Pringle graduates from basic flight training

Pringle has graduated from basic flight training to the advanced class, so we wrapped up the official Falcon Watch on Friday. Sorry for the delay in posting, but I needed a few days’ rest.

Thanks to Claire, Tim and Marian for braving the rain on the final day, and to Frank for checking in on Friday evening. Scroll down to see a photo he took of Pringle (left) and his mom Rowena perched on the south side at dusk, and another of Pringle standing guard over the flag (he’s on the very top left, on the corner of the roof).

Frank says he saw Pringle knock one of his parents off a ledge. That may make the young bird sound like a juvenile delinquent, but rest assured this is normal behaviour at this stage.

I also received reports on the weekend from Janet (Pringle was perched on the south side late Saturday morning), Rémy (Pringle was having breakfast on the nest ledge around 9:15 a.m Sunday, and one of the adults was nearby), and Phil (no sign of falcons later on Sunday). I dropped by on Saturday afternoon to see what the noise was like from the music festival at the RA Centre — not as loud as Thursday’s sound check, but bylaw officers promised to monitor the situation. The falcons were not hanging around, so we can conclude they’re not fond of really, really loud electronic dance music.

If you have the time and the interest, we encourage you to continue checking in on the falcons this summer, and to let us know if you see any accidents, incidents, interesting behaviour or fantastic feats of flying that you think are worth reporting.


Photo by Frank Marshall.


Not to be unpatriotic, but …

The big news today: Nancy arrived to join Tim on the morning shift only to find workers on the roof right over the nest, getting ready to hang a big Canadian flag on the south face of the Data Centre — right in front of the nest ledge. This was a surprise, because we’d asked for the flag — which must hang on all federal buildings in time for Canada Day, as per the government’s orders — to be installed on the east side, where it would be less likely to endanger a Peregrine Falcon chick just getting his wings.

Turns it it was the contractor’s mistake, and they corrected it, but not before causing our falcon family a lot of obvious anxiety. After a fruitless attempt to chase the workers away from the nest, Rowena joined Ivanhoe and Pringle on the west side of the building to wait out the intrusion. Kudos to Nancy for raising the alarm, and to Tim McNally of SNC-Lavalin for taking quick action and also making sure the flag was hung lower and further to the north, to avoid blocking the falcons’ access to their “larder”, the ledge where they cache their food.


In other news …

Tim (the volunteer, not the SNC-Lavalin guy) had to leave late in the morning, I joined Nancy after 12, and Pringle spent most of the afternoon sleeping or perching on the west wall. He took a couple of short flights from ledge to ledge and another very long one, in which he disappeared from view for a few minutes, then reappeared in the distance from the direction of Hog’s Back. The first time a falcon chick flies so far that you lose sight of it  is always a heart-stopping moment, and a relief when it comes back.

After his little sortie, Pringle went back to calmly perching and preening on the south ledges. He had very little interaction with his parents, and did very little screeching. Either he was well fed in the early morning, or his parents had left him some food on the ledges where we couldn’t see it.

Nancy and I didn’t really think Pringle wasn’t going to exert himself much more after his one long flight, and he certainly didn’t look inclined to more activity. As does happen from time to time (okay, often in anticipating falcon behaviour), we were wrong. At around 5:30 he rather abruptly flew behind the building. We expected him to loop around, as he often does, but he didn’t come back. So I went looking for him and found him perched on the northwest corner of the roof. He right away took off again, this time circling over the buildings and parking lot for a minute, taking a little test dive, and then flying southwest.

This time, Nancy and I were able to track him off and on as he soared over the area south of Heron, between Bronson and Hog’s Back. He was flying with one of the adults, but they were so far away and high up that we completely lost them for what seemed like an eternity. I eventually made my way up to the highest point on Bronson and scanned the horizon, but still could not see them. In these situations, there’s little to do but wait and watch the sky, so we did — for a full 17 minutes until he reappeared and landed smoothly on a ledge. Dominique had dropped by in the meantime, and Frank soon followed, which was a relief because Nancy and I had to sit for a minute to calm down and let the adrenaline settle.

I left pretty soon after, but Nancy later reported that Pringle took another long flight, this time disappearing for half an hour. He probably heard about the Escapades Music Festival  happening at the RA Centre this weekend, and is training so he can get as far away as possible from the deep thump-thump-thump we heard during tonight’s sound check. We’re concerned that the loud, bone-rattling bass will seriously disturb the falcons and damage their hearing. With Pringle still building his strength, they won’t simply abandon their home base for three days straight. So we’ve alerted the festival organizers to the fact that there’s a Peregrine Falcon family just up the hill from their megaspeakers, and we hope they’ll be kind enough to turn down the bass a little.

UPDATE (28 June, 1 p.m.): The festival organizers say they are looking into ways to mitigate some of the noise.



Getting sleepy

The title of this post does not referring to Pringle. He’s already been fast asleep for hours on the edge of the Data Centre roof. No, the title refers to all the volunteers, me included.

Claire, Lorraine, Brian, Marian, Laura, Rick, James and I all spent a few hours today running around following Pringle or craning our necks trying to find him when he disappeared on the roof. His takeoffs and landings are improving each day and his flying seemed less flappy today, but he’s still very much a novice compared to his parents.

The most interesting report of the day came from Laura, who says she saw Pringle actually give chase to a small bird. Not surprisingly, it got away.

Far more surprising was the absence of both adults at sunset. After a good meal, a bit of flying and some time with his mom, Pringle settled into the southwest corner of the roof. Rowena had flown off, and we hadn’t seen Ivanhoe in quite some time, so he was alone. Usually the parents come back at nightfall, but there was no sign of them. They may have installed themselves on another side of the building, out of sight, and left Pringle alone to build his independence. But after three nights of Rowena herding him to a ledge at dusk, it was odd to see him still on his own at 9:30 p.m.

Anyway, I’m too tired to post much, so here are some photos taken just before sunset.

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Family flight lesson

Frank shot this cool footage of Pringle flying with his parents, Ivanhoe and Rowena, on Tuesday evening. It’s apparent which falcon is the chick, because he’s very flappy compared to the experienced adults.