It’s a wrap!

Ivanhoe: This particular adult male’s dark grey back and wings contrast sharply with his pure white breast and black-and-white barred belly. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman

Rowena, June 20. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman

Rowena: This adult female stands apart from her mate through her bigger size — like all female PEFAs — as well as her browner colouring and the distinctive flecks on her breast. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman

Data: The male chick is an agile flier who isn’t afraid to aggressively chase his parents when he’s hungry. Like all PEFA chicks, his bill and eye ring are blue-grey rather than bright yellow. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman

Amber: This female chick is less agile but a more powerful flier than her brother. PEFAs chicks are the same size as the adults by the time they fledge. Photo by Anouk Hoedeman

Both chicks, Data and Amber, are flying well, and their parents Ivanhoe and Rowena continue to train them in the art of being Peregrine Falcons. As a result, we decided to wrap up the 2012 Falcon Watch on Friday, June 22.

At nine days (counting the first, partial day when I confirmed the nest site), this must be one of the shortest watches ever. Chalk it up to a very late start for us, two strong chicks, and a flight-training environment that’s much safer than the one downtown. Data began flying the day after we began monitoring the raptors, and Amber took flight three days later.

The chicks are already venturing to perches on surrounding buildings and will soon learn to hunt, but they’ll stay relatively close to their home base until they migrate in late summer. While both chicks still face challenges, we’re past the point where our continuous presence is likely to make an immediate difference in their safety. That said, CRA employees, some local residents and other falcon fans will continue to keep an eye out for the birds and know where to reach us if there’s a mishap. And since many people have asked about this: We have been assured that the big flag that usually goes on the south side of the building for Canada Day will be hung elsewhere, to avoid interfering with the nest site.

A big thank you to the volunteers who were able to come out to give us a hand, and also to those who offered to help but were unavailable until the weekend. And I apologize if anyone did offer to work a shift and we didn’t get back to you. This was a hastily organized effort, so some messages may well have fallen through the cracks.

We would also like to thank the building managers and security staff at 875 Heron Rd., especially Adam and Jason. They — and everyone else on site — were extremely helpful and accommodating, especially considering the short notice. We are grateful for all the information about this falcon family that we were able to glean from numerous people who work in the building, and we very much enjoyed chatting with curious passersby and answering their questions.

We expect Ivanhoe and Rowena to remain for the winter and to nest again next year (we now with certainty that they were here last year too, and raised two chicks). That, and the possibility that Diana will find a new mate, means we may have two Falcon Watch sites next year. We hope you will be able to join us, and we promise to provide more notice to volunteers next time!

In the meantime, if you have a chance to watch the new falcon family in action, please feel free to share your photos, videos and updates on their progress.

Morning update

Tim Loucks and I took the first shift, and Dominique Marshall joined us for a while. After the male chick flew to the next ledge over, where Mom was, the female chick started flapping like mad, clearly wanting to join her brother.

Female chick on the nest ledge.

We were ready to run but then things settled down for a while. But by the time Marian Bird and Gillan Mastromatteo arrived for the shift, the male chick was getting restless. He made several longish flights in quick succession, practicing his landings.

He also managed to fly to where his parents had left him food on the SW corner of the roof, and he plucked it himself! After that well deserved meal, he began flying again and at one point spent 3 minutes (Gillian timed it) soaring high overhead.

He’s doing tremendously well and, after the first few times sprinting around the building to keep him in sight, Marian and I decided we weren’t running after him anymore unless there appeared to be something very wrong. One thing to note: He flies alarmingly low to swoop in for landings on the east face, because he’s figured out that not all the lower ledges have spikes.

The female chick is still working on her first flight, but I don’t think it will be too long now before she gives it a shot.