Volunteers needed for the Falcon Watch

We recently confirmed that two Peregrine Falcon chicks have hatched at the Data Centre, at 875 Heron Rd. near Bronson. It’s too soon to tell with much accuracy how old they are, but they probably hatched around May 19, so they should fledge at the end of June.

That means the OFNC’s Ottawa Peregrine Falcon Watch will once again need volunteers to monitor the chicks as they take their first flights. Right now, I expect we’ll start dawn-to-dusk monitoring around June 24 and continue for about two weeks, or until the chicks are flying (and landing!) with confidence. We’ll confirm the exact dates and post a sign-up sheet and schedule online very soon.

Please email volunteer@falconwatch.ca if you would like to participate in the Falcon Watch.


I went to check on the Data Centre nest again this afternoon, hoping to get a better look at the chick and maybe estimate its age. I did indeed get a better look, but can’t yet say with any confidence when the chick hatched. Roy John did tell me that his Monday morning birding group saw an adult Peregrine standing over the nest on their last outing, looking down, so it may have hatched by then.

As I stood there watching for the chick’s head to pop up — which it did, intermittently — I wondered if I wasn’t seeing an errant wing also pop up occasionally, but in the wrong place. Sure enough, after 10 minutes of careful observation, I saw two little fuzzy heads pop up together.

The photographic evidence, as usual with these nest shots, is less than impressive, but I did manage a frame showing one chick’s head.


Data Centre, May 25, 2014.



I stopped by the Data Centre yesterday (Wednesday) and found one of the adults perched next to the nest. Interesting. Soon, it climb back into the nest, but stood there, hunched over, rather than hunkering down flat as usual. Also interesting. Based on the behaviour, I suspected there was either a chick already or hatching in progress, but I couldn’t see anything other than the adult Peregrine.

So I returned this evening (Thursday), and found an adult standing in the nest. I thought it seemed small and rather dark, so guessed it was Ivanhoe. My suspicions were confirmed five minutes later when a much larger and browner adult landed on the ledge. Rowena had left Ivanhoe to tend to the nest, but now she was back and eager to take over from him.

As the two adults switched places, I saw it! The top of a round, white, fluffy head and a hint of dark eyes barely peeking above the edge of the nest. It was a fairly fleeting but unmistakable glimpse, repeated a few minutes later.

Did I get pictures? Oh come on — you try! Best I could do was this photo of Rowena looking all proud and maternal … or something. Use your imagination!

I’ll try to get more views in the coming days to determine the chick’s age, so stay tuned. But it’s probably safe to say we’ll have a the Falcon Watch starting in late June.


Still waiting …

I last checked the Data Centre nest site on Friday. Rowena is still on the nest, and no sign yet of chicks. She’s always facing into the corner, it seems, so all I see are her wingtips.

I will continue checking as often as I can.

May 9, 2014.

Data Centre, May 9, 2014.

Dining downtown

Lately, I’ve been doing daily patrols for our new FLAP initiative in Ottawa, looking for birds injured or killed by collisions with downtown buildings. Naturally, whenever I’m near the Delta Hotel at Albert and Lyon, I look up to see if the resident Peregrines are there.

I haven’t seen them in about three weeks, which might seem worrisome but for the fact that there has been plenty of evidence that they are around. Twice I’ve found parts of Northern Flicker wings — their bright yellow shafts are a dead giveaway, so to speak.

This morning’s find, though, was rather more macabre: two very fresh flicker heads, plus an entire Flicker wing. These were clustered on the sidewalk directly below the northeast corner of the Delta. Tellingly, one man who saw me taking photos just smiled and looked up knowingly. Another man pointed up and said nonchalantly to the woman next to him: “C’est les faucons.”


Who would have thought, 20 years ago, that people living and working in downtown Ottawa would react so casually to Peregrine Falcon food scraps at their feet?

While I do feel badly for those Northern Flickers, I also feel relieved to find strong evidence that Diana and Janus are nesting. How so? Well, for much of the year, I know I have a good chance of seeing one or both Peregrines at the Delta if I simply bother to look up. If I don’t see one, ever, in three weeks of daily visits, there are two logical explanations: 1) they’re not using their usual nest site or 2) one Peregrine is sitting on eggs and the other is off hunting for both. The ex-Flickers support the latter theory.