And they named him …

After a long, mostly undemocratic process of polling longtime volunteers as well as asking the rabble over on Facebook to share their suggestions, we have made a decision about naming the male Peregrine Falcon at the downtown site.

Options were weighed, the pros and cons of various names discussed at great length, and pronunciation debated. There were some great suggestions that made the shortlist:

  • Caelum (Latin for “Sky”)
  • Torngasak (Inuit sky god)
  • W√∂din (Anglo-saxon god of the hunt, equivalent to the Norse god Odin)
  • Gordon or Pringle (to honour a longtime member of the Ottawa birding community who recently passed away)
  • Lyon (after the street, which was named for 19th-century Ottawa mayor Robert Lyon, who served only one year)
  • Hadfield (after the astronaut, Chris Hadfield)

In the end, we chose a name that we feel is sufficiently respectful, meaningful, simple to spell, and easily explained to the general public. It also perfectly complements his mate’s name, Diana, named for the Roman goddess of the hunt.

We are naming him Janus, after the Roman god of beginnings and transitions.

Diana and Janus are considered a divine pair in mythology. As well, he is the first new male at the downtown nest site since Connor arrived in 1998. Connor’s passing last year and Janus’s arrival represent both a major transition and a new beginning for the Falcon Watch.

Some may struggle with how to say “Janus”. “Jane-us” seems to be the most common pronunciation, if Google search results are to be believed. But some say “Jan-us” (like “January”, his namesake month), although this is easily confused with “Janice”.

Those schooled in the Classics may prefer “Yan-us”, which is the original Latin pronunciation (in fact, the name can also be spelled “Ianus”). However, we neither live in ancient Rome nor, for the most part, I think, speak Latin.

Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas.


Fail: Worst falcon chick photo ever

Well, I was going to impress everyone with the first shot of (one of?) the chick(s?) at Heron Rd. I saw it quite clearly, not in the nest but a couple of feet away. It was preening up a storm and looking adorable, or at least its little beady-eyed face was. That’s all I could see. But I took the opportunity to digiscope a few photos so I could show everyone.


Yeah, awesome, isn’t it? Whether because the camera angle was a little lower than my line of vision through the scope, or because this chick has impeccable timing, none of the eight photos shows its face. Instead, I have five photos of the ledge, and three photos of a white crown against a white backdrop (circled). Yes, the one above is the best I can do, even with Photoshop (okay, Aperture, but still).

Guess we have to wait a little longer for that first baby portrait. Or you can look at these little guys and pretend one of them is the chick I saw.

Incidentally, this is my fifth year on the Falcon Watch, and my fourth doing nest monitoring. Yet I had never seen an actual downy Peregrine chick until today. I joined the 2009 Falcon Watch when Tailer and Nihei were of fledging age and had all their feathers (I wasn’t even an official volunteer yet when I helped rescue the male juvenile, Tailer, after he almost landed on my head). I spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons becoming closely acquainted with unhatched Peregrine eggs. Last year, there was more waiting in vain downtown until I found out about the falcons on Heron Rd. ‚ÄĒ about a day and a half before the first one started flying.

My photos may be useless, but this evening’s first look at a chick was a special moment for me.




Chick confirmed at Heron

Falcon Watch volunteer Langis Sirois spent some time at Heron Rd. on Sunday evening and confirmed the presence of “one tiny all white chick”. Rowena (the mom) was sitting next to the nest, looking in. When she flew to a nearby perch, Langis was able to see the chick.

There may well be other chicks, but the high sides of the nest mean we’ll have to wait until they’re big enough to be seen.

Thank you, Langis!

Chick(s) at Heron Road?

Rowena, our resident female at 875 Heron Rd., continues to remain very visible, apparently standing rather than sitting in the nest. I still have no irrefutable proof of chicks, but the evidence is mounting.

On Sunday evening, I watched for about an hour, mostly in the rain. Alex joined me for the first half hour, then Carlos Barbery dropped by with Gillian Shields to add a Peregrine Falcon to his Baillie Birdathon tally (116!). None of us could see a chick, even when Rowena and Ivanhoe switched places, but visibility was poor.

Last night Rowena spent most of her time looking down into the nest, staring at something. I watched for about 45 minutes, hoping she would leave the nest so I could catch a glimpse of a chick. She never did leave ‚ÄĒ and, unlike my previous two visits, Ivanhoe didn’t make an appearance before dark. But I am 99% certain I saw a chick’s head appear very briefly over the top of the nest!

I’ll keep checking the nest over the coming days to look for more evidence and hopefully get a photo of fluffballs.


Nest updates

A couple of weeks after we lost our roof access to monitor the downtown nest (a reaction to an incident at another building owned by Oxford Properties, and nothing to do with us), I was able to arrange a visit yesterday to an office that I hoped would provide a decent view of the ledge. Well, the vantage point wasn’t ideal, but it’s the best we can do right now, and it was enough to confirm that Diana is sitting on her eggs.

At first I could see nothing. But after half an hour of scanning, I finally spotted Diana’s wingtips peeking out from behind the wall of the ledge. Hopefully there will be some increased activity or other indication when the eggs hatch.


Over on Heron Rd. yesterday evening, Alex and I watched as Rowena fidgeted and fussed over her nest. She was more visible and active than ever, and spent a lot of time looking down intently.


Ivanhoe perched on the west side of the building, then flew in as we were leaving. Rowena flew off, leaving Ivanhoe on the nest ledge. Rather than sit on the nest, he sat next to it, watching. It would have been the best opportunity so far to catch a glimpse of eggs or chicks in the nest. Unfortunately, the scope was already packed up on the back of my bike, we were already down the hill at Heron, and it was getting dark. I figured that by the time I could get back up onto the overpass, set up the tripod and scope and take a look, it would be too dark and/or someone would be back on the nest. So I decided to come back during the weekend for another look.

While we didn’t spot any chicks, the falcons’ behaviour suggests that hatching is imminent or has already started.