didn’t reappear until 07:20. When she came back, she flew around BDC trying to get McMaster to join her; the pair then flew off together, flipping and talon touching. The sisters flew together for over ten minutes, going so far away from the Sheraton that they were barely visible using binoculars. McMaster, shown at left in my drawing, doesn’t fly as much as her sister, and again today she landed long before her sibling. Barton, on the other hand, flew south to chase a pigeon! Hunting lessons have begun!

During the evening shift, the sisters were again nestled together on BDC, shaded from the hot sun. Barton took off first, soon followed by McMaster, and they spent some time on Stelco with their parents. At 18:40 both birds flew off westbound and out of sight. It wasn’t until 19:35 that I saw Barton on the BDC, and she was still there, pancaked on the west side, when I left. McMaster hadn’t returned from her flight. I’m excited to find out what the sisters will do tomorrow!


Friday July 10, 2015 - Falconwatch coordinator Lucia Jara reports: McMaster and Barton decided to take it easy today, especially as the day got warmer and warmer. The chicks were not very happy to see people again doing work on the Fairclough building, and preferred not to fly until they knew it would be safe to take off. Finally at 13:30 they got restless and took to the blue skies for a few trips around the area. It had been a while since we'd seen them fly independently from each other. Barton took the lead and got her wings going much earlier than her sister. McMaster did not fly often and mainly relaxed in the shade under the BDC west roof. At 15:53 an adult brought some food to that location. Barton immediately grabbed the meal and started eating. McMaster was too tired and hot to fight and did not show any interest whatsoever.

Throughout the afternoon the chicks remained quiet and cool on the BDC building. Close to 17:00 they both took some easy flights, but they were just waiting for the sun to move out of their way. At 19:30 they made it up for the rest of the day, with lots of talon touching and some flights accompanied by an adult. Lily brought dinner at 19:43 and this time McMaster was in charge, but not for too long. The food was shared between then pair, each holding on to a part until it was completely gone. Later on they continued to practice their talon touching and enjoying the cool evening after such a hot summer day. The picture shows Lily and Barton visiting the nest ledge together right before we were leaving. Lots of squawking was heard! It was nice to see one of the teenage girls back at their first home.

The all day street watch has come to an end and I want to thank everyone who came out and helped us keep an eye on these two beautiful chicks. It's wonderful to see such passionate volunteers work as a team and I am very thankful I got the chance to work with all of you. The city of Hamilton is lucky to have you as citizens and guardians of their downtown Peregrine Falcon nest. You should all feel proud of yourselves!

Laura and I will continue to report daily for at least the next week.


Thursday July 9, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: No birds were in sight when our volunteers arrived at 05:00. At 06:58 both chicks suddenly appeared near the Stelco building and flew to the roof of the south Fairclough stairwell. Exactly a half hour later, at 07:28, Ossie brought breakfast. McMaster and Barton instantly joined him and shared the food. Later on it got a bit stressful, especially for the parents, as there were people on the Fairclough building working. When they appeared the chicks flew to the northwest side of the Stelco grating. Lily became REALLY loud and flew in circles around the men, but as time passed the adults settled down to just keeping an eye on the workers. At 10:22, as it started to rain more heavily, the youngsters flew to the north face of Stelco, making it extremely hard for everyone to keep an eye on them. As soon as the rain ended the chicks took off to do some talon touching. They were very active for about an hour, flying further and further away and very high, until Lily brought food to the "e" of the Sheraton. After Lily prepped the meal and had a bite or two, McMaster took over. When McMaster was completely satisfied, Barton had a chance to get some as well.

Around 14:30 both chicks got very active again, taking off together and practicing talon touching. The flights were long and it looked like they were catching some pretty sweet thermals as we barely saw any flapping. Later on, as the day got even warmer, they decided to rest on the BDC logo and roof. Ossie posed for a picture when he visited the nest ledge for 10 minutes at 16:35. Lily made a last drop of food at 20:25 on the west BDC logo. At first it looked like the chicks were fighting over the meal, but after a while they were both eating at the same time. It seems like the girls have grown up so fast. Looking forward to their first hunting sessions.

Thanks once more to the volunteers who came out today. We need full coverage for another few days, so all help is greatly appreciated.

Tomorrow, Friday, is the last day of the full on-street volunteer Falconwatch. Starting Saturday, for at least a week, the Coordinator will be on site every day from 05:30 to 09:30 and then later from 17:00 to 21:00 keeping an eye on the youngsters as they progress to being fully fledged. The Coordinators will continue to report on the Peregrines every day.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: Today was a relatively quiet day for our birds. They spent the morning around the Stelco tower, moving between window ledges on different floors. At 08:55 a parent flew in with food to the Fairclough building's upper level and the fledglings immediately flew there as well. At first the adult was feeding only one, but soon both chicks took over the food and were seen playing tug-of-war with it! After quickly finishing the meal, the girls stayed on Fairclough for several hours. Barton tucked herself right against the north wall, away from sight. McMaster did the same, but after an hour flew over to the south side of Stelco. Barton joined her later. Just before 13:30, one of the girls was circling around Stelco, trying to convince the other to join her. Eventually she succeeded and both were in the air, flying around all the buildings and talon touching.

The picture shows both adults in the nest ledge at 14:16, occupied with what appeared to be digging. This "maintenance" is a normal thing the adults do after the youngsters leave the nest. It was soon interrupted when a maintenance worker was spotted on Fairclough. The parents quickly flew around that building, squawking angrily until the worker left. While this was going on the sisters watched from the south west corner of Stelco, where they stayed for the next three hours.

At 17:00 the pair took off again and flew for the longest time so far! McMaster landed after ten minutes in the air, and Barton after fifteen. Partway through their flight, a parent even came to join them! It was breath-taking to watch the birds flip and dive in the air. For the remainder of the evening, the sisters switched between perching on Stelco's northwest and southwest corners and flying together. When we left, one of the sisters was on Stelco and one had flown to the west BDC logo.

