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Peregrine falcons have come to Guelph!
GUELPH HACK SITE REPORTS:
Monday March 28, 2000
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Over the winter there have been a few scattered reports of a peregrine in both Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo. It's possible that this is Nomad, but there has not been any pattern to the sightings, and we have not even been able to confirm that it is a peregrine falcon, let alone this particular one. But we hope that everyone in the are will keep their eyes skyward in case Nomad is still around (or about to return after a winter down south).
Monday August 30, 1999
Sandra Metzger reports: Since my last report I have not seen either of the juveniles although I have had two sightings reported to me. On Thursday, Ian Hendry (one of our fledgling watch volunteers) called me to report that he had a juvenile peregrine without a transmitter chasing the pigeons around his apartment building on Westwood Ave. Although Ian was not able to see leg bands, I would bet money that this was Nomad as he has been seen there once before.
On Friday, Robyn Carlson was driving down Gordon street and saw a juvenile peregrine heading towards the University campus. She was not able to see whether it was wearing a transmitter. My guess is that this was Lincoln as Nomad has not been seen in this area for quite some time. For future updates on the progress of Lincoln, check the Project Track-em page.
Monday August 23
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Lincoln is quickly becoming independent - over the past few days he has been seen onl infrequently in the area of East Residence. Bruce Massey visited Guelph yesterday, and observed him on the main campus for a little while. He also watched a peregrine perform a very good stoop over the Arboretum Centre, but could not see whether the bird had a transmitter or not due to the distance. It's possible that this was Nomad, since this was one of the last places we had sight of him, but if it was Lincoln, it was a very encouraging sign that he too is acquiring skills very rapidly.
Sandra Metzger reports: Lincoln continues
to do well and is very quickly becoming independent. He is spending less and less time
around home, although he will still occasionally perch on the East Residence, or in one of
his favorite spots on campus (usually the MacKinnon building).
On Friday evening, having not seen Lincoln for about 11 hours, Marcel and I decided to go on a driving tour of Guelph to try and find him. After an hour with no luck we headed back to the Falcon Watch Centre. We had been there no longer than two minutes when I went to look out one of the windows, and who should come flying in but our little "lost" Lincoln. He landed on the window sill in front of me and stayed there long enough for both Marcel and I to take a close look at him and see that he looked good and that his harness was still fitting well.
At the time Marcel joked that maybe Lincoln had come to say goodbye. As much as I dismissed the thought then, it may turn out to be true. I have not seen him since this (although he was seen on campus on Saturday). He also seems to be sending me the message that he doesn't really need me looking out for him any more as he has not been to the hack box since Saturday morning. It is very likely that it was him who was spotted stooping over the Arboretum on Saturday. If so, he will probably follow his brother's example and fly off to parts unknown, and to true freedom and independence.
Tuesday August 17
Sandra Metzger reports: Lincoln seems to be having no trouble adjusting to his new harness. He spent a considerable amount of time on the roof of the East Residence today, so I was able to carefully observe him. He seemed to be very comfortable and definitely had a healthy appetite as he ate two cowbirds and part of a quail over the course of the day.
At one point this afternoon, we became very excited as we thought we had spotted both peregrines. Alas, after careful observation we determined that what we initially thought to be our missing Nomad was really a red tailed hawk. Both Lincoln and the hawk flew past one of our windows then out over the campus. Lincoln then returned to the roof of East while the hawk continued south. We're not sure what they were doing flying together, but we think one was chasing the other.
Although we have received a few reports of possible Nomad sightings over the past few days, I still have not been able to confirm any of them. Once again, if you see or hear of him, please contact us at (519) 824-4120 ext 79335.
Monday August 16
Sandra Metzger reports: This morning I picked up Lincoln at Mountsberg and brought him back to the Falcon Watch Centre in Guelph. At 2:00 p.m. Pud Hunter and Mark Heaton of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources arrived to place the satellite transmitter on Lincoln. The entire procedure took roughly 45 minutes. Lincoln, who was wearing a leather hood on his head to keep him calm, was very well behaved throughout the whole thing, only squawking and squirming a little bit.
By 2:45 we were ready to take him to the roof to re-release him. I placed him in the back of the hack box so that he could see there was food there for him, but he decided that he wanted to be as far away from us as possible. He took off out of the front of the hack box, and flew off the south side of the roof. He then did a nice little display of flapping and gliding around to the northeast, out over the Arboretum and College Ave. where we lost sight of him. He seemed to be having no trouble whatsoever adjusting to this new "thing" on his back.
Lincoln remained gone and out of sight until almost 8:00 when we spotted him on the MacKinnon building in one his usual spots. Using a 36 power scope we were able to see his transmitter was still securely in place and seemed to be fitting him well. He played with an old food scrap on the roof for a little while then took off around 8:15 and we lost sight of him for the rest of the evening.
