After Lorraine found the older chick on the roof this morning, she (the falcon, not Lorraine) spent the day resting and digesting her reward meal. There was some travelling back and forth along the south and west sides of the roof, but she mostly slept on the southwest corner while James, Rick and Pauline watched, and while Ivanhoe and Rowena provided low, slow-motion flying demonstrations for her benefit.
Amelia, June 30, 2015. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman.
Ivanhoe and Amelia, June 30, 2015
I returned to the site at about 8, as Pauline was leaving, because I thought the chick might try to get back to the nest ledge before nightfall. Boy, was I right! Shortly after Pauline left, and after I took some photos of a¬†melanistic young groundhog ‚ÄĒ we find at least one every year at the Data Centre ‚ÄĒ the chick decided the time was right.
Obligatory annual ¬†photo of a melanistic juvenile groundhog, June 30, 2015
Amelia shortly before her first takeoff of the evening, June 30, 2015
She flew from the south roof edge to the southeast, with Rowena right behind, but missed her landing and a second attempt on the southwest corner. After a couple of loops, she¬†finally landed successfully on the west side of the roof as Ring-billed Gulls circled overhead, harassing her.
Not bad, I thought.¬†But she wasn’t done. Within minutes of that long flight, she tried again, this time landing successfully on the southeast corner, where Rowena quickly joined her.
Rowena (top) and Amelia, June 30, 2015
Rowena, June 30, 2015
The chick was clearly motivated to get back to the nest ledge ‚ÄĒ a good idea considering the stormy weather forecast. She eventually flew a total of eight times within a span of 40 minutes, landing on the roof with increasing confidence before a prolonged attempt to reach her sibling ended on the lower annex roof. She must have been very tired by then, but she tried once more and this time made a bit of a hard landing on a ledge on the east side of the building. We ‚ÄĒ Dominique joined me in time to see the last three flights ‚ÄĒ¬†heard the crash but found her looking alert and none the worse for wear.
With that, the chick decided she was done flying for the evening and settled into the ledge.
This chick is a very strong flyer ‚ÄĒ she completed at least nine flights on her first day, and only one of those ended with a¬†landing was lower than her liftoff¬†(the second-last flight, to the annex roof). I cannot recall any chick making so many flights on her very first day, never mind a female. Around the time of her third or fourth flight of the evening, a name came to mind: Amelia.
Amelia Earhart, a pioneering American aviatrix, was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, in 1932. She vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, during an attempt to circumnavigate the world.
Before you question the appropriateness¬†of naming a young falcon for a woman who disappeared under mysterious but likely tragic circumstances, consider the following: 1) Earhart was above all a skilled and fearless flyer. 2) She had a Canadian connection, spending time here as a nurse’s aide in a military hospital during the First World War, and taking off from Newfoundland on her trans-Atlantic flight. 3) “Our” Amelia will not be banded, so we are unlikely to know her ultimate fate once she leaves the Data Centre at summer’s end.
As for Chick No. 2, we have determined that she is in fact a he, notwithstanding an early photo that made him look similar in size to Rowena. We don’t expect him¬†to fly until Friday, but he appears very eager and¬†may¬†try a bit earlier. Meanwhile, he remains on the nest ledge, lonely but safe.