Thanks once more to the volunteers who came out today. We need full coverage for another few days, so all help is greatly appreciated.


Tuesday July 7, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: Today we had an exciting morning that included a possible midair transfer of food from an adult to a chick! McMaster carried the meal to the Fairclough building and ate almost all of it while Barton watched. The two youngsters did quite a bit of flying together in the early morning when it was still cool. At 09:30 both landed on the west face of Fairclough, and 30 minutes later they decided it was the right spot to pancake and rest. As it got sunnier they moved further into the roof and kept napping. At 10:55 they decided to do some more flying and they flew around the Sheraton area buildings for almost 20 minutes, over and over practicing their talon touching technique. Around 11:30 Barton visited the nest ledge briefly and we were able to capture this picture of her. By noon the air had gotten extremely humid and warm and they decided to take a break on BDC. At 14:34 an adult brought food to the north BDC logo. Barton quickly flew there and the adult took off. McMaster tried several times to land where her sister was but did not succeed. Barton had this entire meal for herself and didn't share a single bit.

At 15:45 the chicks decided it was time for more action, and the aerobatics and talon touching began once more. After that, both landed on the northwest corner of BDC and shortly after it started to rain. With the rain they decided not to move much except for some flapping once in a while. At 18:00 they took off and again lots of talon touching was seen.

Later, a chick was seen chasing a Turkey Vulture and shortly after that chasing a gull, the first time we have seen a chick do this! Soon after this one youngster was seen flying next to an adult, and both landed right next to the other chick on the east face of Fairclough. As soon as the adult landed it took off, leaving a huge meal behind for the sisters to munch on. This time they shared the meal. Neither Barton nor McMaster would let go of the big fat pigeon Lily had delivered, so they both held on to it and ate until it was completely gone. After such a huge meal, they became quite inactive. I could see that their bellies and throats were completely full. Later in the evening they both jumped further inside the upper Fairclough roof and snoozed on a piece of cloth. As we were leaving one of the chicks flew to the BDC logo, which has become a favourite spot. More action to come!

Thanks once more to the volunteers who came out today. We need full coverage for another few days, so all help is greatly appreciated.


Monday July 6, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The day started off with an early 05:30 breakfast on the north BDC logo, which has been previously used by the parents as a place to bring meals. Barton and McMaster seemed a bit tired as the day got hotter and more humid. At 09:20 they were both pancacked next to each other having a snooze on the west Fairclough roof, with both adults watching them from the Stelco tower. When one youngster woke up and went exploring further inside the roof, the other followed. They were really enjoying each other's company, just like the previous day At 11:00 the chicks decided to take off again. It seems like they both really enjoy the beautiful view they must get from the Stelco roof, as they spent a fair amount of their time on its different faces and even on the upper grating. This made it a bit tricky for everyone; as they were right above me I could not keep an eye on them, and some of their locations could not be seen from the ground either.

During the rest of the day they flew together often, and we all had to keep moving in order to keep them in sight. We even got to see the two practice their talon touching skills!! Both of the chicks seemed to have a great time anytime they flew, and so did we watching them interact with each other. Lily, who had visited the nest ledge earlier in the day, returned there in the afternoon and tucked into the east corner, napping. This was the first time we had seen her at the nest by herself without food in a long time.

Around 20:30 one of chicks left Stelco for BDC and found a meal waiting for her on the north logo. One of the volunteers had seen an adult go there, but we didn't realize it was leaving food! The other chick soon joined her sister and they started fighting over the food. Minutes later, for the first time, we saw one of the chicks take off carrying food. She landed on the west face of the roof of a new location, the Scarfone Hawkins building. Of course, her sister soon followed. By the time we were ready to leave for the day both youngsters were still on this building. Looks like their fledging stage might be over soon!


Sunday, July 5, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: Each day the sisters amaze us with how much their flying skills have improved! Today was no exception, as they performed some stunning aerial feats! The day started with a food drop at Standard Life around 07:45; McMaster appeared to have eaten most of it. After some light flying that included the stop on the Standard Life window washing apparatus seen in the picture, by 09:30 the pair had settled down on the Sheraton, Barton on the "o" and McMaster on the upper roof. Barton then moved to a window ledge where she took a brief nap, but by 11:20 both fledglings had taken off, Barton going for a long flight with a parent while McMaster flew around the area several times before landing on the upper grating of Stelco.

Throughout the afternoon there were many flights, with most landings being on the south side of Fairclough or the Stelco grating. The sisters were seen flying together several times too, soaring in the air and touching talons every once in a while. One would fly beneath the other and flip onto her backside as they touched talons mid-air! It was amazing! Talon touching is one of the signs that Peregrine chicks are getting close to fledging – when they can do this, they can also exchange food in the air.

The sisters also really enjoyed each others company today. In addition to flying together, they also cuddled side by side on many buildings and played together too. Black insulating fabric on the gravel on the upper roof of Fairclough got their attention, with both birds grabbing the tangle in their talons and trying to lift it up while flapping, as if practicing to lift prey!

At 16:40 an adult chased a Turkey Vulture across downtown Hamilton, pecking and diving at it until it escaped northbound. As the evening went on, the sisters flew together from Fairclough to Stelco and finally to BDC, never leaving each other's side for very long. They were last seen settling down on the north facing logo of the BDC, just like the night before.

Thanks again to the volunteers who came out today. We need full coverage for another few days, so all help is greatly appreciated.


Saturday, July 4, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: Today was another exciting, flight-filled day for the girls. During many excursions around downtown Hamilton they made successful landings on the BDC, Fairclough, Sheraton, Standard Life and old Revenue Canada buildings. Around 09:15 Lily landed on the 24th floor of Stelco and started squawking loudly to McMaster, who was lying on the BDC logo. Lily then took off toward the BDC and circled the building several times, calling all the time and trying to get McMaster to fly with her. This happened twice more, with McMaster ignoring the cries each time. Barton on the other hand flew around often, her flight time much longer than before. She often stayed in the air for over five minutes, soaring high above the downtown with an adult. She even interacted with her parents in mid-air!

