by Eve Ticknor
Every year brings something different in our Watch and this year was no exception! The length of time was shorter, but the intensity was no less for that.
Wouldn’t you know, we had no sooner established the schedule when Freedom decided to start early, maybe to see if we were on the ball. I received a call at work — “peregrine emergency!” — and away we went. Thankfully the teachers and vice-principal of Mary Honeywell PS in Barrhaven let me leave work early.
Bob Boisvert had seen Freedom launch himself and run into trouble. While I was driving downtown, madly using my cell phone (which I said I’d never do while driving) to rally Melanie and Remy, Bob had rescued our little one and had him ready for me as I arrived. I had already decided to bring him to Dr Robin Roscoe of Lynnwood Animal Hospital just to be sure he was okay and to have a close look at him. His feather development was almost complete, and he was raring to go (we have scars to prove it). On our return, several volunteers were in place to watch as I placed Freedom back on his ledge. His parents were waiting for us. Remy was sure Connor’s wing almost struck me! The rest of the evening was quiet, thankfully.
It took a few days before Horizon and Connor were ready to tolerate anyone on the roof of Constitution Square. Just ask Rosanne how close Connor came to my fleeing back! John didn’t fare much better when he tried the next afternoon. Nick seemed to have the magic touch, although not the first time.
The weather was not too helpful. Many volunteers did their shifts in the cold, with much wind and rain, and rain, and rain. We learned not to pay attention to the forecasts, especially when we heard “occasional showers” while we were being drenched!
We had other activities going on while we were on shifts, such as very low-flying search and rescue planes, hot-air balloons, a pow-wow at LeBreton Flats, and many people stopping for a look through the spotting scope, or for an update on the chicklets’ progress. Often visitors from the Crowne Plaza Hotel would come over to find out why we were looking at their rooms! Many of these were attending conferences. Speaking of which, there was an important meeting going on in the Constitution Square building over the weekend and we watched trolleys of food going in at various times of day, but empty trolleys coming back out. Rosanne even begged for snacks for us, but didn’t get so much as a strawberry!
Horizon gave us a scare one day by exhibiting strange behaviour, almost colliding with the eastern and southern walls of Tower C over and over, out of sight of her chicklets. Connor showed signs of worry, too, as he constantly tried to insert himself between his mate and the walls. After much contact with experts and my own observations over the past 4 years, we came to the conclusion that she was undergoing a short-term reaction to poisoning, probably due to ingesting a toxic bird. Thank goodness she was back to her own self by the next day.
Horizon then started lessons, by first teasing her offspring with fly-bys of food, and eating on the rooftop across from them while their little beaks hung open in surprise! This began to elicit more movement from all of them.
Zephyr took his turn at being rescued, from the Glue Pot Pub, by Melanie, who also decided to take him to Dr Roscoe. He, too, was fine although some of his left wing feathers were quite ruffled. One of his brothers spent the night on a window ledge of the Copeland building, in the pouring rain!
The next day Windracer had his turn at being rescued, but didn’t get a visit in to our favourite vet. Later on that day, Zephyr decided to land on the terrace attached to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, against his wishes. He was rescued and carried upstairs once again. That seemed to be the end of the rescues, as if they had decided to stay aloft where they belonged.
Melanie Moore and Remy Poulin were valuable assistants as they were totally responsible for all the scheduling, replacing, calling, etc., that goes with sharing the position of Volunteer Coordinator. Unbelievably, they both have volunteered to keep that position next year!! It’s amazing what some people will do for a cup of coffee or dinner.
A great concern was the ongoing problem of streamers over at 240 Sparks — never enough. Daryl Seip, of MNR, and Cathy and Chris, 2 of our volunteers, went over and managed to move a few around to the Queen Street side. This annual hazard is being worked on for next year!
By now, our chicklets were moving around with much more confidence, often spending time atop the Mariott, as well as the various other highrises. They were exhibiting more skills at an earlier age than last year’s gang. Apparently that might have been due to the difference in feeding during the first couple of weeks after hatching. The food fed to those in captive breeding programs is healthy, but not quite the same as that caught in the wild. This is a fact being noticed in other areas of our continent. Feeding of volunteers also improved occasionally, thanks to Breakfast by Gilles and Dinner by Nick!
Watching the aerial lessons is always fascinating. One chicklet wasn’t paying attention to Horizon and got knocked off his perch on an antenna! He paid attention after that! We watched food transfers, later food drops, and a kill made by Connor. We saw the parents chasing off a gull one time, and a Great Blue Heron another. Melanie had her first lesson in avian sunbathing, to the chuckles of staff up on the Mariott!, Yes, birds do spread themselves out in the sun….