Sunday August 15
Sandra Metzger reports: I have spent much time over the past two days driving around Guelph searching for Nomad, but with no luck. I'm really not surprised by this though. I have been trying to think like a peregrine as I drive around and trying to figure out where I would go in Guelph if I were a peregrine, but even if I happen to be checking one of his "hang outs" there is no guarantee that he will be there at the exact moment that I am. I guess all we can do is hope to get some more reports from the community, and follow these up in the hope that we can still spot him. I'm sure he is doing fine, but it sure would be nice to see him and confirm this fact with my own eyes.
Friday August 13
Sandra Metzger reports: At dawn Lincoln was still on the 11th floor window ledge where he had spent the night, but by 6:15 he took off and flew around the building. He flew out over the Arboretum where he chased a small bird before returning to the East Residence. He did a few more short flights around the East Res, then at 6:40 took off from the south side of the building, low over some trees and out of sight.
We were not able to locate Lincoln again until 11:20 when some volunteers who were out driving around town found him southwest of the campus near Stone Road Mall. They lost sight of him about 10 minutes later heading more or less in the direction of campus. By 12:30 Lincoln was found on an 11th floor window ledge, clearly visible from the Falcon Watch Centre. He spent about half an hour standing on the ledge, preening and dozing, then lay down and had an hour long nap. After his nap he stood up, stretched, preened and took off around the building first heading east then south. At 2:45 I caught sight of him again for a few minutes as he soared and flapped to the northwest of the East Residence; I eventually lost him against the cloudy sky over the south edge of downtown Guelph.
By 4:00 Lincoln had returned to East Res, and decided to go in to the hack box for food. At this point I dropped the trap door and caught him in the hack box. Lincoln will be held at the Mountsberg Wildlife Centre unitl Monday, at which point he will be fitted with a satellite transmitter and re-released. We had hopped to not have to trap him until Sunday, but with the speed at which he is progressing, we were afraid that if we waited until Sunday, he may no longer have been returning to the hack box for food, and we would have lost our chance to put a satellite transmitter on one of the Guelph birds.
This evening, around 8:40, Ian Hendry, one of our Falcon Watch volunteers was watching the rain out his apartment window, and is almost certain he saw Nomad fly past! I plan on spending most of the day tomorrow searching the city to see if I can catch a glimpse of our little nomadic one.
Thursday August 12
Marcel Gahbauer reports: The rate at which these birds are developing is truly amazing. Lincoln today showed that he is becoming increasingly independent. In recent days, there have been periods where he was out of sight for an hour or two, but today he was gone for much longer - around 11 am he flew north toward the golf club, and was not spotted again until 5:45 pm!
Shortly after 2 pm, I set out to do a search of some of the surrounding areas by car. Not only had Lincoln been missing for three hours by this time, but we also had not seen Nomad all day long. Following the advice of some of our local spotters, I checked out everything from beyond Stone Road Mall in the west to the recycling plant and correctional institute to the east. There were no shortage of spots where peregrines could have landed, but I wasn't able to spot any.
After doing a thorough search of the Ontario Veterinary College, the Ministry of Natural Resources building, and all the buildings in between (again without any success), I returned to the Falcon Watch Centre. I hadn't been back on the balcony more than 30 seconds when Lincoln flew low over the north end of the East Residence, coming in from the northeast, and swooping up to land on the south side of the roof. I wish we knew where the little devil had been all this time, especially since he came from the direction where I had concentrated much of my searching!
Lincoln came into the box for two meals today. He pretty much demolished one quail in the morning before taking his extended trip, and then ate part of the second one upon his return. In contrast to some recent days, he decided to stay at home tonight. After a few brief flights around East Residence, and a short excursion to the North Residence, he returned and made a landing on an eleventh floor window of the East Residence shortly after 8 pm. Within minutes he was lying down flat, and barely visible from below, and he did not move again tonight.
By the end of the day, we had still not seen Nomad. Given that he has only been flying for one week, we are a bit concerned that we can't locate him. All the same, I have a feeling he is just a quick learner and is doing well. This evening we watched Lincoln do a fairly long flight to the southwest, and his flight style did not look at all like that of the peregrine I observed over the Arboretum yesterday. As a result, I'm more convinced than ever that it was Nomad putting on the impressive flight display.
The Peregrine Fund, which has had much experience with hacking birds in the United States, has observed that peregrines rarely start hunting on their own until they are at least 8 weeks old, and have been flying for a week. Nomad was 8 weeks old as of today, and has been flying for just over a week, so it could be that he has learned his life skills very quickly. Certainly his behaviour over the first week of flight has consistently shown that he is eager to be independent - from his distant flight out of sight within minutes of release, to his first flight taking food away from the hack box, he has been trying to distance himself from the East Residence as much as possible.
Of course we will feel much better if we can spot Nomad in the coming days, and we encourage everyone to keep their eyes open for him. It is certainly possible that he has gone as far as downtown Guelph to the north, but he could also be off in any other direction. Our little friend is certainly living up to his name.