Two of Barton's favourite perches were the window washing structure on Standard Life, seen in the picture, and a railing on the old Revenue Canada building at Caroline Street. McMaster on the other hand preferred the BDC, staying there for much of the day. At 11:50 a pigeon was brought to the middle roof of Standard Life and then carried away to BDC after both chicks got too excited and tried to take the food away. Only McMaster followed the meal; Barton skipped lunch. At 15:00 Ossie brought a sparrow and again only McMaster ate. McMaster was seen going on a long flight with a parent later in the afternoon.

At 18:25 Barton, who had been on BDC with McMaster, found food on the northeast corner of Fairclough and ate it there, giving me an amazing view of her and the prey. Ossie came in later to eat the leftovers, and Barton returned to BDC where the sisters cuddled next to each other on the logo for the remainder of the evening. They are so adorable!


Friday, July 3, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: After a busy busy Wednesday of long and numerous flights, the girls decided to take it easy today. At 09:00, when Lily brought a large breakfast to the west corner of the nest ledge, Barton took over the food immediately (image) and was being extremely protective of it. McMaster watched this from the top of the Fairclough building but skipped the meal. A few minutes later she flew to the southwest corner of the upper roof of the Stelco tower and enjoyed the view. Later on Lily joined Barton in the nest, but she kept chasing her own mother away! At 09:45 Lily finally succeeded. The morning continued with McMaster making some flights around the familiar buildings: Fairclough, BDC and the Stelco tower. On one of her takeoffs she decided to go exploring, flying north east, and we all lost sight of her for about 45 minutes, but then she flew back to the south west corner of Stelco. During this time Barton was napping and digesting the big meal she had received. McMaster really seems to enjoy the Stelco tower's roof, as she spent a fair amount of time on it yesterday and today. Certainly the best view of the city!

Later on in the afternoon Barton started flying around and exploring some roofs as well. We have all noted that this girl is quite curious and enjoys jumping around and pecking and grabbing stuff she finds. Perhaps part of her hunting training? Around 16:00 Lily was spotted on the BDC logo with a large meal. McMaster noticed immediately and flew to the BDC building. Minutes later, Lily was very nice and took the food exactly to where McMaster was standing. The youngster grabbed it, ran far into the roof and spent quite a bit of time eating her feast. This time Barton missed out.

As the evening continued, both chicks decided to take it easy and relax. They took a couple of flights, but it wasn't as busy as the night before. An adult brought food to the “h” of the Sheraton and Barton got her dinner. This time, though, the chick did some plucking and prepping the meal for herself. Who knows, maybe we will soon be watching some hunting as well! Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out this week! It was definitely a busy one, and we greatly appreciate all the help, support and extra hours we received.


During quiet periods Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun has been sketching the Peregrine chicks at various moments. Here are two of her drawings.


Thursday July 2, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The girls are blowing our minds with their takeoffs, flights and landings! The morning started with Barton showing off her skills, flying to the Fairclough and BDC buildings while McMaster relaxed and rested after three long days full of stress and fear. At 06:46 she hungrily received breakfast from Lily, possibly her first meal in over 72 hours!! As can be seen in the picture, the moment Lily landed McMaster jumped up and immediately tried to take the food. Definitely a hungry teenager! Fortunately she didn't have to share the meal as her sister was wandering around the BDC building at the time.

As the day went on Barton kept practicing her flights, going back and forth between the roofs of the Sheraton, BDC and Fairclough. At 10:22 Barton decided to join McMaster in the nest. This was the first time the two sisters were together after Monday early morning. An extremely cute scene to watch! They pecked and pushed each other and finally decided to snuggle and nap right next to each other. After a couple of hours of bonding and napping Barton took off once again to practice flights and landings, this time joined by Ossie, who came in to fly with her. In the meanwhile Lily spent some significant Mom and daughter time with McMaster in the nest.

At 14:31 Barton made her first long flight, flying around the buildings, turning, going a bit low and getting back up high. It was truly beautiful to watch. At 15:30 McMaster finally decided she had rested enough and took off. After having struggled for two whole days this brave chick targeted the highest point in the area, the Stelco roof, and made it with no problems. The evening continued with numerous flights of both chicks and parents. At 17:30, when both parents took Barton for an extremely high flight which lasted around five to six minutes, we could see that McMaster was trying to decide whether to join them or not. At 19:00 Lily showed up on the Sheraton's sign with a large meal. Barton, who had been out of our sight for more than 45 minutes, immediately appeared and started munching away. Poor McMaster had to work hard to get some; she eventually succeeded in getting a good meal by following Lily to the BDC building. When we left McMaster was resting on the BDC logo and Barton was still on the "a" of the Sheraton's sign. The fledging period has begun!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: What a day! Even after her eventful morning Barton was still very active at noon, jumping around, flapping and walking the building ledges after flying to the uppermost roof of the Sheraton. Mum and Dad stayed nearby, watching both McMaster, who was still on the Thomson building's third and uppermost roof, and Barton, who by then had flown to the Fairclough building and back. Today, Barton showed us what an outstanding and adept flier she is, nailing all her landings and actively exploring all the surrounding buildings. The picture shows her just about to take off from the Standard Life roof at 09:35. At 17:20 she finally decided to land on the Standard Life building after she saw Ossie there preparing food on the south centre ledge. Barton ate hungrily, often trying to pull the food completely away from Ossie.

We were getting worried because McMaster, who had not moved from her location on the Thomson roof all day, had not been fed despite her cries. At 19:45 Barton had a second meal, and McMaster missed out on that one too! After that meal Barton flew to the Sheraton and then the southwest corner of Fairclough, where she stayed as we packed up for the night. At 20:30, Lily started screeching angrily and circling the roof of the Sheraton. A maintenance worker had appeared on the roof, and an agitated Ossie soon joined Lily until the man went back inside.

