The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Project Track-'em 1999-2000 Season

 

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NATE

 

 


Nate's transmitter sponsored by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society




Tracked September 2, 1999 - August 17, 2000
(additional observations in Project Track-'em 2000-2001 and 2001-2002)

The final episode of Nate's story ended in March 2005. Please see the March 29th and April 5th 2005 reports on the Mississauga Clarkson page. His story has also been published in media other than our own website. See "Late great Nate recalled," an article published on April 21st, 2005 in The Mississauga News for more information.

Nate was one of four young peregrines introduced to Richmond Hill in the summer of 1999 through the Canadian Peregrine Foundation's Project Release.  He and his three brothers were released from the hack box on June 28, and gradually began to acquire the skills required for independence over the course of July and August.  Throughout September, Nate remained near the Richmond Hill Town Hall, then in early October he began his southward journey.   See the map below for his route, and check the "Traveler's Diary" under the map for commentary on his progress.

August 17, 2000:  Guelph.  Nate had a close brush with death earlier this week, but fortunately it looks like he will survive.   A couple of days ago he was found stumbling around on the ground by airport staff, and was rescued by them.  It's unclear at this point what happened to him, but the symptoms suggest that poisoning may well have been involved.  At the University of Guelph's Wild Bird Clinic, Nate's condition was assessed, and the situation looked grim.  However, Nate has again proven himself to be a survivor, and is recovering better than expected.  He will be kept at the Wild Bird Clinic for at least a few more days until his condition improves and an evaluation can be made about his potential for re-release.

August 10, 2000:  Malton.  Throughout the summer so far, Nate has remained more or less in the area of Pearson International Airport.  Not only have we continued to receive coordinates from his satellite transmissions, but we have been getting reports from the bird control staff at the airport, who are responsible of keeping the pigeons, gulls, and other birds away from the runways to ensure safety for the planes taking off and landing.  The Greater Toronto Airport Authority undertook a hack release of three young male peregrines at the airport in July, and Nate seemed to be attracted to the hack box - memories of his youth perhaps.  Apparently on at least a couple of occasions he actually entered the box and took some of the food (quail) intended for the newly released birds - Nate may have learned to take advantage of all opportunities, and never pass up a free meal.

July 2, 2000:  Malton.  During the past few days, Nate seems to have narrowed his focus to the area east of Pearson International Airport.  The two most recent reports from the satellite have placed him along Dixon / Airport Road, along the northeast edge of the airport.

June 27, 2000: Etobicoke / Bramalea.  Over the past couple of weeks, Nate has become somewhat more predictable in his wanderings, with reports being concentrated in two areas.  Three times he has been in the east end of Bramalea, and on another three occasions he has been near Highway 401 in the Islington - Weston corridor.  Whether there are specific buildings in these areas that he is scouting out remains to be seen.

On June 20, Nate made an expedition further south in Etobicoke, and found himself quite near the Etobicoke peregrine nest site at Islington and Bloor.  However, volunteers were outside at the time and did not spot him, so it is likely he did choose to respect Angel and Marco's territory and maintained his distance.

June 10, 2000:  Toronto area.  Nate is still moving about every few days, and we are beginning to wonder when (not to mention where) he will settle down.  The map below summarizes his travels over the past month since returning to southern Ontario.  If there is any pattern to his movements, I'm afraid we haven't been able to identify them yet.  We will update this map again in a couple of weeks if Nate's transmitter continues to broadcast (it will likely soon near the end of its battery life).

May 23, 2000:  43.8N, 79.6W.  Over the past couple of weeks we have received data from Nate every two or three days.  He has remained in the Toronto area throughout this time, although rarely in the same location more than once.  There have been two reports from  Etobicoke, three from Scarborough (including two around the Scarborough Town Centre - maybe Nate is hanging out with his brother Rouge), and most recently, a transmission from Vaughan, on the northwest side of Toronto.  We continue to work toward getting a visual sighting of Nate, and hope that will happen soon. 