Wednesday August 11
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Today was an exciting but nerve-wracking day for us. While we were treated to some spectacular aerial displays, we did not have a confirmed sighting of Nomad all day long.
It was a very foggy morning, and for the first hour of today's Fledgling Watch, visibility was poor. Lincoln was spotted briefly during this period, but disappeared into the mist. It wasn't until after 8 am that he was seen again - this time on the lamp post above home plate at the baseball diamond to the north (it would seem his experience with the foul ball at third base yesterday didn't turn him off...).
In the process of searching for Nomad, we again lost sight of Lincoln around 8:30. Shortly after 9 am, Sandra was driving east along the south side of the Arboretum and spotted a peregrine overhead flying north. I quickly spotted him over the Arboretum Centre, and saw him stoop on a flock of starlings. Having failed, he turned his aggression toward a couple of solitary birds flying close to the ground (robins perhaps), but didn't have the speed to catch up to them. He rapidly climbed back up into the sky, and attempted to attack a couple of goldfinches from underneath, but they and the barn swallows sharing the airspace turned the tables and took a few shots at him. The peregrine then spent the next few minutes soaring effortlessly, circling higher and higher, and drifting slowly south. Eventually he was far south of Stone Road, made a dive on a flock of five pigeons, and then disappeared from sight behind trees.
Based on the level of skill demonstrated in this flight, I strongly suspected it was Nomad (Lincoln tends to still to a lot more flapping, and has not yet been observed making such a prolonged flight). However, since the peregrine was too far away to identify visually, and was the only one in sight at the time, we can't be sure who it actually was.
It was just past 10:30 am when we had our next sighting. This time a peregrine flashed past our eleventh floor window and went into a full stoop on a male kestrel flying below. They nearly collided near the south side of the baseball diamond, then the peregrine chased the kestrel east, making two more attacks on the way. The peregrine then turned north and dropped out of sight, but was headed at least in the direction of downtown Guelph, although I suspect he didn't go nearly that far. Again, the flight style suggested Nomad more than Lincoln, but as before, we couldn't be sure.
Lunch time for Lincoln came promptly at noon, when he returned to the hack box to get some food. The first quail he looked at didn't seem to be up to his standards, so he abandoned it and focused his attentions on the second one. He then put on a hilarious show, running in circles around the quail (following the perimeter of the box) at least four times before actually settling down to eat it. Certainly one of the more peculiar behaviours I've witnessed. Having finished his dance routine, Lincoln ate almost the whole quail over a period of one hour. Once he was full, he flew back to one of the baseball diamond lamp posts, and rested there for close to four hours.
In the evening, Lincoln came back to visit us, perching on a roof top corner overlooking an eleventh floor balcony. He stayed there for close to an hour before returning to the hack box for an evening snack. However, shortly before sunset he headed off to the north and out of sight. So, once again we ended the day wondering where both peregrines would spend the night.
Tuesday August 10
Sandra Metzger reports: Both boys were back home by 6:00 a.m. today. Around 6:20 they were both on the lower (5 story) roof of the East Res. Lincoln had what appeared to be his leftover starling from last night which he sat and ate while his brother intently studied the songbirds in the trees below them. I got really good looks at both of them through the scope, and at one point I could see Lincoln so well that I could read the numbers on his black band!
At 7:00 a.m. Nomad came in to the hack box, grabbed the quail and took it out to the platform to eat. Lincoln came in at about 7:30, took the quail from Nomad and started to eat it. By 8:00 Lincoln was finished eating and both birds sat on the edge of the platform for about half an hour, at which point they took off, flew around the East Res. roof, then over to the MacKinnon building. One of the birds carried the leftover quail in it's feet over to MacKinnon.
Around 9:00 a.m. they both took a short trip over to the smoke stack then came back to the MacKinnon building. At 10:00 they took off around the west side of MacKinnon and out of our sight. Lincoln was spotted on a light pole above the third base line of the baseball field at 11:00. A foul ball was popped up, hit the light pole he was on, which understandably scared him, and he took off (I'm sure the baseball players had no idea they had a peregrine above them, let alone that they almost hit one!). Nomad was nowhere to be seen and would stay missing for the rest of the day.
Lincoln returned to the East Res by about 1:45 and remained fairly inactive for about an hour, until deciding to chase some small birds. He returned to the residence and ate his leftover quail which he must have brought back from the MacKinnon building. Apparently this wasn't enough food to fill him up because at 3:45 he went into the hack box and got the cowbird. He dragged it out onto the platform where he jumped on it and "killed" it before eating.
Around 4:35 Lincoln took off to the MacKinnon building then went on an approximately 4 minute chase after a flock of pigeons above the University Centre. He did a good job of chasing them but needs to figure out that he has to get higher than they are before he can catch one. Once done his chase, Lincoln went and landed in a tree(!) in the middle of campus. After moving to a new spot in the tree, he apparently decided he didn't like perching in trees and returned to East. At 5:15 he took off north over Dundas Lane at which point we lost sight of him.