By 21:00 we were all extremely concerned about McMaster, who still had not flown. Suddenly, however, she was seen heading west and the next thing we knew made a perfect landing on the east side of the Sheraton roof! She had flown to that high altitude in such a short time! McMaster slowly made her way to the nest, stopping briefly on top of the camera. What a great end to the night! THANKS to all the volunteers who kept such a close eye on our birds all day.


Wednesday July 1, 2015 - During the night McMaster left the Fairclough building. At 07:50 this morning diligent Falconwatchers found her across King Street on top of the Thompson building (left photo). She seems well and is probably looking forward to her first food in more than 48 hours. In the meantime, Barton flew to the Standard Life Building, and then up to the top of the Fairclough Building (right photo). IT IS A HAPPY CANADA DAY!


Tuesday June 30, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: Both chicks have now made their first flight! McMaster spent the night on the 10th floor of the Fairclough building, leaving all of us quite worried, but we were relieved to have found her on the same spot this morning. This changed to concern during the day as she did not go anywhere. Barton, on the other hand, spent the night in the nest by herself and had quite a relaxing morning. Having all meals to herself, she walked around the ledge, groomed herself, did some flapping and helicoptering and napped for a while. Both Lily and Ossie were around all day, making sure both chicks were safe and sound. They both spent long periods of time on the Stelco tower where they could watch Barton and McMaster. At noon, Lily became extremely agitated when she saw a man walking on the Fairclough's roof. We could see her flying in circles around the man, and making really loud noises. A very protective mother!

In the afternoon, McMaster was still on the Fairclough building and Barton started taking her flapping and helicoptering to another level. We could see her practicing on and off. At 16:30 one of the adults started flying close to McMaster, tried to land on the ledge below her but failed. They seemed impatient and worried for her. As this was happening, Barton decided to take over the show and took off at 16:34, heading towards the Stelco tower. (The image shows her just a second before she lifted off). After bumping into a tower window she turned around and headed back to the Sheraton roof. Her landing was perfect, and we could tell hitting the window had not hurt her. Barton then began running around on the roof, pecking at stuff and completely amused at the amount of available space she had. She later started moving around the ledges, from East to West, North to South, and vice-versa, making us change positions on the ground in order to keep her in sight at all times.

The evening got quieter as the chicks became less active. McMaster was still in the same spot on Fairclough when we all left at 21:00, and Barton was on the south west corner of the upper roof of the Sheraton. Hopefully McMaster will fly tomorrow when there is a team to keep an eye on her! We look forward to Barton's next stop. Lots of flights to come – stay tuned!!! Happy Canada Day everyone!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - At 16:34 (4:34pm) Barton joined her sister in flight! A good strong effort, ending happily on top of the Sheraton roof above the nest ledge. It is always a relief to falcon watchers to see the birds fly up. This reduces our concerns that Barton might come to ground. McMaster is still on the Fairclough Building where she landed yesterday. We are hoping she will be enticed into another flight when the evening meal is brought in by the adults.


Monday, June 29, 2015, 22:00 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: McMaster’s first flight may have been even longer than we first thought. When the volunteers started looking for her a bird spotted on the old Revenue Canada building, a block west of the Sheraton, flew to the east, in the direction she was finally located. The left picture shows McMaster just as she left the ledge at 05:24:20. The right image shows Barton, apparently surprised, just 9 seconds later. Thanks to Falconwatchers Deborah, Leah, Monica and Andy for their hard work locating our first flier.

Although most of us thought Barton would feel encouraged to follow her sister's wing flaps, she either enjoyed having meals to herself and decided to relax, or felt lonely and sad and chose to stay in the nest. She stretched her wings and exercised a bit around 10:00, but it did not last long. When Lily brought in some food soon after this, she seemed to be extremely excited and would not let her Mom have any!

While the day continued to be fairly quiet - except for Ossie chasing off a much larger Osprey - McMaster had us all on our tiptoes throughout the afternoon and into the evening as she flapped her wings periodically at her perch on a sloped window ledge on the Fairclough building. Lily and Ossie spent a fair amount of time on the 20th and 22nd floors of the Stelco tower where they could keep an eye on both McMaster and Barton at the same time. No food was brought to McMaster, and she was still there when we all went home at 21:00. We really hope she stays in that same spot for the night, but chances are she will not! Tomorrow could be an interesting morning trying to spot McMaster if she has flown again, while doing our best not to miss Barton's first flight. Lots to come in the next few days!

Monday, June 29, 2015, 11:00 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: At 05:24 this morning - in the dark - McMaster left the nest ledge on her first trip away from the Sheraton. She must have made a really strong flight because Falconwatch volunteers found her on the roof of the west CIBC building, where she stayed for a while. Around 08:00 she flew again, this time to a 10th floor window ledge on the King Street side of the Fairclough Building, where she is now. A third flight today is likely. Barton is doing well, though a bit lonesome. Stay tuned!


Sunday, June 28, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: The day started foggy and rainy, with the chicks squawking and the parents flying in and out of the nest, though without food. At 09:30, Lily flew to the southwest corner of the 24th floor on the Stelco Tower and began to groom herself. She was magnificent! Back at the nest, the hungry chicks had to wait until 10:38 for food. At that time, Lily brought a small pigeon and spent time plucking away feathers on the "h" of the Sheraton before going to feed her chicks. Barton was extremely excited, and even tried tugging the food away from Lily! Even more surprising was how little Lily wasted food. She even happily swallowed a pigeon foot whole! For the majority of the afternoon, as the weather improved, Barton and McMaster were pancaking, or just grooming themselves and resting on the ledge.

A very interesting sight was seeing the chicks grab little rocks from the ledge into their claws, as if they were snatching up prey! At 19:30 Ossie, who had evaded us most of the day, finally made an appearance, bringing dinner with him! The picture shows McMaster grabbing it from him. Ossie left and looked on from an adjacent ledge but after a while, deciding that McMaster had hogged the meal long enough, he swooped back in to take the food and let Barton have some. Although the chicks have not yet flown, they are spending more time on the very edge of the ledge and flapping much more often. It won't be long now!