May 8, 2000:  43.8N, 79.2W.  Although several of us spent time around the Richmond Hill Town Hall on May 6 and 7, we did not catch sight of Nate.  Tonight we received the latest satellite reading from him, which might explain why - he is now along the Scarborough Bluffs!  Perhaps Nate will bounce around the Toronto area for a while, searching for a potential spot to settle down in.  Any area with tall buildings is a potential home...

May 5, 2000: 43.8N, 79.5WNATE IS HOME!  Tonight's reading places him less than 15 kilometres west of the Richmond Hill Town Hall where he was released last summer.  After a journey of over 12,000 kilometres, it is incredible to see Nate's homing instinct bringing him back to this site with such accuracy.

We would not be at all surprised to see Nate return to the Town Hall itself, and perhaps even the hack box, over the coming days.  We urge anyone in the area to keep a lookout for a peregrine wearing a transmitter, and to call the Canadian Peregrine Foundation at (416) 481-1233 as soon as possible if one is seen.

May 3, 2000: 42.8N, 84.7W.  Wow!  Nate has made a sudden and drastic change in direction.  Tonight's update shows him to be just outside of Lansing, Michigan - and it would appear that he is heading back to Ontario at high speed!

If you are in Michigan or southern Ontario, please keep your eyes open, as Nate may be on the way to visit you!  Hopefully we will have another update to report within a few days.

May 1, 2000:  44.8N, 92.1W.  Nate is now further north than he has ever been!  As of this morning, he is in northwest Wisconsin, directly east of Minneapolis and St. Paul (where there are peregrines currently nesting).

With the exception of his April 20 position, Nate has followed a rather straight line up through the United States.  What is particularly interesting is that the direction he has been heading in is almost perfectly parallel to the route he followed south in the summer.  This raises the question of whether he is trying to return "home", but has perhaps failed to factor in the displacement caused by going around the Gulf of Mexico rather than across it.

As always, we eagerly await the next report from Nate.  Will he slow down (or stop entirely) now that he has reached northern latitudes again?  Will he continue north for a while longer, and perhaps join the Ontario peregrines in the Thunder Bay area?  Will he somehow realize that he is far west of where he started out, and attempt to head back east toward Ontario?  Only time will tell. 

April 27, 2000:  36.0N, 96.7W.  The change of direction near San Antonio did not last.  Today's update shows that Nate is in north central Oklahoma, to the west of Tulsa and northeast of Oklahoma City.  He has therefore resumed heading north/northeast, and is not currently on a path which will bring him anywhere near southern Ontario.

April 22, 2000:  29.8N, 98.2W.  As if he suddenly realized that he has veering off course, Nate has made a dramatic change in direction in the past two days.  He is now heading east/northeast through Texas, currently just north of San Antonio.  Now the question is whether he will follow the Gulf Coast further east, head northeast toward Ontario, or ???

April 20, 2000:  29.6N, 99.8W.  Nate has crossed the border, and is roughly 150 km (90 miles) west of San Antonio, Texas.  Interestingly, he has not changed direction - he is still heading north/northwest, and no longer following the coastline.  If he keeps this up, he will end up somewhere in the Rockies rather than back in Ontario.

April 18, 2000:  25.9N, 99.1W.  The USA looms on the horizon for Nate, who has now made it almost to the north end of Mexico, and is about to enter Texas.

April 15, 2000:  20.4N, 97.6W.  Nate continues to stay over land, and appears to now be following the east coast of Mexico.  If this pattern continues, we should expect him to be in Texas within a few days.  Where he will choose to head after that, though, remains a complete mystery.

April 13, 2000:  18.8N, 96.7W.  Once again, Nate has been on the move, this time travelling a fair distance to the northwest, ending up near Veracruz, Mexico.

April 11, 2000:  15.9N, 92.3W.  Nate hasn't moved far in the past two days, but has progressed to the Mexican border.

April 9, 2000:  15.2N, 91.2W.  It appears that Nate is following a different route north than the one we tracked him on as he made his way south.  Rather than cross the Gulf of Mexico again, he seems to be heading up through Central America toward Mexico.  As of this morning, he was just northwest of Guatemala City.