With both birds still missing at 7:00 I decided to conduct a thorough search of the campus and surrounding area. Despite my best attempts I was unable to locate them by dusk. Hopefully they will follow their routine and return home tomorrow morning.
Monday August 9
Sandra Metzger reports: The boys continue to do well. First thing this morning, Lincoln chased, and then was chased by, three crows. Around 6:40 they both flew over to the MacKinnon building where one of the resident kestrels came in to bug them for a bit. They did a few short flights, then spent about an hour preening and resting on the MacKinnon building. Around 8:00, they both flew up to the smoke stack where they remained until 8:40 at which point they returned to the MacKinnon building. They spent the rest of the morning playing around East Res and MacKinnnon, coming in to the hack box twice for food.
They spent a good part of the afternoon on the playing field light poles again today. Around 4:00 we saw them take off on what would prove to be their longest and farthest flight yet. They first flew out over the golf course north of the East Res where one of them stooped at a goldfinch. They then looped east out over the Arboretum, then south over and beyond South Residence. They finally looped back west then north to return to a light pole above the football field. Throughout this whole flight they soared high and well, although Lincoln seemed to be doing more flapping than his big brother.
At 5:45 they came in to the hack box to get some dinner. Nomad came in first and picked up a starling. Lincoln then came in, ran over and stole his brother's food, ran back out, then flew around the building with the food in his talons, finally landing on the south edge of the roof to eat. Nomad then picked up a cowbird which he took out on to the platform to eat.
They were both fairly quiet for the evening although, once again, they decided to pull their disappearing act and were out of sight when I left in the evening.
Sunday August 8
Mark Nash and Sandra Metzger report: Both Lincoln and Nomad continue to do well, although they have certainly taken to fighting over their food. It seems no matter what one is eating, the other one wants it even though there is other, unclaimed food available. Both this morning and early evening, when they came in to feed, they squabbled and played tug of war, attempting to steal each other's meal.
Around noon, both of the falcons flew over to the roof of the MacKinnon building where they spent about 45 minutes playing in the water puddles on the roof.
It was fairly windy today and the boys really seemed to enjoy this. They spent the day doing some fairly long, sustained flights, and "kiting" in the wind. They also spent about half an hour in the afternoon perching, roosting and playing on the light poles in the playing fields north of the East Residence.
They were fairly quiet in the evening, although around 8:00 they both took off in pursuit of a goldfinch and did some very good diving in an attempt to catch it. Although unsuccessful, they are starting to get better in their pursuit of birds, and seem to come closer to their target with each new try.
Saturday August 7
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Lincoln and Nomad put on quite a show today - much of the time it's hard to believe that they are only in their fourth day of flight. On a couple of occasions, Nomad made flights which lasted several minutes, during which he soared effortlessly, yet accurately controlled his flight path with well-timed wingbeats. Lincoln still favoured direct flights most of the time, but also looks very strong in the air.
This is not to say that they don't still have some learning to do. At one point in the late morning, Nomad headed for the East Residence, and attempted to land on the northwest corner, but hit the wall instead. He came around for a second attempt, but this time bounced lightly off a window. On his third try, he again aimed for a window, and though he slid down the glass itself, he at least caught himself on the ledge at the bottom. Throughout his flight east from the campus, he was vocalizing, and as a result I initially thought this was Lincoln. However, after he settled down on the East Residence, I was able to check the leg bands to confirm that it was in fact Nomad. Lincoln also had his share of difficulties - at one point this morning he tried three times in succession to cling to the vertical wall of the smokestack about halfway up, but of course could not get a grip, and fell off almost immediately each time. Fortunately, this did not seem to bother him, and he continued on to MacKinnon where he made a safe landing.
For much of the morning, the peregrines made a series of short flights together, most of which began and ended on the various parts of the MacKinnon Building near the centre of campus. While they do occasionally perch on other buildings, (most commonly the library and the tall smokestack), MacKinnon has without a doubt become their favourite 'home away from home'. In particular, they seem to favour the high roof at the east end of the building, as well as the high elevator shaft on the north side.
Both juveniles returned to the hack box for food this morning. Lincoln came in around 7:30, and showed little interest in the starling or cowbirds, going right for the lone quail instead. Roughly four hours later, Nomad came in for brunch following his awkward landings on the East Residence. He also ignored the display of wild birds, instead selecting the remains of the quail that Lincoln had started eating. Nomad carried it out to the front porch of the box to eat; not long after, Lincoln came flying overhead, and Nomad protectively mantled over his food. He dragged it back inside the box, but remained nervous, and then flew off to the west carrying the quail in his talons. To our surprise he made a beautiful landing on the MacKinnon Building, despite not having the full use of his feet. Lincoln didn't miss a beat, however, and followed his brother just a minute later, landing right beside him and knocking him off balance - the two then screamed at each other so loud that we could hear them almost as far back as the East Residence! After staring each other down for a couple of minutes, they relaxed just enough to take turns ripping chunks off the prey. Brotherly love this wasn't - a bit more like grudging tolerance.