Saturday, June 27, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: Today was one of the rainiest days the chicks have experienced so far, but that barely fazed them! They started their morning with a really early feeding at 04:30 - caught on camera by a Falconwatcher getting ready for her 05:00 to 07:00 shift - and another at 08:10. As the day went on, they kept busy flapping and grooming themselves. McMaster was seen "pancaking", a term we use to describe Peregrines when they are resting, laying down spread eagled on their bellies. At 13:35, Lily flew to the Sheraton with lunch. She was first only feeding Barton, but after a few minutes McMaster grew impatient and worked her way up to her mother, eager to be fed as well. The picture shows Barton walking east as Lily feeds McMaster in the background. After the meal, the chicks rested and their parents hung around on the letters of the Sheraton. Some rain is good for the chicks because it helps clean away the city’s dust and grime, but I’m sure they felt today’s amount was a bit ridiculous!

As we have observed on other nights, towards 19:00 the chicks began to flap their wings, exercising their muscles. However, we noticed that they often kept their wings open, as if getting used to the lift and practicing gliding on wind currents. We are highly anticipating a first flight! As the thunderstorm started at 20:10 the chicks' activity declined, and when we packed up for the night, the parents had not returned from hunting.


Friday, June 26, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: Both chicks decided to again take it easy and save their energy for another day. After an early meal around 05:00, they did not start flapping much until 09:00. At 09:35 they were sitting on the ledge preening each other's white downy feathers in order to leave room for the "grown up" feathers that will come in handy as they start flying. Although it was a calm and quiet day overall, McMaster did significantly more flapping than her sister. Lily and Ossie stayed close by throughout most of the day. Both adults spent a fair amount of time on the Stelco tower, and both of them came to the 24th floor where I could see them at very close proximity. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!

At 16:50 Lily brought some food to the nest, this time not only feeding the chicks but also taking some time to eat herself, which I had not seen in previous feedings. Later in the evening two men were spotted walking on the Standard Life building roof, looking like they were doing maintenance. Quickly one of the adults was seen flying furiously around the Sheraton building and being extremely loud. They are very protective parents. As the chicks get older, their first flights get closer and closer. The great team of volunteers and I look forward to watching one of them!


Thursday, June 25, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: Today was calm and quiet for McMaster and Barton. After two meals in the morning, one very early at 05:00 and the other around 08:45, the girls decided to nap and hide from the sun for the rest of the day. Lily and Ossie stayed close by. As the girls snoozed, the adults watched from different angles until Lily decided to join them around 14:30. She landed in the nest without food and tucked in under the ledge right next to McMaster. As time went by she moved around, sometimes waking the chicks up, sometimes joining them in their naps. The interaction of Lily and the two girls was very lovely to watch. In the picture McMaster is the bird on the left, with Barton snoozing on her back. The white over Barton’s eyes is a membrane that closes when they sleep.

Although there was not much action overall today, there was an interesting incident over at the BDC building. Ossie landed on the BDC logo with some food around 16:15. A few minutes later he walked to the opposite end of the sign, leaving the food alone, and stayed at the new location for a couple of hours. He did go back to the food but soon flew off, leaving his catch behind. This is the first time this season we have seen one of the adults store food for a future meal. The day ended with Lily dropping some food in the nest and admiring her pretty girls from right above it. McMaster (white tape) turns 41 days old tomorrow and Barton (yellow tape) 40, which means first flights are about to happen. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015 – Falconwatch Coordinator Laura Sun reports: Today was filled with flapping, feeding, and basking under the hot summer sun. Early in the morning, at 06:10, the chicks were fed for the first time. McMaster and Barton continued flapping as the day progressed, as can be seen in the picture taken at 09:12. A light lunch was served when Ossie brought in a small sparrow for the two chicks to share. The hot afternoon kept activity to a minimum, with Ossie and the chicks resting under the overhang for quite a while.

Around 19:00 the chicks became active once more! They were flapping furiously and dashing along the nest ledge. At times it almost seemed like they were going to fall off! McMaster would start to flap first, and then Barton would soon follow. There was some helicoptering as well. The visitors who came for the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club Wednesday Night Walk enjoyed a warm welcome and good views of all four Peregrines through telescopes and binoculars. Unfortunately they just missed the excitement that began when Lily flew in to the “o” on the Sheraton sign with a pigeon so big she took almost an hour to pluck and prepare it. It seemed as though she was not going to share any with her impatient, screeching chicks. Finally, just after 21:00 when we were about to pack up for the day, Lily finally swooped into the nest and started feeding her very hungry youngsters.

A visitor from the past: Today the falcons shared the downtown area with the Hamilton Big Brothers - Big Sisters "Over the Edge" event, which saw close to 50 brave souls rappel 26 stories from the roof of the Stelco building down its east side to ground level. One of the “Edge” volunteers was Angela Wilson, who was the Coordinator of Falconwatch in 1998. Angela and Senior Monitor Mike Street enjoyed catching up and reminiscing about the early days of Falconwatch.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015 – Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The image at left, taken around 16:15 Tuesday, shows very clearly why Falconwatchers do what they do. Aren’t they two good looking Peregrines?

Today was more of a "meal" day than a flapping and helicoptering day for both Barton and McMaster. Having had numerous meals throughout the day, which has not been the case recently, the girls sat around the ledge and napped, flapping once in a while, but mostly just observing their parents. Lily and Ossie took the show. At around 09:00 both of them came to the nest at the same time with food for the chicks! This happened again a few hours later. A bit after that feeding Ossie took some food and flew to the steeple of St. Paul Church, which in past years has not been a popular spot for any of the Peregrines.

In the afternoon we saw Ossie once again chasing a Turkey Vulture, and Lily spending hours watching the chicks from the window ledge just west of the nest ledge where the chicks are located. Later on Ossie joined her for quite a while, watching from the far west ledge, and then departed heading east. When we left at 21:00 Lily had been watching the chicks from the letter "n" of the Sheraton sign for at least an hour, and was still there.


