2007 Summary

from Eve Ticknor, Falcon Watch coordinator

Having had a very late start to the season last year, I was very happy to find that Diana had laid her eggs during the normal period for Ottawa’s Peregrine family, in early April. This meant that we would not have to run the Falcon Watch during the hot summer. Thank you, Diana!

Over the next few weeks I watched from the roof of Constitution Square Tower 1 to monitor her progress, or is it the progress of her eggs? Connor took his turns at brooding, always alert and seeming to be discomfited, rather than dozing off as his mate would. There were times I knew activity was happening in the penthouse of the Crowne Plaza Hotel as whichever adult who was brooding would suddenly look up at the roof over the nest, moving its head along with where the activity was taking place.

Sure enough, if I raised my binoculars to the windows there, I could see movement. It didn’t seem to bother the falcons too much, though. At this point I had met our new MNR Biologist, Deb Jacobs, who is in replacing Shaun Thompson. I took her to the roof with me to show her where the nest was. She was surprised to see how close we could actually get as she had assisted in London where the scope is set up quite far away.

When Diana seemed to be less relaxed on her nest, I knew hatching was commencing. And, then came the day when I saw a tiny white fuzzy head upturned with Diana’s head turned downwards, gently touching the tiny beak. I will never tire of that scene, knowing what fierce birds these are.

Now it was time to get going on plans for this year’s Watch. Not that we hadn’t already been making contacts. Melanie had started on the volunteer list already and increased her calling as soon as she knew we had eggs. It was slow-going this year as many of the people called or emailed did not get back to her for a long time. This is the first year we officially started the Watch with much less than full compliment on shifts. In fact, many shifts has not one person! How startling that fact was. Thank goodness our chicklet didn’t try his wings out during those shifts! He did surprise us on the morning of the first shift by getting up on the ledge rather than showing only the top of his head. He soon was spending lots of time moving from one end of the nest ledge to the other so fast that we surmised he was running along the inside. Sure enough, we eventually saw him running along the top of the ledge on a regular basis. He did love to run!

During our shifts, we also watched the various wildlife around us. For a few days we had a young groundhog next to the Scone Witch, along with a family of 3 young squirrels, singing House Finches, House Sparrow families, 2 pigeons and, briefly, a mother Crow with her very loud youngsters. The city is not just people!

Deb has said to me earlier that there would be no banding off the ledge as in the past, but that, unlike last year, if our chicklet was rescued, banding could happen at that time. Bill Petrie was keeping an eye, and ear, open as he was to do the banding. For quite a while it looked as if he would be out of luck.

Fledging happened on Day 6, late in the day. Melanie got into full swing, calling everyone to get us help for the search. Nearly every year, there is a big search to find our chicklet. This year was no different. We went home that night not knowing where he was, and resumed searching first thing. An hour went by. Where was he? Then a call from Mary. Joan had spotted him on a window ledge at the Marriott. He paced back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Who knows what triggers the first flight, or the second, but eventually he was off again. L This time he ended up on a tiny ledge on Constitution Square Tower 1 at the 11th floor level. And there he stayed for a very long time. His parents were attentive, trying their best to get him flying again. After all, falcons are supposed to be up high, and he was not high enough for them. They did feed him during this time, trying to use food as an incentive although giving in too soon in our opinions. Once we watched as Diana landed on the ledge next to his, with only a few inches between them, dangling a starling in her beak (come and get it style). He just flapped his wings and screamed but didn’t hop over such a short distance. She waved the starling, but still no deal, so she gave in and hopped over to him.

And so we continued to watch until he left the ledge, following him from one stop to another during his fledging period. By now, Bill and I had taken good looks at him and, comparing him to his parents, knew for sure we had a male. Somewhere along the way, he gained the name of Skylar, chosen by Marian.

On Day 9, while I was at work, he tried landing on the nest ledge but failed and eventually ended up on the ground on Sparks St where Chris tried to grab him. No dice! He wasn’t going to be caught, so he moved over to the arch at Memorial Buildings, but was picked up by Chris at last and brought to the Constitution Square to wait for Bill, who had been called and was happily on his way. Yvon Morin secured an empty room where the banging took place at last. Skylar was then taken up to the nest ledge to show off his new jewelry to his parents.

Soon he was off again, this time staying high, especially on the antenna of the Carlisle Building, his favourite perch in the days to come. Although we doubted he would need rescuing again, we kept watch, just in case. We saw him flying back and forth, small flights at first, then longer. One evening, after flying during the day, he attempted the nest ledge again. It isn’t an easy ledge to land on as it needs very accurate angles to get in under that roof. He tried it twice and missed both times. Soon it was evident his wings were tiring, and we all got ready to run to his rescue. Not needed. Diana came along and guided him up to the roof of Constitution Square by flying just under him as if to lift him up herself! What a tender moment for the watchers. In the days to come, we saw flying and hunting lessons. One of these was right over my head as I was standing outside the Scone Witch with Heather. We looked up as there was lots of screaming and saw what we thought were 4 falcons flying around. Soon it was evident that 1 was a pigeon, being chased by Skylar! Although he was unsuccessful, Diana had food in her talon, which he went after right away. He grabbed it from her and flew off. However, Connor came and grabbed it away from Skylar who flew off after his father and took it back, successful at “hunting”. Others of us got to see him continuing his flying and hunting lessons with his parents.

And, so, we came to the end of this year’s Falcon Watch, happy to know that he was doing so well. Peregrine means wanderer, and so he will over the next year or more until he finds his own territory and mate. For anyone who did not have an opportunity to follow Skylar’s journey from hatching through fledging, please find our Daily Reports Falcon Watch 2007.

We owe a big THANK YOU to Melanie for all the hard work she puts into this annual project of ours, especially asking to come back to do this again after having lived away for a few years! I also am thankful to all the following, each of whom has done his or her part in helping Skylar along during the first months of his existence. We are blessed to have all of you involved!

Owen Averill
Claudette Bernatchez
Marian Bird
Roseanne Bishop
Janet Castle
Barbara Chouinard
Joyce Colotelo
Marc D’Aoust
Suzanne Deschenes
Doreen Duchesne
Chris Earland
Jeanette Gallina
Ann Gibson
Christine Grant
Claire Haas
Gordon Hippern
Scott Holliday
Mary Hurley
Lene Kollgard
Heidi Laing
Josee Lepine
Phil Maillard
Dominique Marshall
Elsa Marshall
Frank Marshall
Gillian Marston
Joy Mauthe
Jordan Montoya
Lorraine Montoya
Melanie Moore
Jim O’Neil
Bev Peterkin
Frank Pope
Nancy Scott
Langis Sirois
Jennifer Spallin
Kaarina Stiff
Eve Ticknor
Chris Traynor
Sean Van Steinburg
Gilles Vautour
Austin Taverner

And very important additional Thank Yous to:

  • Alterna Bank Staff
  • Bob Boisvert
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel – Christine Grace and Staff
  • Constitution Square – Ian Fisher, Yvon Morin & Security Staff
  • Nadine Fox
  • Sandy Garland
  • Susan Goods
  • Lyn Hadley
  • Deb Jacobs, MNR
  • Bernie Ladouceur
  • Elizabeth Legeyt
  • Marriott Ottawa Staff
  • Bill Petrie
  • Joan Remsu, Justice Canada
  • Scone Witch – Heather Matthews and Staff
  • Ashley MacKenzie
  • Robin Roscoe, Lynwood Animal Hospital (always ready but not used this year thank goodness!)
  • All the downtown Ottawa office workers and residents who are our eyes on the ground and in the sky!

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