Falcon Watch starting on Saturday, June 21

Calling all volunteers! We’ll be staring the Falcon Watch on Saturday, June 21, at 875 Heron Rd. Find out what’s involved, sign up for shifts, and check the schedule to see when we most need help.

We have THREE chicks to chase after this year, so it’s going to be a lot of fun!

If you’ve never volunteered for us before and want to see what it’s like, drop by the Data Centre on June 21 or 22.

Volunteers will initially be stationed near the lawn and parking area south of the building (closer to the Transitway station than to the building). However, we will need to move around to follow the chicks as they begin flying.

How old are we?

Back to the Data Centre today for another look. Ivanhoe was perched on the nest ledge, watching over his little family, while Rowena soared overhead, tracing in big circles in the sky.

The chicks were visible and active, and at least two were stretching their wings, affording decent views of their feather development. In the first photo, the underside of the wing reveals flight feathers emerging from their shafts. This is consistent with day 22, at least according to the Peregrine Falcon age guide I have in my hands.

The second photo is a puzzler — it’s either a younger chick with no wing feathers yet visible, or I’m looking at it all wrong. The chicks’ faces in the last photo are about right for 20-22 days, but I welcome other, more expert, opinions on their age.

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Triple threat!

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Three chicks at the Data Centre, 5 June 2014.

I finally made it back to the Data Centre this evening for another look at the two chicks in fading daylight.

At first, nothing to see except for Ivanhoe and Rowena, who appeared to have switched spots — that is, Rowena had commandeered Ivanhoe’s favourite perch on the top left ledge, and he was one ledge to the right. It was nap time, and both appeared to be doing their best to ignore the nest ledge.

I watched and I waited, and I waited and I watched, but saw no movement besides a dark feather stuck to the front of the nest ledge, fluttering in the wind.

FInally, a flash of white fluff appeared next to the notorious brown lump in the centre of the ledge! Then a head, briefly, and then another head. I snapped some photos through my scope, hoping to get an image sharp enough that I could finally age the chicks with some accuracy.

Then, suddenly, three heads in a fuzzy little huddle! (Right after leaving the site, I was thrilled to see Dominique Marshall crossing the street — someone with whom to share the exciting news!)

Based on the photo below, and the lack of obvious feather development, I estimate the chicks (or on of them, anyway) to be around 20 or 21 days old — but I welcome other opinions. If I’m right, and they hatched around the May 16, the Falcon will need to start around June 21.

Stay tuned!

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Data Centre, 5 June 2014.

Volunteers needed for the Falcon Watch

We recently confirmed that two Peregrine Falcon chicks have hatched at the Data Centre, at 875 Heron Rd. near Bronson. It’s too soon to tell with much accuracy how old they are, but they probably hatched around May 19, so they should fledge at the end of June.

That means the OFNC’s Ottawa Peregrine Falcon Watch will once again need volunteers to monitor the chicks as they take their first flights. Right now, I expect we’ll start dawn-to-dusk monitoring around June 24 and continue for about two weeks, or until the chicks are flying (and landing!) with confidence. We’ll confirm the exact dates and post a sign-up sheet and schedule online very soon.

Please email volunteer@falconwatch.ca if you would like to participate in the Falcon Watch.

Two!

I went to check on the Data Centre nest again this afternoon, hoping to get a better look at the chick and maybe estimate its age. I did indeed get a better look, but can’t yet say with any confidence when the chick hatched. Roy John did tell me that his Monday morning birding group saw an adult Peregrine standing over the nest on their last outing, looking down, so it may have hatched by then.

As I stood there watching for the chick’s head to pop up — which it did, intermittently — I wondered if I wasn’t seeing an errant wing also pop up occasionally, but in the wrong place. Sure enough, after 10 minutes of careful observation, I saw two little fuzzy heads pop up together.

The photographic evidence, as usual with these nest shots, is less than impressive, but I did manage a frame showing one chick’s head.

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Data Centre, May 25, 2014.