Monday, June 22, 2015 - Falconwatch Coordinator Lucia Jara reports: The on-street Falconwatch 2015 has begun, and we are extremely excited! Both McMaster and Barton seem to be getting more and more comfortable with their wings. They continued to do lots of flapping, and even though it was just the first official day these girls had us glued to our binoculars when they were on the ledge. At 7:00pm, as it started to rain, both chicks got particularly active and started doing what we call "helicoptering", flapping their wings quickly and hard and lifting off the ledge two or three inches before coming down a few seconds later. Definitely fun to watch. It won't be too long until they take their first flight! Both the parents came by to check on them and brought food, though not until the afternoon. As good Peregrine parents do, the adults were on guard all day, with a Turkey Vulture and an American Kestrel both finding out that they had wandered into unfriendly territory. Barton and McMaster are lucky they have highly skilled parents who can hunt, and a great team of Falconwatchers to keep an eye on them during their fledging stage. Welcome everyone to the on-street Falconwatch 2015.


June 21, 2015 - Falconwatch 2015 gets fully underway tomorrow, Monday, June 22, day when the 5AM team of Falconwatchers takes its place at the main monitoring site, the parking area on the Sheraton Hotel side of the brand new McMaster University Downtown Health Campus at the corner of King and Bay Streets.At 9AM one of our Coordinators will start her first on-site monitoring session. This year as in 2012 and 2013, we will have two Coordinators sharing the duties on alternate days. We are very pleased to introduce and welcome Lucia Jara and Laura Sun.

Lucia Jara was the Director of the McMaster Farm Stand, managing a team of customer service representatives and volunteers, raising awareness about local food, and participating in campus events. She also brings field experience, collecting ecological data at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Lucia will be working 4 days a week.

Laura Sun is an experienced camp counsellor and coordinator, managing staff and volunteer jobs, the weekly camp schedule, and leading outdoor excursions. She has also held a host of volunteer positions in her community, working with the library and the YMCA. Laura will be working 3 days a week.


June 19, 2015 - McMaster and Barton are just over a month old, and already they are nearly full adult size. The pair are shedding their white chick down, replacing it with dark brown juvenile flight feathers. Accompanying this process, you will see a lot of preening and cleaning. For the moment, McMaster is noticably farther ahead in this process, and darker than her sister. You will also see leg stretches, like the one desmonstrated by Barton at left, and more and more exercising of their wings. Flapping. Lots and lots of flapping. Which, of course, makes falconwatchers sit forward in their seats.... The official on-street Falcon Watch begins on Monday, June 22.


June 11, 2015 - Falcon Watch runs from dawn to dusk. Even people with full time jobs can help us out before/after work. Falcons don't take weekends off, so neither do we. There are lots of shifts to suit nearly any personal time schedule, and we need a *lot* of people to fill them. Most volunteers just need to WATCH and report on the position of chicks. You are not required to perform rescues. We have a team for that, so no special expertise is needed. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Erica at erica.lagios@gmail.com. We, and the chicks, thank you.


June 10, 2015 - Experienced Falconwatchers always hope that the date of the first chick getting up on the ledge will be delayed as long as possible. Not so this year! At what may be the youngest age ever for a chick to perform this manoeuvre, either McMaster or Barton did it on Monday afternoon, with Mom right there looking on. What it means is that the annual Falconwatch on-street operation will be starting soon.


June 4, 2015, 13:30 - Today's banding went very well. The two chicks weighed in clearly as females, McMaster at 728g (left) and Barton at 730g (right). Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources biologist and bander, Anne Yagi, found the pair to be quite feisty, a good sign. The adult Peregrines were upset, as can be expected, but stayed clear of climber John Millar and safety man Chris Phinney.

McMaster was named for our new on-site partner, McMaster University's downtown health campus, which has just opened across King Street from the Sheraton. Barton continues our practice of naming birds after major Hamilton neighbourhoods. The image at left, taken at 12:47, shows the chicks' first feeding after all the disturbance this morning. Stay tuned - here they grow!!!


June 4, 2015 - In the picture, taken at 06:47 today, Lily is giving one of the chicks breakfast.

Around 10:00 this morning the chicks are going to get a visitor and go for a little trip. About an hour later, after being weighed, gendered, banded and named, they will be returned to the nest ledge. Lily and Ossie 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 after the return trip. 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 at our display window near food court and Hamilton Public Library entrance in Jackson Square.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015 – Just like kids everywhere, our chicks are growing quickly. In this image, taken two days ago, it’s easy to see that their heads are now above the ledge. It won’t be long before they are looking over it!

The Hamilton Community Peregrine Project is pleased to announce that with the cooperation and assistance of Real Properties, the managers of Jackson Square, the 2015 Falconwatch display window is again in operation, but IN A NEW LOCATION. The window is on the rear wall of Jackson Square, just left of the entrance to the Hamilton Public Library, past the food court area. Another way to find it is to go to the old window location, turn around and walk straight ahead until you come to the new location. We have multiple screens operating, as well as pictures, text updates and information on Peregrines. Please feel free to stop by whenever you are in the mall.


Saturday, May 16, 2015 - Tonight around 7:15 we saw two little beaks reaching up from behind the parapet edge to demand their share of the meal being delivered by Lily. With luck we'll see one more chick within the next day or so, and then we will find out whether there was a fourth egg hidden from our view....


Friday, May 15, 2015 - We are catching tiny glimpses of white fluff that are unmistakably chick down. It already appears dry and white, so most likely the first hatching occurred sometime earlier in the day, when the adults were seen 'fussing' about the nest. Look in the bottom right corner of this photo and you can just see a small patch of white. It's not stray fluff. Lily doesn't feed fluff, At 5:30 this afternoon she brought a meal to the nest, and was clearly feeding it to a chick just out of sight of the camera (photos in Favorites Gallery). We have zoomed in the camera a little bit to see what other glimpses we are offered. With luck, we may get some hints as to how many chicks are hatching. It could be another day or so before they all have hatched.


