by Mark Nash and Kenn Chapman
It was a typical late-July day: hot and humid. The observation team, consisting mostly of volunteers from The Toronto Ornithological Club, was in place atop 1 Toronto St. Both fledglings had been active since the morning, with frequent forays from the nest ledge to various roof tops in the area.
The chicks had been flying for about three weeks, and were gaining more confidence and strength as each day passed. But as with any kid, a little confidence can sometimes go too far ...
One of the chicks decided to do a little flying around and eventually perched somewhere out of sight from the observation team. This was not an uncommon event. There were still some street observers keeping an eye on the meandering whereabouts of the chicks as they flitted from one building to another.
About fifteen minutes later, the observers were concentrating on the other chick sitting on the nest ledge. One of them happened to glance northward -- just in time to catch a glimpse of the other chick that attempted to land on the smoke stack on top of 60 Adelaide St E. Almost immediately she disappeared.
The observer immediately alerted the rest of the team, who spent the next several minutes watching for the chick to reappear. The first observer wasn't sure, but thought it looked as though the chick had fallen down into the chimney.
Finally Peter Ewins of the Canadian Wildlife Service was notified and he arrived at the observation post shortly afterward. Once he was apprised of the situation, he "borrowed" a couple of maintenance workers from 1 Toronto St. and proceeded over to 60 Adelaide St. E. At once they encountered a problem: the building was completely locked because it had been vacant for several years. The police were called, who in turn located the property manager. Entrance into the building was finally forced.
The first thing they did was go up to the roof to have a look around. There was no sign of the chick. After a thorough search, they began to realize their worst fear -- that the original suspicion of the observer who had seen the incident was correct: the chick had fallen down the chimney.
A search was begun throughout the building. The boiler was not on the roof; nor was it found in the basement. They finally located it on one of the middle floors. Next they had to break into the boiler.
More equipment was brought in, and after some effort, the access plate was removed from the front of the boiler. They looked inside and -- there she was, looking very dirty, very confused, and very annoyed. She was removed from the boiler, and carefully examined for any possible injuries. There being none, she was taken to the roof of 33 Victoria St. where she was released. Despite her traumatic bad-hair-day, she was obviously pleased to see her sister again.
Until then, several names for the chicks were still being considered, including "Laurel and Hardy". There was no further question of the names after the boiler was opened. The expression on the chick's face as she sat there looking out at the world said it all: "Well, isn't this another fine mess I've gotten myself into!"
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