Amazingly quickly, Nomad and Lincoln are developing an interest in hunting -- pigeons in particular. On a couple of occasions today they flushed a flock of pigeons from the centre of the U of G campus, and one of them made quite a convincing stoop on a lone pigeon behind Johnson Hall this morning, coming within only a few metres of hitting it. I guess they're tired of our "home (un-)cooked food" already! At most of the other sites we have observed, the juveniles don't show a serious interest in hunting for at least a week or two after taking flight.
Another surprise this morning was seeing Nomad walk up the ramp at the front of the hack box (see photo 16 in the Guelph Photo Gallery to get an idea of what it looks like). While the ramp was of course put in place to allow the peregrines to walk from the roof up to the platform of the hack box, we had assumed that they would prefer to simply make the short flight up, since they are creatures of the wing and are rather awkward on foot. However, twice this morning Nomad walked deliberately up the ramp, reminding us again that we still have some learning to do about peregrine psychology.
Friday August 6
Sandra Metzger reports: When I looked for the boys at daybreak (5:40 a.m.) neither was where I had left them last night. One bird was on the southeast corner of the East Res. He chased a pigeon then returned to almost the exact same spot. His brother was nowhere to be found. When I got up to the Falcon Watch Centre at 5:55 however, both boys came in to the hack box for their breakfast. They enjoyed their breakfast (sometimes stealing it from each other and playing tug of war) while we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise.
Although the day started off rainy, it turned nice in the afternoon, and the boys spent a large part of the day flying together and playing in the air. This is the first time we have seen them really interacting with each other while in flight. They did a lot of chasing each other, vocalizing while in flight, and playing aerial "tag". Their other activities for the day including yelling at turkey vultures and a red-tailed hawk, chasing one turkey vulture, hanging out on balconies and peeking in windows. On one occasion Lincoln landed on a window ledge of a room I was in, and was so close that were it not for the glass between us, I could have reached out and touched him.
The boys stayed very close to home all day, not landing on a building other than East Res. until the evening. At 8:40 one of the birds, likely Nomad, flew over to the smoke stack. His brother then took off, chased a bird, then tried to fly up to the smoke stack but didn't have enough altitude. He circled around again and this time landed on the west side of the stack, then moved around to the south side to join his brother. While they were both on the south side of the stack, one of them flew up against the inner portion of the smoke stack, clung there for a bit, then dropped back down to the outer rim. One of the birds then moved around to the north side of the smoke stack. After a few minutes this bird took off and headed back towards East Res. We all lost sight of him but think he may have turned south just before he got to East. I searched the roof and looked down at all the window ledges but couldn't find him. By this point it was getting too dark to see, so we were forced to call off the search. Hopefully he is somewhere safe, and we will be able to find him in the morning.
Thursday August 5
Sandra Metzger reports: As dawn broke this morning the boys were located in the same places as they had been when we left them last night - Lincoln on the window ledge and Nomad on the smoke stack. At 6:00 a.m. Lincoln moved from his ledge up to the south side of the East Residence roof. A few minutes later, Nomad took off from the smoke stack and flew to the East Res. He landed briefly beside his brother, then they both took off, did a few circles south of the building before heading west towards the centre of the university campus. Lincoln landed on top of the MacKinnon building (main part of campus), while Nomad turned around and went to land on the smoke stack. Around 7:15, Nomad took off after a kingbird that had come to attack him. After an unsuccessful chase, he went to land on the MacKinnon building not far from his brother. A few minutes later, Lincoln attempted to fly after a pigeon, then returned to his perch only to be attacked by a crow. These two attacks on the boys were unfortunately for them simply a sign of things to come for the rest of the morning. Shortly after the crow attack, a pair of kestrels moved in for their turn to attack. Nomad flew to the smoke stack, perhaps in an attempt to escape his tormentors, but the male kestrel followed him and launched a second attack.
Around 8:00 a.m. Nomad tried and just missed catching a butterfly, then returned to the smoke stack. He then made a good strong flight directly to the east, passing by the East Res. and disappearing over the Arboretum. He then reappeared and landed on the south side of East Res. He was joined a minute later by Lincoln. They screamed and played on the roof for almost another hour. During this time they landed on the roof above our balcony and we saw Lincoln nip his brother in the head, which caused Nomad to fly off with Lincoln on his tail, emitting deafeningly loud screams as he went. At 9:00 a.m. they finally came in for some food. Lincoln landed first but Nomad, perhaps in retaliation for the bite to the head, stole his brother's quail and took off somewhere to the roof with it. Lincoln got a second quail and started eating.