Unfortunately, the 27th was a very sad day for our volunteers. Windracer hit a window and died instantly! Strong gusts of wind could have been a factor, as he just missed clearing the top, but that didn’t help our spirits. Nathaleigh wrote a beautiful poem for him and we put it up on the wall by us, with his photo and a vase of roses. Later that evening, we were privileged to see the best-ever exhibit of flying by his brothers — barrel-rolling, talon-tag, soaring to great heights, racing in and out between buildings. It was as if they were doing this for us and for Windracer! Many tears were shed that evening. Much later I thought of my camera.
The next day I had to bring in all of our radios for re-programming as there was too much interference from nearby businesses, including regular radio station broadcasting! Coming back from Elypse, I saw one chicklet chasing a pigeon, unsuccessfully.
Freedom and Zephyr were doing so well that we decided to end the watch on 30 June. We had done our job well and couldn’t really justify more scheduling. No, they weren’t out of the woods yet as they still had to learn to hunt successfully, but we couldn’t be sitting around waiting “just in case” as there was no way to know how long that would take. We would have to depend on the public and, of course, a few of us just couldn’t let go just yet.*
Well done to all our volunteers!!! As always, we have made new friends, renewed ongoing friendships, met interesting people, and spread a little more awareness around for these wonderful birds and the danger they are in. Will the time ever come when they won’t need our help???? Who knows.
*[Sad note: Zephyr also died around the 18th of July, unknown causes as yet.]
Thank-yous are so important:
- The staff of the Constitution Square for “housing us and our equipment,” for helping us in many ways.
- The staff of the Crowne Plaza Hotel for always being ready to help us bring our errant chicklets back to their aerie, and for providing emergency parking at times.
- Chris MacMurray and Jennifer McCue of the Marriott for allowing volunteers up to the restaurant at times to search out unseen chicklets.
- Dave and Gilles of Canadian Tire for providing parking for the coordinators.
- The staff at the CD Howe Building for letting the MNR and volunteers up to the roof to work on streamers.
- Dr Robin Roscoe and the staff at Lynnwood Animal Hospital for cheerfully checking out 2 of our screaming chicklets.
- Sandy Garland of the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club, our webmaster.
- Dr Paul Gully, Pud Hunter (MNR) and Mark Nash CPF) for their help in banding our triplets.
- Andre Marcel of Metrolert for putting extra voicemail functions on our two pagers.
- Andre of Elypse for taking the time to reprogram our radios.
- Daryl Seip of the MNR for his valued advice and help.
- Shaun Thompson and Christie Curley of the MNR for having the confidence in us to do this job, especially to Christie for being the “predator” during the banding on June 9th!
- Albert House for providing occasional parking for the Coordinator.
The following volunteers participated on shifts for the 2000 Watch. Each one, no matter how few or many hours gets a star, for each one contributed what they were able, none being too small! Those who have 2 stars gave from 20 to 40 hours, 3 stars for 40 to 60 hours, 4 stars for 60 to 100 hours and 5 stars to those over 100 hours.
Peregrine Watch Volunteers
|***** Moore, Melanie
***** Ticknor, Eve
**** Kelly, Chris
*** Hickman, Mark
*** Maillard, Phil
** Zeis, Nick
** Smythe, Dave
** Bishop, Rosanne
** Burgess, Margaret
** Hafner, Klaus
** Ticknor, Rick
** Poulin, Remy
** Sullivan, John
** Farkas, Stephen
** O’Neil, Jim
* Hoffe, Ron
* Ladouceur, Bernie
* Pope, Frank
* Bowker, Art
* Burgess, David
* Duggan, Gayle
* Jeffrey, Ian
|* Krywicki, Kathy
* Sirois, Langis
* Delroy, Cathy
* Feurer, Christina
* Haas, Claire
* Kingsbury, Marylou
* Kingsbury, Warren
* Montoya, Lorraine
* Palmer, Karen
* Peterkin, Bev
* Sander-Regier, Renata
* Selby, Colin
* Spencer, Carrie
* Bonneville, Paule
* Daniels, Doug
* Frappier, Michelle
* Harding, Grant
* Lartigue, Gabriella
* McLean, Gordon
* McLean, Maxine
* Roach, Bob
|* Roach, Hayley
* Sylvester, Mary
* Vautour, Gilles
* Woods, Peter
* Woods, Ursula
* Woods, Dawn
* Woolcott, Mindy
* Allison, Ken
* Birkett, Pamela
* Hawkins, Jill
* Higgins, Terry
* Koktan, Robert
* Lafleur, Bob
* Lonergan, Michele
* Moore, Dave
* Moreau, Gib
* Moskaluk, Carol
* Schnupp, Randy
* Wyber, Leah
* Curtis, Virginia
The following volunteers put in much time in spotting from their lofty offices; their hours weren’t recorded but much valuable time was included:
- Claire Boyer
- Arlene Williams
- Bob Boisvert
Nathaleigh McKenna-Rochon, who also made calls, wrote Windracer’s poem, and checked in daily on shift.
Many stars!!!! Many thanks!!!