What a difference a day makes!

Following yesterday’s post concerning the downtown Peregrine Falcons and Connor’s disappearance, we received an email from a volunteer concerning another family of falcons in the Billings Bridge area, and a dead falcon found there earlier this week. She put me in touch with building management, I went there to check and, sure enough, there are two chicks up on a ledge! I also confirmed (you don’t want to know how) that the dead falcon was a chick that had probably fallen to its death on Sunday or early Monday. Sad as that is, it would have been far worse to have found out it was an adult.

I talked to several people at the building and received various contradictory bits of information. (This must be what it’s like when police interview witnesses — everyone’s certain of what they saw, but everyone saw something different). Luckily my Falcon Watch co-co-ordinator(!) Chris Traynor was able to join me in the afternoon and we spent the better part of the day watching this family and talking to people to figure out what’s been going on here. (Forensic birding, we’re calling it.)

This is our conclusion: The chicks, one male and one female, have not yet flown but are close to it. There’s certainly a lot of wing-flapping and beetle-walking going on between naps and feedings. There were even a few very brief flights on the ledge, maybe 10 to 20 feet. The adults are in the area but not usually with the chicks, as they want to encourage them to fly. After 7 hours on site, and only a granola bar for lunch, I headed home to eat, email and post this. The adults had just delivered an entire pigeon for dinner (the chicks’, not mine), so I felt they’d be unlikely to fly this evening. Chris checked in again just to be sure, and reports there’s nothing new.

All this, of course, means the Falcon Watch is back on starting now!

If you can volunteer for some shifts, please call or text me at 613-322-5269 (you can also email ottawa@falconwatch.ca, but there’s no wi-fi on site, so I can’t check my email if I’m there). As usual, there will be four shifts per day: from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.. Considering how far along the chicks are, we don’t expect this Falcon Watch to be very drawn out (i.e. maybe a week or 10 days).

It’s a lovely spot to while away a few hours. There’s grass to sit on, trees for shade, and little traffic nearby. It’s also right next to a Transitway stop. I advise that you bring a chair, water and food, as there’s no coffee shop or other stores located conveniently nearby. Parking costs $7/day or $1.75/30 minutes but not weekends or evenings, I’m told. Alternatively, you could cycle, or park at the RA Centre or Billings Bridge for a few hours, although it’s a bit of a hike up the hill.

Anouk Hoedeman, Peregrine Falcon Watch


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