April 6, 2000:  10.1N, 83.2W.  Nate has reversed his direction, and is moving back up through Central America.  As of today, he is near Puerto Limon, along the east coast of Costa Rica.  It will be interesting to see in the coming days whether he sticks to land and continues up through Mexico into the USA, or else crosses over the Gulf of Mexico as he did back in October.

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April 4, 2000:  8.6N, 74.7W.  Nate is finally on the move!  For almost five months, he has remained in virtually the same position, just northeast of Cartagena, Colombia.  Just as we were beginning to wonder whether something might be wrong, we received this signal from a few hundred kilometres to the south, indicating that Nate is alive and well.   Now if he would only head north, instead of south!

March 30, 2000:  Location unconfirmed - presumably still 10.4N, 75.4W.  Nate has become a bit of an enigma over the last couple of months.  We have only received occasional reports from his transmitter, with the last one coming in on March 12 (however, we have had trouble receiving data from the satellite since then, and it's possible there have been other reports which have not yet reached us).  As of March 12, the transmitter was still broadcasting from the coast of Colombia.

The big question is whether Nate is still with the transmitter.  To ensure that the transmitters would not remain on the peregrines throughout their lives, they were attached to the birds with a degradable harness (using cotton thread) that was designed to fall off after 10 to 12 months.  It is conceivable that in Nate's case, this happened much sooner.  The reason we suspect this is that peregrines tend to arrive back in southern Ontario around mid-March, and we would expect Nate to follow this pattern, thus for him to still be in South America on March 12 would be quite surprising.  However, it is of course possible that Nate is simply slow to start heading back north.  We will have a better indication of what the situation is when we receive our next update from his transmitter - if it is still broadcasting from Colombia by the end of March, chances are pretty good that the bird is no longer wearing the harness.  If that's the case, Nate may well be back in southern Ontario (or anywhere in the surrounding states or provinces) and we will have to rely on eyewitness reports to locate him.  Please report any sightings of juvenile peregrines to us, especially if you are fortunate enough to see a band number on either leg.

February 8, 2000:  10.4N, 75.5W.  A few days ago (Feb 4) we finally received some nice clear transmissions from Nate, which indicated he was still on the coast of Colombia, although slightly west of his "usual" position.  It's probably just a matter of weeks now until Nate starts to head north, and we hope to be getting regular signals from him throughout his travels.

January 26, 2000:  Location unconfirmed - presumably still 10.4N, 75.4W.  Since the last update, we've had only one clear signal (roughly two weeks ago) from Nate, which again placed him in the same area.  The remainder of the signals were rendered useless due to interference of some kind.  The good news is that the transmitter is still active, and hopefully once Nate begins his northward movement, the reports will become clearer again.

January 2, 2000:  10.4N, 75.4W.  A new report has come in from Nate, proving that our birds (or at least the transmitters) are indeed Y2K-compliant!  As expected, Nate is still in the same spot along the Colombian coast, enjoying the warm weather.

December 20, 1999:  10.4N, 75.4W.  Yesterday night we received a very clear transmission from Nate (the best we've had since he arrived in Colombia) confirming that he remains in the same area.  Hopefully the torrential downpours that have ravaged Venezuela over the past week have not spilled over into Colombia.

December 15, 1999:  10.4N, 75.4W.  Nate's transmitter continues to send out signals every four days (with the occasional gap).  The last three reports all indicate that while he is moving around on a very local scale, he is for the most part staying near the coast, and is still between Cartagena and Baranquilla.

December 4, 1999:  10.4N, 75.4W.  Nate's latest readings indicate he is still in the same area on the coast of Colombia.

November 23, 1999:  10.4N, 75.4W.  As of Monday night, November 21, Nate was still on the coast of Colombia, not far from his last location over a week earlier.   Having now been here for more than half a month, he certainly seems to like something in the area and will likely stay here for the winter (now watch him prove me wrong...).

