Spring – and falcons – are in the air!

With the snow melting and songbirds singing, the thoughts of Ottawa’s resident Peregrines are most likely turning to raptor romance.

We’d appreciate your reports of any courtship behaviour between Diana and her new, as yet unnamed, mate at the Delta Hotel (Albert & Lyon), and between Ivanhoe and Rowena at the CRA Data Centre (Heron & Bronson).

By monitoring this behaviour, we’ll know when to start checking for signs that the falcons are sitting on eggs. Once we confirm incubation, we’ll have a better idea of when the eggs might hatch. And if we know when the eggs hatch, we’ll know when the chicks will start learning to fly.

Of course, if you see Peregrine Falcons engaging in this type of behaviour anywhere else in the Ottawa area, we’d like to know that too!

What should you be looking for? Here are a few Peregrine Falcon courtship behaviours you might see:

BOWING:  Leaning forward, head low, often with the tail held high.

LEDGE DISPLAY: Either the male or female stands over the scrape (nest depression), leans forward (bowing) and makes an “ee-chupping” vocalization. The male often stares at the female during his ledge display.

MUTUAL LEDGE DISPLAY: This often follows a solo ledge display. The other bird joins the first on the ledge and both bow and ee-chup over the scrape, sometimes touching bills. They may do this at other locations as well.

SCRAPING: Either bird can do this, often following a ledge display. The falcon pushes its breast through the gravel or other nesting substrate, with its legs behind. They may do this on several potential ledges before chosing one where they’ll lay the eggs. (Peregrines don’t build a nest as such, but simply form a depression in material, like gravel, that’s already present.)

FOOD TRANSFER: The male approaches or stands near the female with food in his talons or beak, ee-chupping. The female takes the food, usually ee-chupping or wailing. This can happen in mid-air or while one or both birds are perched. The male often signals that he has food by wailing as he approaches the nest.

3 thoughts on “Spring – and falcons – are in the air!

  1. 2 falcons were observed on the south ledge ~19th floor of the Delta March 27th ~4PM. One had caught and was plucking a pigeon, the other observing on the ledge. The second bird was seen “bowing” to the first falcon and then at some point flew away.

  2. Thank you Annouk. We will be watching as we walk pass the data centre every day.

    Will you be asking the Data Centre to place a box o nt he ledge? Is there a way to make the ledge more secure?