Here, catch!

Data on the security camera with Amber on the top right, and Ivanhoe below, in his favourite spot. Photo by Frank Marshall.

Yesterday morning very early, the falcons were nowhere to be seen. Had the chicks retreated to a shady spot on the roof? Did the whole family go hunting together? Were they simply taking advantage of the more comfortable weather to stretch their wings after two days of oppressive heat and humidity? It was 7:45 a.m. before I got a partial answer: Rowena flew in briefly, and Ivanhoe emerged from the back corner of his favourite ledge. Still no chicks, though.

Tim arrived at 9 to take over, and after we looked for the chicks some more, I left at 9:45. As I drove along Heron Rd., I spotted a falcon chick on the roof of the Tilley Building at the corner of Riverside. I doubled back to let Tim know that at least one of the chicks was alive and well, and as I got ready to leave again, a chick (the same one?) flew back, squawking, and soon retreated to the roof. Amber appeared at noon, just in time for her lunch, while Data continued sleeping. When I returned at 1, Ivanhoe was on the west side of the building, Data on the roof, Rowena on the east side, and Amber out of sight again. The falcons were coping with the heat better than I was, and I was forced to head home just past 2.

Dominique arrived a bit later and witnessed a real breakthrough for Amber. Here’s her report:

Amber and Data flew to meet Rowena on her return.  She had a dead pigeon in her talons, and after a bit of flying, she decided that her chicks were near enough; she dropped the pigeon for the chicks to fly onto, but nobody managed to catch it — it landed on the centre of the parking lot.  As Steve brought the pigeon carcass to a grassy knoll, the chicks flew back to the building, and Amber screeched for some food. Rowena left, flying eastward.

At 4:00 Rowena returned with another bird.  When she dropped it this time, Amber, who had lifted off at her mother’s return, caught it in flight and brought it to a ledge six rows down [much lower than she usually lands, but it was likely her first time carrying something in flight].  She remained there for three hours, eating, grooming and waiting. Staff watched her from inside, and two of them came to see us: they said that the bird she was eating was brownish and biggish; our best estimate so far is that it was a pigeon. Data was fed by his father around 6:15: Ivanhoe brought a bird on the southwest corner, flew north with it and seems to have left the bird to Data, who had appeared briefly for the occasion, flying west as well, at the same time.

Here’s some video from Frank:

Amber gradually made her back to the nest ledge for the evening with a series of gentle and graceful flights that showed off her skill. Her brother had arrived on the ledge a few minutes before, following Ivanhoe, who had flown there briefly himself as if acting as a guide.

Meanwhile, a young pigeon flew onto a nearby ledge, in full view of the three birds. It then ventured to the very ledge where Ivanhoe was, only to see the falcon charge in its direction. The pigeon seems to have flown away quickly enough to avoid the worst.

We left the watch at 9:00, with the two chicks close to one another, safely tucked where we had seen them nine days ago for the first time, and their father in attendance, on the top ledge of the first column of the south side.

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