Falcon-chick births welcome news for Ottawa birders

Once endangered bird of prey re-establishing itself in region

CBC News

A group of Ottawa birders are celebrating the discovery of a family of peregrine falcons, and the birth of two chicks, atop a government building near Carleton University.

For years, the group Ottawa Falcon Watch has known an older couple of the large predatory birds has been making their nest atop the Delta Hotel in downtown Ottawa, but unfortunately, those falcons have had trouble producing more offspring.

Anouk Hoedeman said this year marked the third year in a row the older couple’s eggs have failed to hatch.

But just as her group was mourning that discovery, a volunteer reported that two chicks had been spotted atop a 10-storey building on Heron Road.

Hoedeman and four or five others watched Friday as an adult falcon began plucking the feathers off its prey, a pigeon, to feed its two chicks.

The family of birds includes two adults and two chicks here, a young male and female, about six weeks old.

‘A fun kind of mystery’

Hoedeman said the birders aren’t sure where the family had come from, since their parents had not been tagged with leg bands.

“We couldn’t find a leg band on either one of them, so we have no idea where they came from. It’s a mystery. It’s kind of a fun mystery,” said Hoedeman.

A third chick was also found dead on the ground, having evidently fallen earlier this week.

That has people like James Kennett, who works in the building, volunteering to keep an eye on the newly born birds.

“If the bird takes a header or something like that, you know it’s good to have somebody nearby who can report it,” said Kennett.

Peregrine falcons almost went extinct but have made a comeback and are re-establishing themselves in Ontario. Despite this, they are still considered threatened in the province.

Hoedeman said she and her fellow falcon-watchers will keep an eye on this family, until the chicks take flight, and with luck she says, they’ll be back next year.

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  1. By the way, this reporter arrived at just about the best time anyone could hope, just when the male chick reappeared on the roof and Mom showed up with a pigeon, which was then devoured in plain view. Awesome!