May 7, 2015 - The quietest time in each nesting season is the long days of incubation, with little to see other than a brooding parent. We haven't even caught a glimpse of the eggs in over a week, because of the position of the scrape behind the lip of the ledge. But in another week or so this will start to change. We will see meals for chicks start to arrive, and, even if we cannot see the chicks at first, we know they will grow quickly and begin to explore their nest-ledge 'world'.

Falconwatchers will be pleased to know that Yale-Real Properties, the managers of Jackson Square, have generously provided a new location for our Falconwatch display this year. It will be located in a storefront window near the food court, just west of the inside entrance to the Hamilton Public Library. As there is cable to run, a hole to drill and other work, we can't give an exact date for the window to be up and running, but we expect to have it in place as soon as possible, hopefully in time to see the first images of chicks sticking their tiny beaks out.


Saturday, April 25, 2015 – The Sheraton Hamilton Peregrine nest mystery - three eggs or four? – continues to keep Falconwatchers wondering as the incubation period drags on, as it always does. Based on the date the first egg appeared, a chick should hatch around May 15-20, though it’s hard to say for sure, especially since this may be the first time Lily has laid eggs. Lily and Ossie are paying close attention to keeping the eggs warm - 'shift changes' on the eggs are very quick, taking 10 to 30 seconds at most. Reminding us of the late Surge, Ossie is definitely doing his full share of incubation (photo).

It should be pointed out that because the ledge parapet is in the way, hatching may not be directly visible on camera. We will easily be able to infer this, however, when Lily starts fussing or the adults bring food to the scrape. If chicks don't occasionally poke their heads out, it will be only a matter of weeks before they start wandering up and down inside the ledge.

The city is watching too – Lily, Ossie and Madame X got front page coverage in yesterday’s Hamilton Spectator. We’ve had no further word about Madame X, but hope to hear. Many Falconwatchers have asked when the display window will be operating. We are still trying to make arrangements. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - This morning Ossie turned the eggs and once again we were treated to the sight of a new egg. As can be seen in the photo, the egg on the right has not picked up a coating of powdery white rock dust yet, so it was likely laid within the last 24 hours. But is it really the third egg, or could it be the fourth? Falcons are generally fairly regular about their laying, and there has certainly been enough time between last Thursday's second egg and this one, that it seems reasonable that there could have been another egg laid that we have not yet seen. The arrangement in this photo is also highly suggestive of a grouping of four, with the possible fourth egg just out of view below the middle one. For now we can confirm we have three, but how many will the final total be? Hatching will likely be similarly 'screened' by that parapet edge, so the guessing game will probably continue until the chicks are big enough to start moving up and down the ledge. Without doubt it's going to be an interesting and exciting year!


Thursday, April 9, 2015 - Today at 3:24 we caught a glimpse of two eggs underneath Ossie (photo). Given the way the scrape is partially obscured, we can't be certain how long the second egg was there before being rolled into view, but most likely it was laid within the past 24 hours.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - Around 5:30 last night, Llly started sitting continuously in the spot she's been favoring the past few days, at the near end of the ledge. Various bits of fidgeting and turning had us convinced that she had laid the first egg of the 2015 nesting season. At first, the egg was not visible, even when she left the scrape for food this morning, but falcons tend their eggs and turn them frequently, and so at 11:41 Lily rolled a beautiful brown egg (with a white falcon-poop 'racing stripe') into view. The position of this scrape is going to make it difficult to count eggs, so there will be somee suspense for a while yet!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - In the past few days the frequency of visits to the nest ledge have increased, with more 'inspections' of the possible scrape sites in the ledge. The birds seem to be favoring a location close to the near end of the ledge, but one or another are still occasionally seen in the traditional spot at the far end. It looks like we really won't know for sure until Lily lays her first egg. We have not seen any overt signs of mating, but courtship is in high gear, with Ossie bringing meals to Lily, as can be seen in this photo from 11am. And Lily is occasionally seen waggling her tail in an inviting manner, so the signs are good. Keep a close eye on that ledge!


Monday, March 16, 2015 - Hamilton's latest arrival now has a name! Some serious detective work was needed to verify that a minor discrepancy in the banding database was indeed just a clerical error. Today, with the assistance of Barb Baldinger and Karen Cleveland from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, we were able to confirm the identity of the new female Peregrine at the Sheraton Hamilton nest as "Lily", hatched in 2010, at the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power plant, in Michigan. The Michigan DNR was kind enough to forward to us some photos of Lily when she was banded by biologist Nik Kalejs. Lily was named by the students of Holmes Elementary School as part of a fund-raising effort which saw them raising $500 towards the costs of the banding programme there. They will be proud to know the falcon they named looks like she is going to make a name for herself here in Hamilton! Our best wishes are with Lily and Ossie for a successful breeding season!


Sunday, March 15, 2015 - The saga continues! It appears that sometime on Thursday or early Friday Madame X was displaced by another female Peregrine, a bird that had been seen on a building at McMaster University several times in the previous week. Since Friday, the bird keeping company with Ossie at the Sheraton nest has a plastic leg band which is bright green over black, not Madame X's very faded black over red. Through adroit use of the zoom feature "Cameraman" Charles has been able to read the letters on the new female's band. She has tentatively been identified as a falcon from Michigan. We hope to know more tomorrow. In the meantime Falconwatchers and area birders have been asked to keep an eye out for Madame X, in case she was injured during the transition. Stay tuned!


