2004 Summary

from Eve Ticknor, Falcon Watch coordinator

2004 was not without its ups and downs but we ended our Falcon Watch on a note of resounding success! There are now 2 more female peregrines in the air!

Although we started the official watch on June 19, it was at the banding that I had my first real feeling of what we might encounter during the weeks ahead. From the first moment I set foot in the Pinnacle Room of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, I knew that our volunteers would be firmly entrenched on the ground! The roof would definitely be out of bounds. Before our “predator” set foot on the ledge, Horizon was already mounting her attack on us and we were certainly glad of the window panes between us and a very angry falcon. She flew at us, turning just before reaching the glass and, although we couldn’t hear her, we knew she was screaming at us to stay away from her babies!

Kudos to Tracy Simpson, our “predator” who had to endure over 30 hits from Horizon, accompanied by Connor. Thanks to her, we were able to band both our chicklets who we discovered were females! Zanar had her photo taken with Hilary Fisher, the lady who named her, while Senator had to make do with me, as Michelle Samure couldn’t get away from the Wild Bird Care Centre to attend. Both our girls showed themselves to be very feisty, a good sign!

Some of our volunteers, led by Marcel Gahbauer, were able to come out to the CD Howe Building on the 12th for a marathon day of measuring, cutting, tying, assembling and trying out the flagging system to hopefully protect that building and our chicklets from meeting! It must have worked as we had no collisions there at all this year!

June 19 – Day 1. Lorraine Montoya, Micheline Bouchard and I had the joy of the first shift of this, our 8th season of the Falcon Watch. I must say, the cold winds took some of the joy out of this day, indeed this watch. We have never had such a cold season, lasting nearly up to the end. Occasionally we had the sun, but little warmth from that. We did have rain, not much fun when looking for a chicklet, but more of that later.

During the next week we kept watch as our chicklets exercised and ate, giving us the usual heart-stopping moments when one or both were flapping vigorously on the edge of the ledge. How they hold on to a shelf of metal flashing is beyond me. It soon became evident that Zanar was a very outgoing falcon while her sister, Senator, was more reticent. What was so touching to all of us was the strong bond between the sisters, more so than I had ever seen in the past. They sat and slept together. If one was moving along the ledge, soon the other came too. Once they were airborne, they spent more time apart, but sooner or later one would join the other and, chittering and touching beaks, both would settle down together again. That lasted during the entire watch, and beyond. Maybe they will migrate and spend the winter together. It is nice thought.

One chicklet took off on the 8th day, mid-morning. Her flight was strong and steady and, of course, we lost her. The call went out for additional volunteers and everyone there spread out to search. Thanks to Nicolas and Colin Conroy, who spotted her on the Jean Edmund Towers (formerly Journal Towers) on Kent St! Those boys saved us much time! Horizon was with her daughter from the moment she left the ledge and sat on the next building to keep watch. Just when the wind picked up and the rain began she decided to fly again and, as before, we all tried to follow her. We thought we lost her on Laurier Ave, but James Norminton was able to see her from the windows of a nearby building! More flights; more watching. She only quit flying when it grew dark and spent the night on the Queen Elizabeth Towers. We really appreciated our Jim (Sutton)and Jim (O’Neil) team who left the dinner table to help us out!

Meanwhile, her sister stayed home and spent a quiet afternoon and evening, although you should have heard the racket she made when her father stole the meal he brought her only a minute earlier! Her turn for the first flight came the next day and she ended up on the Podium Building on Queen St. I was able to check on her from inside the Marriott and, with the help of my binoculars, finally saw her leg band which told me that this was Senator and Zanar was the one who flew first! With both chicklets the same size and with similar markings and colouring, it was impossible to know which one we were dealing with much of the time. While we were keeping watch on her and her sister elsewhere, I got a call that one of our birds was found on the Justice Building by window washers! Senator had taken off without our notice! Thanks to James, and with the help of Frank Drake, Commissionaire, we were able to go up on the roof and effect a rescue on a bird who looked at us as if to say, “I’m tired; I want to go home; take me there, but DON’T touch me!”

Once Senator was home, she stayed there for days until the evening of Canada Day, she flew again and spent the night on the Judy Craig’s balcony railing at 151 Bay St! Then, and at other times, our photographer, James, was on the scene with his camera, giving us the opportunity for memories in the future!

Connor was on guard most of the time and we saw some superb action as he tried to keep his home free from avian passersby. We say his send a Great Blue Heron on it’s way in more hurry than I had thought a heron could fly! Horizon helped as well, chasing a gull up and down Queen St at lower than lamp post height! Connor, too, had his share of gull chases. I made an extra trip to the Wild Bird Care Centre with a female Merlin on whom he did a stoop behind the Constitution Square Building. Fortunately she was released a few days later, far from Connor! What he didn’t chase, in spite of being buzzed, was a family of American Kestrels, living near Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks St!

Aggression wasn’t kept just to other birds. Horizon had her usual hard time with local window washers and outdoor workers who here too high up for her liking. This included hitting someone working on the Minto, another working on the Marriott, and giving a visitor, Calvin Mollette, scratches and a great scare! Fortunately he has every intention to return for the next Canada Day!