By 9:35 both boys had finished eating and were sitting on the SW side of the East Res. They spent the next two hours just hanging out and relaxing on the roof. At 12:40 Lincoln flew to the balcony railing directly above our balcony. He settled in, tucked his head behind his wing and had a nap. At 2:15 Nomad flew to the north edge of the East Res from the centre of the roof, and eventually landed on the balcony beside Lincoln. They had a little squabble, then both took off, landing on the roof. At 3:00 Lincoln landed on the quail in the door of the hack box, lost his balance, fell into hack box, and decided to eat there. A little while later, Nomad came in and ate the quail on the platform of the hack box. Shortly after Nomad came in to eat, Lincoln took off after a butterfly, missed it, then flew over the Arboretum and out of sight. Shortly after this, Nomad flew up to the to smoke stack.
An hour later, one of the volunteers went over to get a better look at the smoke stack, and in the process found Lincoln on a 2 story building by the base of smoke stack. How he got there without us seeing him is a bit of a mystery. He must have flown either low enough or far enough out to the south that we couldn't see him through the trees. By 5:00 both birds had returned to the East res - Nomad to one of our Falcon Watch Centre window ledges, then to the roof, and Lincoln to an 11th floor balcony. Lincoln did a little flight about an hour later, and landed on a 12th floor balcony on the SE side of East Res, where he stayed for the night. Not content to spend the night on the same building as his brother, Nomad headed to the smoke stack just before 8:00 p.m. where he remained for the night.
Wednesday August 4
Sandra Metzger reports: Well today was the big day, the day when the boys were set free to test their wings. We assembled the media and volunteers in the Falcon Watch Centre at 10:00 for some interviews and explanations of what would be happening. During this time the boys were both sitting by the trap door, as though waiting for it to open. They didn't have to wait long because by 10:20 we were ready to preform the release. Almost as soon as the trap door was lifted Lincoln hopped up on the ledge, looked around, then took off. Just as soon as Lincoln had taken off, Nomad flew straight out the door without even pausing at the ledge. Lincoln flew well and strong to the west then returned to the west edge of the East Residence. Nomad also flew well and headed out in pretty much the same direction but instead of turning back, he just kept on flying out of sight.
Lincoln stuck pretty close to home for the rest of the day, making several short flights but always coming back to land on the East Residence. Nomad however kept us in great suspense for most of the day and was not relocated until 7:30 p.m. at which point he was found perched on top of the smoke stack west of the residence. I'm not sure how long he had been there, but I know he was not there in the middle of the afternoon when I did an extensive search of the campus buildings. Nomad made three flights off the smoke stack, and even though we lost sight of him for a few minutes after the third flight, he re-landed on the smoke stack after every flight. Not long after Nomad had settled in following his second flight, a female kestrel started dive bombing him and screaming in protest at him. She continued this for several minutes, then took off to the north east.
Lincoln was also having some experiences with the resident wildlife
throughout the day. It all started in the afternoon when he decided to try and catch
a butterfly. I guess he decided that this was not prey worthy of a peregrine because
later in the day he also did some half hearted chasing of kingbirds (which very quickly
turned the tables and chased him!) and also a pigeon. The mini pigeon chase occurred
around 8:30 p.m. and ended with Lincoln landing on an eleventh floor window ledge where he
ended up settling down for the night. Nomad was still on top of the smoke stack when
we gave up trying to see him because of the falling darkness.
Considering it was their first day of flight I am pleased with how the boys did today (although I would have been much less stressed had Nomad decided to stay in sight today!). I look forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring. . .
Tuesday August 3
Sandra Metzger reports: Nomad and Lincoln were very hyper again today. They spent most of the morning and early afternoon flapping and pacing around the box, as well as climbing the bars and walls. At one point Nomad actually jumped up and landed on Lincoln's head! Always the yappy one, Lincoln I'm sure told his brother just what he thought of that (we don't have sound on the monitor, but I saw Lincoln opening and closing his mouth as if he was yelling). Both settled down around 2:00 and rested on the ledge until about 4:30 at which time they started to get active again. I think they're ready for the release tomorrow morning!
Monday August 2
Sandra Metzger reports: The boys continue to be very active and restless, and today they were quite literally climbing the walls. Both Nomad and Lincoln spent a considerable amount of time today flapping and running around the box and at times climbing both the bars and the walls of the hack box.
Sunday August 1
Sandra Metzger reports: The boys were very restless again for much of the morning and early afternoon. When I went up to give them fresh water this morning, Lincoln and I startled each other - he was sitting right at the back door when I opened it! Nomad jumped in and out of the tub twice this morning then went and sat on the ledge for a while. While Nomad was sitting on the ledge, Lincoln became very active. He would bounce up and down on the ledge, pushing his breast against the bars as if to get out. He also climbed up, and clung onto, the west wall of the hack box several times. As Lincoln was bouncing around the box, Nomad started to get a little more active and paced along the ledge with wings outstretched. They both calmed down for a little while around noon and had some lunch. They continued to be fairly active until about 3:00 when Lincoln lay down on the ledge for a sleep and Nomad stood peacefully on the ledge next to his brother. When I left at 5:00 both boys were awake and starting to get active again (especially Nomad who was jumping up against the bars).