November 13, 1999:  10.4N, 75.5W.  It's looking more and more like Nate has settled down in northern Colombia.  For the third consecutive report, he is near the coastline between Cartagena and Barranquilla.

November 9, 1999:  10.9N, 75.2W.  Nate has shifted only slightly in the past four days.  He remains along the Colombian coast, approaching Barranquilla.   Evidently his transmitter is still operating every fourth day.  This is the first time that two successive broadcasts from Nate have been so close together, so perhaps this is a sign that he is getting ready to settle down for the winter.

November 6, 1999:  10.6N, 75.4W.  Good news - as of last night, Nate's transmitter was broadcasting again, and indicated he was in northwestern Colombia after all.  He appears to be near the coast, between Cartagena and Barranquilla.    It therefore looks like Nate has chosen to continue heading east, rather than swing down towards Ecuador along the west side of the Andes.

Interestingly, this report from Nate came in 9 days after his last one - what's unclear is whether his transmitter has now switched to the 10-day winter cycle, or else is still on the 4-day cycle, in which case we just missed one.  In a few days we should have an indication.

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November 3, 1999:   Nate is keeping us in suspense - the update we expected Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 did not arrive.   Ironically, Nate was the main subject of a good article in the Globe and Mail on November 1 ("Nate and falcon pals flying into history" by Natalie Southworth), so he has chosen a poor time to suddenly become uncommunicative.  In the article, his latest position was indicated as being northwestern Colombia, which is where I projected him to be on the evening of Oct. 31, given his steady and predictable progress over the previous four weeks.  While this may in fact be the case, we have unfortunately not been able to confirm this.  Considering the surprises that our other three travelers have provided already, I should have known better than to try to guess what a peregrine will do!

In all likelihood, Nate was simply out of transmission range while the satellite passed overhead.  The satellite orbits the earth in an ellipse passing over both poles, and as the earth rotates, the satellite has the opportunity to read signals from different longitudinal bands with each pass.  However, because the earth is "widest" at the equator, it is less likely for the transmitters to be within receiving range of the satellite when the birds are close to it.  This is not to suggest that accuracy is compromised as the birds move south, but it does mean that whereas the satellite may receive half a dozen or more signals during a six-hour transmission period while the birds are in Canada, it frequently establishes contact only 1-3 times once the birds are in Central or the northern part of South America (as they move further south of the equator, contact would presumably improve again).   Every once in a while, there may be a cycle during which not contact can be made at all, which could be what happened with Nate this time around.

The other possibility is that Nate has switched to his "winter schedule".   We have programmed four different duty cycles for each transmitter, so that we can extend the life of the battery through to next summer.  For the winter season, we requested that the frequency of updates be reduced to once every 8 to 10 days.  All four of our birds should switch to this cycle at some point during November; Nate may simply have been the first.  Hopefully we'll have news from him within the next few days.

October 27, 1999:  9.2N, 80.8W.  Nate's journey has now taken him past Costa Rica and as of tonight he is on the north coast of Panama, not far west of the Panama Canal.  If Nate continues to travel at the same pace as he has for the past few weeks, he should reach Colombia within the next two or three days.  At that point he will have to choose between heading east over the north end of the Andes and into Venezuela, or turning south to follow the Pacific side of the Andes toward Ecuador. 

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October 22, 1999:  12.7N, 85.0W.  Nate continues to move south at a steady pace.  Today we received three reports from him which indicated he was flying south/southeast through Honduras and Nicaragua.  The last of the transmissions indicated he was in central Nicaragua.  If he keeps flying in this direction, he will of course soon reach Costa Rica - there he will either have to settle down, change direction to continue along the land mass through Panama, or set out over water again to reach South America.

October 18, 1999:  18.6N, 87.3W.  The latest data from Nate indicates that he is still on the wing, this time offshore east of Belize.  Presumably Nate reached land on the Yucatan Peninsula at some point late on October 14 or early on October 15.  Considering his present location, it would appear that he then spent a few days on the peninsula resting - perhaps taking a short vacation in Cancun!  Now he has decided to move on again, and interestingly he has continued going due south from his last reported location.  This time he's staying relatively close to shore, and may in fact be visiting some of the small offshore islands.  If he maintains his present course, Nate should hit land again in Honduras.

