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.

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