One day about the middle of March 1995, Mark noticed some activity outside his office
window. At first he thought it was just a bunch of pigeons flying back and forth, but then
he took a closer look. At first he wasn't sure of what he was seeing, so he called an
assistant in for a second opinion. Sure enough, what he was seeing was a pair of peregrine
falcons, flying about from one building top to another. By late afternoon, it was evident
that these birds were favoring a ledge on the building directly across from the office
Peter Whelan from the Globe and Mail was called. He arrived around noon, and further confirmed that indeed a pair of peregrine falcons were apparently in the process of establishing a nest site. He then contacted Peter Ewins of the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada who visited the office the next day. Now it was official. Two peregrine falcons were in the process of establishing a nest in downtown Toronto - for the first time ever (and the first time in over 40 years in Southern Ontario).
There will be a nest
It was soon confirmed that this pair was the same that was seen a couple of weeks earlier on top of the Sheraton Hotel, where one egg was laid before being abandoned.
The nest was established, and the peregrines settled down to the business of making a family. Mating activity was observed a few times, and about April 26, two (maybe three) eggs were laid in the gravelly nest on the ledge on the west side of the building on the northwest corner of King and Victoria Sts.
Kingsley continued behaving as all good peregrine expectant daddies are expected to behave. He regularly brought food to the nest for Victoria, and stood guard over the nest from a few selected vantage points. Occasionally through the day, he would take over nesting duties to allow Victoria a chance to stretch her wings.
Toronto's peregrine population explodes
On or about May 27, two eggs hatched, and within a couple of days two furry white balls could be seen poking around on the ledge from the roof of the King Edward Hotel.
A frequent visitor to the office observation site was Peter Whelan from the Globe and Mail. Truly a paragon of patience and integrity, he knew what a story he was sitting on, but he also accepted the importance of keeping this "news" as quiet as possible until the chicks had fledged.
All precautions were taken to protect the nest site. (1) Peter sat on the story. (2) The building property manager was instructed to have no windows washed until the end of the summer;. (3) Maintenance workers repairing the air conditioning system on the roof were cautioned, then warned, then threatened not to disturb the nesting site.
The world is informed
On June 23rd, when the birds were close to fledging, a press conference was held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada. All TV stations/networks and newspapers were attendant, and the story made the evening news across Canada. Peter Whelan was rewarded for his patience by being granted permission to publish his story first - on the front page of that morning's Globe and Mail.
The significance of this event is now a matter of record. This is the first successful nesting of peregrine falcons in Toronto and southern Ontario in over forty years. For a species that was once plentiful, then nearly extinct, this success story bodes well for the survival and growth of peregrine falcons in Ontario. The fact that the parents - Kingsley and Victoria - have stayed around through the winter and are now rebuilding the same nest site again, promises to offer birders another exciting summer in the downtown core of Toronto.
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