Saturday July 31
Sandra Metzger reports: The big news for today is that the chicks have now been named. The younger chick is now known as Lincoln (in honour of Lincoln Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Guelph) and the older chick has been named Nomad (very fitting for a species which wanders as far as peregrines do). Congratulations to Alexander Hilborn and Brendan Parsons, both of Guelph, for suggesting the winning names.
The boys were both very restless today, bouncing and flapping around the box. Around 1:00 a big thunder storm started which lasted for about three hours. The boys seemed to enjoy this. The wind was blowing rain into the box, and both boys sat on the ledge, often opening their wings to enjoy the free shower. Lincoln spent more time on the ledge in the rain than did Nomad, and ended up getting quite wet. At one point he jumped up on the plywood and gave his feathers a vigorous shake - so vigorous in fact that he fell of the plywood!
When the rain let up around 4:00, Marcel and I went up to the roof to modify the hack box in preparation for Wednesday's release. I climbed in to the box (which is starting to get stinky!) to catch the boys so we could put them in holding boxes while we worked. Both Lincoln and Nomad objected to being caught and protested by screaming and trying to bite me. These two are definitely healthy and feisty!
While I repositioned the camera from the front corner of the box to the back corner, Marcel worked on removing some bars and installing the "trap door". This trap door will serve two purposes. Firstly it will make the release on Wednesday very easy as all we have to do is lift the door (by pulling the strings at the back of the box), and the boys can be released without us having to go out to the front of the box to remove bars. The trap door will then stay open until we are ready to use it to catch one or both of the boys to put a satellite transmitter on them. The plywood was also removed from the corner of the box as it was no longer serving the purpose of keeping the boys in view of the camera. Once the modifications were complete the boys were returned to the box.
When you check the image page, you will notice these changes. With the camera repositioned and the plywood gone, the boys are no longer able to sit directly under the camera so we will no longer get extreme close-up views of them. With the new camera position though, the boys should be visible on screen the majority of the time. What looks like a big gap in the bars is actually the trap door. Because it is white, it doesn't show up well on the camera during the day.
Friday July 30
Sandra Metzger reports: The younger chick has now lost virtually all of his down and it is now much more difficult to tell him apart from his brother. We had been referring to this chick as "Little guy" but this doesn't really apply anymore - there is very little, if any, size difference between the two boys. At 35 and 43 days old, the boys are getting very interested in the world beyond the box. They spend most of their time looking out the bars and I have even seen them pressing their little faces against the bars!
The boys did spend some time playing and exercising today, but for the most part they were pretty quiet. It was very hot today and they were showing that they could feel it. They spent a lot of time sleeping (at one point the older guy was sleeping standing up) and they also were panting quite a bit today.
Tuesday July 27
Marcel Gahbauer reports: I popped in to see the chicks briefly this afternoon, and couldn't believe my eyes - the amount of down the younger one has lost in the past two days is just incredible! Only scattered little tufts remain here and there, and I'm sure that at this rate they too will be gone in the next couple of days. The countdown is now on to the release, which will take place next Wednesday morning (August 4), at which time the chicks will be roughly six and seven weeks old. Volunteers are needed to help watch them for their first two or three weeks of flight - please contact us if you would be willing to help, even if only a short period.
Monday July 26
Sandra Metzger reports: The younger chick continues to change noticeably from one day to the next. He has lost a lot more of his down, especially around his face. I would say another day or two and it will be getting more difficult to tell him and his brother apart. The chicks had another full day of napping, snacking, playing and jumping in the tub. At one point this afternoon the little guy decided to start bugging his older brother, pecking at his face and wing. This very quickly led to a good game of tag and some interesting play fighting. This morning when I went up to feed the boys, I made a very interesting observation. I was watching them through the little window in the west wall of the box and noticed that every so often they would tense up and look intently out through the bars. I peeked around towards the front of the box so I could see what they were watching. I quickly figured out what it was that was exciting them. Every time they tensed up it was because a bird was flying by. It's nice to see them showing this interest in what will eventually become dinner. (are the pigeons of Guelph ever in for a surprise!)
Sunday July 25
Marcel Gahbauer reports: I was in early this morning (around 6am) to provide breakfast for the two chicks, and took the opportunity to have a close look at each one. This is the first time I have seen them up close in a week, and I was amazed how much they have changed in appearance - although the loss of down on the older chick has been very evident even on the Guelph Webcam, it didn't really hit me until I saw him on the television screen in the Falcon Watch Centre. Based on his appearance today, and the rate at which he has been losing down in the past few days, he appears to be around 38 days old now. The younger one still has quite a lot of down. Comparing him to the Etobicoke chicks of the past couple of years, I would estimate that he is roughly 30-31 days old.
