2006 Summary

from Eve Ticknor, Falcon Watch coordinator

This has proved to be a different Falcon Watch, indeed!

To start at the beginning, well the end of last year’s Falcon Watch, Horizon died as a result of injuries. Her mate, Connor, was left to act as a single father to Storm, which he did admirably. For 2 months he was on his own, until a female we called LadyBird showed up. We gave her that name until we hoped to find her own name from the band she wore. A week later, a 2nd female showed up, subsequently driven off by Connor and his new mate. They were seen together into December. Connor was seen alone at times, then more often with his mate until we realized in early spring that his mate was not the same one as LadyBird! There had been a switch!

The new female has stayed and we eventually gave her the name of Diana, the Huntress from old mythology. She has no band, so we will never know her history, just like Connor, also unbanded.

Now we awaited Diana’s nest. We waited, and waited, and waited, and… just when we thought she was not going to nest, she did, at least 3 weeks later than we were used to! Most females lay their eggs earlyl in April, but a brand new one may start her nesting much earlier or later. At last! Diana had chosen her nest almost exactly where Horizon had hers the year before. Two eggs!

Eventually one egg hatched. It is not unusual for only one chicklet to hatch in the first year. Considering this was to be our 10th year, we were relieved to have a chicklet to monitor. Connor and Diana spent the next few weeks taking gentle care of their new baby. And so plans for the Falcon Watch were set in motion.

Melanie and I now notified all previous volunteers to see how many volunteers we would have. This would prove to be a tad difficult. Many of our volunteers usually arrange their holidays to be after the Falcon Watch. However, this year, their holidays coincided with a late Watch! We did gain a few new volunteers who were wonderful to work with, though! And, some were lucky enough to get in at the end when they returned from holidays.

Normally there would be a banding ceremony when we would know if our baby was a male or female. Here too, we would depart from the norm as the MNR decided against banding this year. Although there were several reasons, the main one was to avoid as much human interference as possible for Diana, to ensure her fidelity to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We would have to make our determination by sight for now.

The reason for wanting to know the sex of our chicklet has to do with the fledging period. Males tend to fledge earlier than females. This would indicate the approximate length of the Watch. Little did we know that this information would not help us very much. Our little chicklet was to be a individual among all we have monitored.

The official Watch started on Sunday morning, July 16th, at 6am. Our first surprise was to see a little head peeping over the ledge just a few hours into our first day! It continued to do so most of every day when not sleeping or eating. For days we had little view of the whole bird so guessing its sex was a game until finally it was out on the ledge more and more. Was it male or female? Only when Diana came to feed it was the size difference apparent. We now had a male! After collecting name suggestions for some time, our baby was given the name “Odyssey,” rather apt for a child of “Diana the Huntress”! This year, the name was submitted by Phil Maillard, one of our long-time volunteers. Congratulations, Phil!

Those of us who have been watching falcon families for some years, especially Horizon’s, found ourselves comparing this mother with our other mother. Often someone would start to say “Horizon, I mean Diana……….” At any rate, she was doing fine, although we thought the feedings were smaller than what we were used to. Also, Odyssey was still being fed, beak to beak, rather than being given his food to pick at himself. This would change over time, but in a way different from our expectations…..

Odyssey was not a chicklet given to lots of wing-flapping and running as we had seen in the past. He sometimes gave “wing-waves” instead. So it was with trepidation that one evening, after Ieft (!) that he suddenly was airborn! He flew a wobbly course across the street to a ledge of Constitution Square at the 2nd floor level, where he had keks to exchange with the “other” bird he saw in the reflective glass. He then hopped across a small opening to another ledge at the same level. His mother brought him dinner, after which he went to sleep. Our volunteers left him there at dark. I had returned in time to watch him there for a bit.

The next morning, he was nowhere to be seen and we spent the next 7 1/2 hours searching, having put the word out for extra help. Many volunteers came by for an hour or more to help, looking high and low. Eventually Oscar made a call and Melanie Moore and Steven Heiter went to rescue our fledgling from a corner right next to a steep ramp to an underground parking! Melanie and I put him in our rescue box and took him to the Lynnwood Animal Hospital where he was carefully checked over by Dr Tracey Poulton, much to his dismay! Did I mention he had proven to be our quietest chicklet of all time? Well, we finally had proof that his lungs and vocal cords worked just fine! Although we had been told he might have suffered an injury to one foot, every part of him checked out as well and we took him back to the Crowne. Thanks to Stephen F, Odyssey made it home, where he stayed for the next 6 days! Talk about waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Remember that I said earlier that we would se a change in Odyssey’s feeding habits? Almost immediately Connor jumped in and took over the feeding! Diana tried twice in a row to stop him from doing the actual feeding with no luck. She flew at Connor and hit him off the ledge, but Connor flew back and continued the feeding. Again, she tried and again, she lost out. After this, she watched. It was as if Connor said, “Hey, I have a son! I have responsibilities!” This may possibly stem from having taken over caring for Storm after Horizon disappeared from his life. As cute as it was to watch Connor tenderly feeding Odyssey, it was also a cause of concern that our chicklet was regressing a bit, or not yet ready for flight. And then, there was the foot injury. Soon it became apparent that he was limping, favouring his right foot. He took to putting his body weight on his left leg, propped up by his left wing, when at rest, which was often. However a rescue was not feasible as we knew his wings worked just fine. We could only watch and wait.

