The Canadian Peregrine Foundation


Article 7:
A Hardy Crash

by Kenn Chapman
(July 5, 1995)

It was an exciting day. The chicks had flown for the first time yesterday, and today the Ministry scheduled a news conference on the top floor of 1 Toronto St. Mark was invited to attend the news conference, and left me behind in the office with a radio.

Just as the news conference was concluding, Mark radioed over to report that one of the chicks had dropped out of site. Marion was in the office at the time, and agreed to go downstairs - with the radio - to see what she could see from the 19th floor. Shortly after, unknown to me, she went down to the street to walk around and look for the chick. It was still considered a grave danger to the chicks should one fall into the street and be run over by a car.

As I continued looking out our office window, I caught sight of the chick, just as she was taking off from the roof below us (the building next door is 10 stories shorter). That is where she had flown to - out of sight from the 1 Toronto St. viewing area. What happened next took about 3 seconds.

The chick took off from the building, heading up towards the roof of the feeding building at 33 Victoris St. Instead of flying up to the roof, she flew straight into the window of the second to last story of the building. Immediately she dropped straight down to the lower roof patio - a drop of about 75 feet.

Judging by the lack of response from the group at 1 Toronto St, I concluded that nobody there had seen this mishap. I quickly ran downstairs to the 19th floor to find Marion with the radio so I could contact Mark and let him know what had happened. Marion was nowhere to be seen. It was later that I learned she had gone down to the street to look for the missing chick.

I returned to our office, in a state of panic. I could see the chick lying still on the patio roof across the street, and I could see the ministry people as well as Mark on the balcony further behind on Toronto St. But I had no way to contact them.

I started waving my arms frantically through the window, hoping Mark would finally look over this way and see me. Well, he did - about seven or eight minutes later. He realized something must be up and found a phone inside the office area, and called me. I then explained what had happened. He immediately went downstairs to the street, contacted Marion, and together they went into 33 Victoria Street, up to the fourth floor, and got permission from the company there to go out on to the patio roof. I watched as they carefully wrapped the downed chick in Mark's jacket and took him inside.

What happened after that is the subject of the next story.

Meanwhile I had begun speculating on why the chick flew into the window. There are two possible reasons:

(1) She was trying to gain altitude - remember she was trying to ascend approximately 8 stories (80 feet) over the short distance across the street. This being only her second day ever of flying, she did not yet have the strength to gain that much altitude, and consequently crashed into the window two stories below her objective.

(2) As she took off from the lower building, she saw an "opening in the cliff" - the window reflecting blue sky. Thinking this was indeed an opening, she determined to fly through it and continue upward to the perch further on. Of course, it was not n opening at all, as she found to her shock and dismay.

I am inclined to believe that the second explanation is the more probable one. As she approached the window, she did not slow down at all. Instead she flew straight into the glass at full speed, head first. If she had thought there was anything other than an opening there, instinct would have told her to slow down, put on the brakes, or swerve away from the obstruction. There was no hesitation on her part as she slammed into the window. She must have believed she was flying through an opening in the cliff toward blue sky. It was a rather hard lesson for such a young life - although it wouldn't be her last hard lesson as we would learn a couple of weeks later.

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