About Anouk Hoedeman

Falcon Watch Coordinator

Practice, practice, practice

Amelia, July 2, 2015.

Amelia, July 2, 2015.

Yesterday morning, James found Amelia back on the nest ledge with her little brother. She didn’t stay too long, and ended up low on the east side once again, this time six ledges down.

Time to¬†figure out how to gain some altitude and get¬†back to the top of the main building ‚ÄĒ not easy, she found out, for a fledgling flying into¬†a very strong headwind.

So, clever girl that she is, she took a series of low flights along the roof of the Annex until she got to the far west end. Then, with little hesitation, she launched herself full-on into the wind, flew west, banked back and let the wind carry her up and right over the roof.

Amelia, July 2, 2015.

Amelia on the Annex, July 2, 2015.

Amelia takes flight, July 2, 2015.

Amelia takes flight, July 2, 2015.

She perched on the east edge of the main roof or under the security cameras all afternoon, as her little brother screeched his little head off and flapped his little wings in frustration.

By nightfall, Amelia was back with her brother on the nest ledge, and although he appeared ready to fly at any second, he eventually made the wise decision to wait another day.

Happy Canada Day!

Amelia spent today trying valiantly to get back to the nest ledge, to no avail. A succession of volunteers ‚ÄĒ¬†R√©my, James, Dominique, Langis, Jennifer, Pauline and I ‚ÄĒ tracked her as she flew from ledge to ledge, explored the roof of the Annex building, and feasted on a well-deserved meal or two or three.

By 8 p.m., she was back on the south side of the main building, sharing a bite with Rowena and then Ivanhoe. We thought he stole her food at one point, but he was just bringing the leftovers to the younger chick.

Both parents encouraged Amelia to fly and tried to lead her back to the nest. She might have had better luck if she hadn’t been weighed down with so much pigeon. Instead, at nightfall, she finally landed on an east-side ledge, did a face-plant and fell fast asleep. She was still there, undisturbed by either the Canada Day fireworks or the giant flag flapping in the wind, when Pauline checked on her after 10 p.m.

The younger and still unnamed chick remains on the nest ledge, but not for long. He is practising like mad for his first flight.

Amelia, July 1, 2015. Photo by Alex deVries.

Amelia, July 1, 2015. Photo by Alex deVries.

Amelia, July 1, 2015

Amelia ready for takeoff on the roof of the Annex, July 1, 2015. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman.

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Amelia!

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

Amelia, June 30, 2015. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman.

Ivanhoe and Amelia, June 30, 2015

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.

Melanistic groundhog, June 30, 2015

Obligatory annual  photo of a melanistic juvenile groundhog, June 30, 2015

Amelia shortly before takeoff, 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 and Amelia, June 30, 2015

Rowena (top) and Amelia, June 30, 2015

Rowena, 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.

Success!

James last saw the falcon chicks tucked in on their ledge last night. Lorraine arrived early this morning to find one of the chicks on the roof!

She watched the chick make its way over the roof towards Rowena, who was perched on the security camera on the southwest corner. When the chick got there, Rowena took off! The chick tried to climb up the camera arm, but eventually gave up.

The chick¬†may well have landed on the roof on¬†on its first flight, by launching¬†off the ledge, looping back and getting¬†enough lift. Or, it may have gotten there in stages.¬†Either way, it’s an admirable¬†performance.

I’ll have to check previous years’ reports to be sure, but I think this is the first chick to make it to the roof pretty much right away. This is almost certainly a¬†female, which not only explains the delay in flying (at 42 days, rather than the 39 days expected for a male) but makes her ability to reach the roof this quickly all the more impressive.

Female Peregrine Falcons, like all birds of prey, are significantly larger than the males (an average 910‚Äď960 g vs. 500‚Äď570 g). That means there’s a lot more bird to launch¬†into the air and to¬†keep aloft¬†on the¬†first try.

This chick has also maintained the tradition of Data Centre chicks (about half of them) flying at the first crack of dawn.