Goldfinches beware!

It was a relief to find all the Peregrine Falcons safe early this morning, after last night’s terrible storm. They all seemed exhausted, though, as there was little movement. I only saw the three chicks fly together once, and not for very long. Mom Rowena offered just a bit of food, so Luis tried briefly to catch his own by chasing some passing passerines. But other that some very short flights, the raptors stayed close to home and out of the surprisingly cold wind.

When Kevin, John and Chris arrived, there was some excitement as an adult brought a whole pigeon. There was more flying throughout the morning, and still more during the afternoon, when Anna and Steve watched the falcons fly for long periods of time. They reported strong and solid landings (for the most part) by all chicks, but also pointed out that one chick didn’t seem to go after the food when the adults dropped it off.

When I arrived for the evening shift with Moira, the chicks had calmed down, and most of the family stayed on the south face of the Data Centre — not surprising, in the wake the previous night’s wild west winds.

Anna and Moira

Anna and Moira

Three chicks

Three chicks

We watched Luis chase an American Goldfinch over the parking lot. He seemed to get the idea, pursuing the little bird as it flew up, down and around. Eventually, though, the speedy young falcon overtook the Goldfinch and kept going. Imagine being chased by a lion, then watching the lion run right past you!

Ivanhoe, post-hunt

Ivanhoe, post-hunt

American Crow feather

Fresh American Crow feather

It wasn’t the only curious sight of the evening.

Following a food drop, we saw Ivanhoe sporting obvious, colourful evidence of a successful hunt. Someone who did not know what lethal predators Peregrines are might think someone had shot Ivanhoe in the belly.

While circling the building to find a chick (seeing all three at once is becoming increasingly rare), I heard American Crows cawing and looked up to see Ivanhoe chasing them through the trees. One was so frightened that it shed a flight feather, which I floated through the air and landed on the grass.

Later, we saw Rowena flying with a three-foot-long stringy thing — pigeon entrails, perhaps?

My overall impression at this point is that the three chicks can control their flights quite well. As Steve pointed out, they are even starting to adopt their parents’ upward-swoop ledge-landing technique. By converting their horizontal speed into a steep vertical lift, they can use their momentum to reach the ledge from below, rather than approaching from above or having to brake hard for a head-on approach.

Still, as the evening progresses, they seem to lose both their energy and their accuracy. Moira and I saw several missed landings, a few very clumsy ones, and a couple of tumbles from the roof edges on landing. One even did her best Bat Falcon impression, clinging to the southeast corner of the building before flying a wide loop to land on the roof.

The roof landings always strike me as the easy way out, especially when the roof in question is on the annex. So they all still need some practice. The good news is that they have always recovered from their stumbles, and one did manage to land on security cameras several times before ducking back onto the roof.

I wonder where I’ll find the chicks tomorrow.

Balancing act

Balancing act

Fully clothed tonight

I was better prepared for the weather tonight, compared to Wednesday night, with rain gear and completely opaque clothing.

3 thoughts on “Goldfinches beware!

  1. I really enjoy reading your fledge watch updates, Anouk.
    Last summer I was in Ottawa & visited the Heron Rd. Data Centre nest site with one of your volunteers, Anne.
    I am wondering if you have any news of Diana & Janus on the Ottawa Delta Hotel? I have also visited that nest site while in Ottawa.
    I am a volunteer for the PF Recovery Project in Winnipeg, Mb.
    We have 3 nest sites in Winnipeg with 10 chicks btw the various nests. Fledge watch should begin here in a few weeks.

  2. Dear Anouk,
    Many thanks for your coordination, attentive updates and beautiful pictures – we had family following the chicks progress all the away from Britain.

  3. I saw the falcon family very active over the Heron Park neighbourhood this morning (July 14). There were at least 3 orbiting around over the forested area northeast of the building over Sawmill Creek, with much shrieking and calling. Later I saw a lone falcon orbiting a little south of there, probably one of the chicks. It buzzed a passing seagull, much to its annoyance.