October 14, 1999:  25.1N, 87.3W.  Today's lone satellite transmission indicates that Nate is out over the Gulf Of Mexico, roughly 350 km north of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  Given that there is of course nowhere to rest after leaving the US Gulf Coast, Nate likely started out over the water early in the day (or perhaps the night before).  At any rate, it would indicate that he spent a few days close to the coast before setting out.  Perhaps this hesitation was just a means of resting up for the big flight, or maybe he instinctively was waiting for suitable weather conditions - we can only guess how these birds make their decisions.

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Presumably Nate reached land on the Yucatan Peninsula several hours after the satellite transmission was sent.  Now the question is, will he stay in Mexico, or continue his trip further south?  We will have to wait and see what he does over the next week or so - our next reading from him should come in late on October 18.

Note: Eve Ticknor has pointed out that there are in fact resting places for birds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico, in the form of close to a dozen oil platforms.   There is an ongoing project to monitor migrants at these platforms, being run by the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and the US Department of Interior Mineral Management Services, in cooperation with the oil companies that own and operate the platforms.  Three peregrines have already been sighted from one platform, and very likely others have been spotted elsewhere.  We will attempt to find out more on this topic, and welcome any information that anyone may have on it - please e-mail us if you have any data.

October 10, 1999:  31.6N, 86.4W.  Nate has continued to head in a south-southwest direction, and is now approaching the Gulf of Mexico.  It's evident that he has slowed down considerably in the past four days compared to the previous four.   Is the urge to migrate waning as he reaches warmer areas?  Is he hesitating as he gets closer to the Gulf?  These are just a couple of the many possibilities to explain his behaviour.

We hope to get another reading from Nate later this week, and we are very curious to see whether we will find him on the far side of the Gulf by then.

October 7, 1999:  35.7N, 84.3W.  Nate has become the first of our four Ontario peregrines to cross the US border!  As of yesterday evening, he was located in southeast Tennessee, between Knoxville and Chattanooga (see the red dot on the map at right).  Note: Those of you who have been checking this site regularly will remember that we had originally indicated that Nate was between Jackson and Memphis - that was a map-reading error on my part.

Unfortunately, we can't know what route Nate took between Richmond Hill and Tennessee, as he travelled this entire distance in the four days between satellite transmissions.  However, many raptors head west along the north shore of Lake Erie, cross into Michigan, and then head south loosely along the Mississippi.  Nate's current location is considerably east of the Mississippi, but more or less in the same direction at least.

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October 2, 1999:  43.8N, 79.4W.  Yesterday afternoon I visited the roof of the Richmond Hill Town Hall to check on the hack box, and was surprised to come face to face with Nate, who was standing on the front platform of the box with a tremendously bulging crop.  He hopped down to the roof and ran away from me - I guess he didn't want to fly on a full crop!  This evening we received our latest coordinates for Nate, and they confirmed that he is still in Richmond Hill.

September 22, 1999:  A week has passed between reports from Nate.  Yesterday evening we received the latest coordinates, and found that he is still in the Richmond Hill area, although he seems to be ranging somewhat more widely than before. 

September 15, 1999:  Nate continues to be seen in Richmond Hill periodically around the Town Hall.  Yesterday's data from the satellite transmitter confirms that he is not straying far from home.

Further reports from Nate:
April 2001 to present
July 2001 to January 2002
August 2000 to June 2001


June 1999 to Sept 1999

 

Click here to go to the 1999-2000 Project Track'em page

Click here to go to the 2000-2001 Project Track'em page

Click here to go to the 2001-2002 Project Track'em page

Click here to go to the 2002-2003 Project Track'em page

Click here to go to the 2003-2004 Project Track'em page


Canadian Peregrine Foundation