And then, he was off again! This time he flew over top of the Delta Office Tower and disappeared. Once again, we started to search, along with the help of others. This time we were alerted much sooner of his location. Sheena and Christianne of Delta Media saw him land and knew what and who they were looking at and called me. I went up to the 4th floor terrace where I saw him at the end, trying to jump up on the ledge. It was higher than his on the Crowne and he had to adjust his jump height. The 3rd jump was his best and he spent the rest of the day moving back and forth along the ledge. Interestingly, the colour of the Delta and the colour of Odyssey matched perfectly What great camouflage! Again, we left him tucked in a corner near a window for the night,hoping to see him there in the morning, and……. we did. A short time later, he flew over to the hotel side of the Delta.

During this time, I was often asked why his parents didn’t bring him food. There are 2 reasons for this. First of all, they didn’t know where he was. This is not unusual. The expectation is that flying will happen and when the cue to be fed is heard, they will bring food. Well, this brings the 2nd reason to play. Odyssey was the most quiet chicklet, too quiet for his own good. Although instinct tells a wild youngster to stay quiet to avoid attracting predators, it will keep this wild youngster from the care of his parents. It took him until the next day to finally use his voice to call his parents. This time it worked and soon Connor was flying circles overhead with food to entice his son upwards. However, it took until the next morning, for Odyssey to try flying. This time, he flew towards the Crowne, gaining height, but not enough. He made it as far as the 10th floor level, then headed for the Constitution Square, bounced off that and landed on the sidewalk. This next bit has no explanation. He then ran towards the street, flew at low level across the street and landed on the other sidewalk! Just in time for Chris Traynor to catch him! He and I immediately checked him out, all of him, to see just what was the injury to his foot. We found none and determined there might have been a strain to an upper leg muscle, perhaps inside where it was not evident. We also decided to return him to his home rather than subject him to another vet visit. This action was confirmed by Shaun Thompson, our area MNR Biologist.

So, now what? Do we have another 6 day wait? No. Third time’s the charm, as the saying goes, and he’s off again, this time to spend the night on the top of the Carlisle Building! He’s high where he should be, and high is where he has been ever since! We have seen him flying to various buildings, sometimes having us trotting up and down streets searching for him…….. We watched as he enjoyed life atop the Queen Elizabeth Towers, refusing to leave when both parents tried to make him leave right before a rain storm, preferring to eat his dinner right through the storm. He had not yet learned that if he wants to pull a piece of pigeon apart, he needs to hold it down first! We watched him make a sloppy but daring first landing on a very small part of the antenna on the QE!

And, now he really enjoys sitting way up on other antennas, just like his father, Connor. If you are downtown during the next few weeks, look up. You might see Odyssey way up high, sitting proudly, or flying with his parents. Very soon he will leave on migration and we will not see him again.

As for next year…

We have many people to thank, many who stopped by to check on Odyssey’s progress, many who came to offer assistance during searches, many whose names we will never know – Big Thank You to all of you! As well, Thank You to the volunteers who make this venture at all possible:

Marc d’Aoust
Marian Bird
Rosanne Bishop
Bill Bower
Diane Burns
Howard Campbell
Barbara Chouinard
John Clark
Marie Clausen
Joyce Colotelo
Suzanne Deschenes
Doreen Duchesne
Christine Grant
Claire Haas
Sara Herring
Mary Hurley
Robert Kirkham
Lene Kollgard
Bernie Ladouceur
Danielle Lamarche
Bonnie Mabee
Dick Mabee
Phil Maillard
Dominique Marshall
Elsa Marshall
Frank Marshall
Gillian Marston
Jordan Montoya
Lorraine Montoya
Melanie Moore
Elizabeth O’Driscoll
Jim O’Neil
Jorge Peral
David Petzold
Frank Pope
Dani Power
Nancy Scott
Langis Sirois
Jom Sutton
Eve Ticknor
Chris Traynor
Nancy Westran
Ashley Varsava
Gilles Vautour
Nick Zeis

And very important additional Thank Yous to:

  • Christina Lewis for our new logo
  • Ian Fisher, Yvon Morin, Cheryl Barrett and Security Staff of Constitution Square for Much support including permission to house our equipment, roof access and parking for the Coordinator, connections of 2 monitors for public viewing
  • Dr Tracey Poulin of Lynnwood Animal Hospital for an unscheduled examination of our chicklet
  • Alterna Savings Bank for allowing us space for our “base” and housing our sandwich board
  • Stephen Fumerton of Crowne Plaza Hotel for allowing us to conduct searches from the Penthouse and Terrace
  • Lisa Armstrong of Marriott Ottawa Hotel for allowing us to conduct searches from the Merlot
  • Oscar Poulin of Proserv Window cleaning for spotting Odyssey for our rescuers after a very long search
  • Sheena Pennie and Cristiane Doherty of DeltaMedia for calling in the location of Odyssey, and assistance to the Coordinator on their terrace
  • Bob Prankie of Morguard for assisting Coordinator with access to Canadian Association of Broadcasters terrace to check on Odyssey
  • Nat Leal of Delta Hotel for assistance to Coordinator in getting a closer look at Odyssey
  • Jane Breen for ongoing support and daily prayers
  • Cathi Harris of Transport Canada for observations during Watch
  • Bob Boisvert of Transport Canada for his many observations and ongoing photos following each stage of our falcon family
  • John Ayers of Queen Elizabeth Towers for his many observations and an important roof check
  • Sandy Garland of the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club for posting all our updates and photos on the OFNC website
  • The Canadian Peregrine Foundation for posting our updates and photos to their website.

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