Thursday, March 12, 2015 - "Ossie" is "Ossie". Thanks to many sources we have been able to confrim that the new male at the Sheraton Hamilton nest is indeed "Ossie". What we have been seeing on the cameras in the last week or so appears to have been "Getting to know you" behaviour. This is normal in the bird world, and now Madame X has accepted his presence. The next stage in the process is about to begin. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - Based upon a slightly blurry look at leg bands this afternoon, we have tentatively identified the new male at the Hamilton nest as a bird that was banded in 2012 at the William Osler Hospital in Etobicoke. His parents were Hurricane (male) and Chessie (female). This is "tentative" until we can get a clearer look at the bands, to be sure that the upper character is the letter "O" and not the number "0", as it is the former that identifies him as Ossie. So for now, that's what we'll be calling him. Welcome to Hamilton, Ossie!

In the past day, Ossie and Madame X have been seen together on the nest ledge for the first time, and today, just for a moment, the new male was seen down in the actual scrape at the end of the ledge! Clearly Madame X approves of this new companion, and is showing him where she traditionally nests!

R.I.P. SURGE (2002-2015)

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - The Hamilton Community Peregrine Project regrets to advise all Falconwatchers that Surge has died. Although apparently well when first seen at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) this morning, while being examined he suddenly expired. A post-mortem examination will be conducted to see if it is possible to learn what caused his death.

On 24 January 2015 Surge was found injured on the ground near the HMCS Haida National Historic Site at Hamilton Harbour. He was taken in by Animal Control and then transferred to the Owl Foundation in Vineland for care. It appeared he had been in a fight with another bird. His right nostril was punctured, there was damage to his right cere (the skin between beak and head), and he had a scratch on his cornea. He remained under the care of experts at the Foundation as they monitored how his injuries could affect his eating. Surge weighed in at a very healthy 781 grams when he was being assessed. They thought he was a female at first he was so big! Subsequently Surge was taken to OVC for an eye exam, which showed that any damage incurred in the fight had healed well. Until two days ago he remained under care at the Owl Foundation while the damage to his beak healed. (2006 photo of Surge courtesy of Ryan Laird Iverson)

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 Newbie at the Sheraton Hamilton nest. He and Madame X fledged three healthy chicks that year, and 22 more in the years up to and including 2013. In 2014 two eggs were laid but failed. A second laying of a single egg also failed. Many of the chicks fledged by Surge and Madame X have settled and successfully nested in or near other cites in Ontario, upper New York state, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Donations for Surge have been generous and are still being accepted to help defray the new veterinary care costs. We sincerely thank everyone who has donated in Surge's name.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - The Owl Foundation reports that Surge was found this morning with a rapid heart rate and in respiratory distress. He was taken to the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) for examination and they believe he may be having seizures. After receiving medication Surge is now stable, but he'll stay at the OVC overnight for observation. We will keep you posted!


Friday, February 20, 2015 - Falconwatch has had quite a week, with news on three fronts.

Surge: Surge is doing well. The Owl Foundation has shaved a portion of his beak to lessen the chance of something he eats disturbing the rest of the beak in the crack area. He is still on pieces of food, but it is hoped that he can start on whole quail in a few days. If the beak is stable after several days of whole food, he will be transferred to the larger enclosure to fly and restore muscle tone. The prognosis is good but only time will tell. Given the situation at the nest ledge, if and when Surge is well enough to be released that location will be determined carefully beforehand. (Photo courtesy of The Owl Foundation)

Nest Ledge: YES! There are two adult Peregrines at the nest ledge. As far as we can tell, one is Madame X and the other presumably a male. All that is known of the second bird at the moment is that it seems larger than Surge and has a very bright white chest. Needless to say, we will be keeping a close eye on this Peregrine in hopes of getting a solid identification from any bands that might be present.

Technology: With help from our friends at the Sheraton and a visit by a Fibernetics technician, a broken wire has been replaced and the camera feed to the Internet restored. The birds seemed to know it - they were not seen downtown during three visits Wednesday, but there they were on Thursday! As yet, they only visit the ledges infrequently, but it is our hope to get the camera zoomed in and read any leg bands that might identify the newcomer. Thank you for all the support we've received thus far! Stay tuned!


Monday, February 2, 2015 - Thanks to one of our dedicated Falconwatch volunteers, Surge made a safe trip to the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph for a thorough check up. Good news! The scratch on his eye is healing and his vision looks good. There's also no sign of abnormal beak growth, but he's sticking with a diet of cut up quail for at least another week before moving to whole quail. When he switches to whole prey and the rehab folks think it's okay, he'll be given a long outdoor enclosure called a flight cage. This will give him lots of space to flex those wing muscles in preparation for release. Thank you for all the support we've received thus far! Keep those falcon sightings coming so we have the best information on how to plan for his release. (Photo courtesy of The Owl Foundation)


Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Update on Surge....after being cleaned up, his injuries don't look as severe as initially thought. As long as everything heals up nicely Surge should be back on his feet in about three weeks! (Photos courtesy of The Owl Foundation)


Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Surge was found injured earlier today and is now recovering at the Owl Foundation. He was found near the HMCS Haida, taken in by Animal Control, and then transferred by one of our amazing Falconwatch volunteers to the Owl Foundation. It appears he was in a fight with another bird. His right nostril is punctured, there is damage to his right cere (the skin between beak and head), and he has a scratch on his cornea. He's under the care of experts at the Foundation and may be there for a little while as they monitor how his injuries could affect his eating. Despite this sad news, Surge weighed in at a very healthy 781 grams when he was being assessed. They thought he was a female at first he's so big! The Owl Foundation is a charity and does not receive government funds to cover the costs of caring for injured birds. Falconwatch will be paying for Surge's food during his stay...please consider making a donation to Falconwatch (click on "Your support" button above) to help pay for Surge's meals while he recovers. He'll be eating quail, which sounds exotic but actually approximates his normal food.

What does this mean for the 2015 season? Only time will tell. We'l update this page when we get a new report on Surge's condition.


In 2014, Madame X laid several eggs, in two separate clutches, but none of the eggs were viable, so for the first time in over 15 years, there were no chicks fledged from the Hamilton nest. The most recent fledgings from the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel were two girls in 2013, Laura and Brock (named for heroes of the War of 1812).

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 twenty-first 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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