We found that we had a few welcome changes to our Falcon Watch routine this year. To the delight of many of our volunteers, the restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel had gone and in its place was a Tim Horton’s! We made many a trip across the way for hot beverages – just the thing to keep going during the cold weather. We also were proud to display a poster of Horizon and her chicklet, Summit, on our new sandwich board, thanks to Austin Taverner! We now had a proper place for our new brochures, put together by Susan Goods and translated into French by Micheline Bouchard! With the addition of a donation box, we are now feeling much more professional! Our donations will be used for some much needed equipment such as binoculars, gloves,vests, etc!

An interesting bit of information came to me while doing this watch. Horizon has raised 17 chicks now, 6 of which were fostered in. 10 were males and 7 females. 10 survived while 7 died. Of the survivors, 5 were males and 5 females, while of those who died, 5 were males and 2 females. 6 survivors were hatched here and the other 4 were fosters. Of those who died, 5 were hatched here and 2 were fosters. Now for the really interesting part – if all were raised in the wild, we would have only 1 true survivor! This is because there would be no fostered chicks in the wild, and more to the point, only that 1 had no need to be rescued! Zanar would be our only survivor! And you thought volunteers don’t really make a difference.

Throughout the Falcon Watch we had great support from many people, especially The Ottawa Citizen who published my daily reports for all to read, bringing more visitors to see for themselves. I would like to thank the following:

  • Ian Fisher, Yvon Morin and the staff at the Constitution Square for allowing us to base ourselves there and for the monitors which allowed both the public and ourselves to keep an eye on our chicklets
  • Matthew Mcnaughton and the staff, especially Steve McAuley, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for assisting us both with the banding and returning Senator to her home
  • Pud Hunter and Chris Burns of the Ministry of Natural Resources, and Tracy Simpson and Maria Pezzente of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation
  • Chris McMurray and Alberto Mariaca of the Marriott who assisted us with tracking Senator when she first flew
  • Derek Mcnaughton and his editorial staff at the Ottawa Citizen for wonderful coverage of our falcons’ progress, and Mary Hogan for permission to use the photo of Horizon and Summit, taken by Chris Mikula
  • Nicolas and Calvin Conroy for invaluable assistance in spotting Zanar on her first flight
  • Joan Remsu for insuring no one went to the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Towers while Zanar was spending time there
  • Bill McCluskey and Susan Staniforth for inviting us to view the nest ledge from the 22nd floor of Tower A, Place de Ville
  • Frank Drake for assistance with Senator’s rescue from the Justice Building;
  • Judy Craig and Sylvie Lafleur for assisting us when Senator chose Judy’s balcony to spend the night of Canada Day
  • John Ayres and Eliane Leclerc for the many phone calls to keep us in touch with the whereabouts of our chicklets once they were airborne
  • Arlene Williams for her periodic updates from her vantage point way up in Tower C, Place de Ville
  • Shannon Stone for assistance with organizational items
  • Marcel Gahbauer and Leslie Hunt for giving of their time for the flagging project for the CD Howe Building
  • Hilary Fisher of Brookfield Lepage Johnson Controls and Michelle Samure of the Wild Bird Care Centre for giving our chicklets their names
  • Serge Langevin and Lisa Lejeune for offering to cover the costs of the flagging of the CD Howe Building, to Antonietta Peccia for her wonderful management and insight, and to Louis Thibeault, Guy Duquette, John Hickey, Jean-Charles Roy, Bud Carruthers and his Security Staff for making sure the flagging was installed, along with 2 members of the Advanced Rescue Techniques School of Canada, Kurt Bohme and Mike Peterson
  • Marie Clausen, our wonderful Volunteer Scheduler, who’s continual contact with all the volunteers insured we had coverage for each shift, along with calling out extras for special occasions
  • James Norminton who soon found himself to be our “official” photographer!

Above all, I wish to thank each and every volunteer who came out for shifts in spite of the cold winds and rain:

Nel Ahmed
Micheline Beaulieu-Bouchard
Claudette Bernatchez
Marian Bird
Roseanne Bishop
Valerie Blazeski
Evelyn Bodin
Bill Bower
Ken Buckingham
Silver Buckler
Marie Clausen and James Norminton
Anthony and Gretchen Denton
Gayle Duggan
Chris Earland
Matt Ellis
Lorraine Elworthy
Susan Goods
Christine Grant
Steven Heiter
Terry Higgins
Lesley-Anne Howes
Ruth Hutchinson
Ian Jeffrey
Lene Kollgard
Christine Lepine and Bernard LeMay
Christina Lewis and Bob Bracken
Victor Loewen
Bonnie Mabee
Phil Maillard
Bev McBride
Helen Michaud
Stephanie Mombourquette
Lorraine and Jordan Montoya
Jim O’Neil
Bill Petrie
Jude Phillips
Frank Pope
Trieste Rathwell
Nancy Scott
Daryl, Adam and Ryley Seip
Heather and River Shaw
Langis Sirois
John Sullivan
Veronique and Simon Sunatori
Jim Sutton
Austin Taverner
Jean-Pierre Thouin
Chris Traynor
Josiane Vachon
Gilles Vautour
Gabriela Williams
Laurie Wood
Nick Zeis

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