Both are also noticeably more active than the last time I saw them. The older chick was making flights from one side of the box to the other, and effortlessly going up and down from the plywood in the corner. Just before I left this morning, he flew halfway up the west wall of the box and clung there bat-style for several seconds, very reminiscent of the behaviour we have observed in Etobicoke the past couple of years in the days preceding fledging.
Sandra Metzger reports: When I arrived at the
watch centre at 11:00 both chicks were having a
mid-morning snack. They were quite active for the next hour, hopping up and down off of the plywood and the ledge, flapping, playing with their food, and jumping in the tub. Both chicks then quieted down until 1:00 when the older chick jumped into the tub then decided to go and step on the younger chick's back and tail. Having no luck getting his brother to get up and play, the older chick decided to entertain himself by clinging to the west wall of the box and "flying" between the food tray and the plywood. Around 2:00 I took more food up to the boys as the older chick had been inspecting all the old food scraps looking for something edible. Both chicks began to eat 5 minutes after I left the roof. They remained realtively quiet for the rest of the afternoon, only periodically moving around the box and snacking.
Saturday July 24
Sandra Metzger reports: I watched the boys run around the box and play with some food scraps for a few minutes before taking their breakfast up to them. When I got up to the hack box the older chick was down behind the piece of plywood. He didn't seem too upset to be there so I cleaned out the old food, changed their water and put in the new food, then went downstairs to see what the chicks would do. Within a few minutes the older chick was in view sitting on top of the plywood.
I was away from the Falcon Watch Centre for the morning as Qetesh (our education bird) and I were making an appearance at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Guelph. When Qetesh and I returned to the watch centre at 12:45 both chicks were asleep. It wasn't long though until the older chick woke up and began to get active. He spent some time running and flapping around the box, hopping in and out of the tub, and eating. After about a half hour of activity the older chick apparently decided it was time for his brother to wake up because he walked over and bonked the little guy on the head with his foot! After being so rudely awoken the younger chick spent some time pacing around the box, eating, drinking, and preening (he has lost a lot of his down feathers, even compared to yesterday). Except for a bite of lunch by the older chick, both boys were farily quiet for the remainder of the afternoon.
Friday July 23
Sandra Metzger reports: The boys have been eating less food than normal in the past couple of days. This may be due to the heat, or it may be due to the fact that they are getting older and don't need quite as much to eat. The younger chick was quite active this morning. After eating a bit of breakfast he jumped in the tub then ran around the box for a little while. When I returned to feed them supper in the evening they were both fairly quiet and spent most of their time up on the plywood or on the ledge.
Thursday July 22
Sandra Metzger reports: I guess both chicks decided to sleep in this morning because they were asleep in the corner by the door when I arrived - I woke them up when I delivered their breakfast to them. The younger chick ate a few pieces of food after I went down to the Falcon Watch Centre. Just as I was getting ready to leave the younger guy jumped up on the plywood (he looked quite pleased with himself for this accomplishment). When I returned in the evening, both chicks were sitting up on the plywood (this seems to be their new favorite spot) until the older chick pushed his brother off. The younger guy went and picked at some food scraps then went and stood in the tub for about 15 minutes.
Wednesday July 21
Sandra Metzger reports: As the elevators are out of service for repairs right now, and the Falcon Watch Centre is on the 11th Floor, we have decided to close the Falcon Watch Centre until Saturday. I however, have been getting my exercise by climbing the stairs to the Falcon Centre every morning and evening to feed the chicks. Because it's a long walk up those 11 flights of stairs (actually twelve and a half to the roof!), I have cut the chicks back to two larger meals a day instead of three small ones and they seem to be doing just fine with this new feeding schedule.
Over the past two days I have noticed the boys doing a lot of preening - they seem to be working hard to remove all of their down feathers (the older chick has almost no down feathers left). When I arrived this morning the younger chick was doing his "morning wing stretches" and the older chick was watching a fly buzz around his head.
When I returned this evening I was quite surprised to find the older chick standing on the plywood in the corner of the hack box (this is a piece of plywood that I had put in the corner of the box to keep them from hiding out of view of the camera). At first all I was getting was a nice close up of the top of his head, but then he gazed up at the camera and I got a great close up view of his face. (I hope this picture made it to the website as it was absolutely priceless!)
Monday July 19
Sandra Metzger reports: The boys have grown and changed noticeably since their arrival last week. Both boys are losing some of their down feathers, especially the older chick - he has lost almost all of the down on his face and his facial pattern is now becoming apparent. The boys were fairly quiet for the morning and early afternoon. Around 2:45 the older chick decided to get up and have some lunch. After he had eaten a few pieces of food he ran and flapped around the hack box while holding a piece of food in his mouth, then he transferred the food to his foot and proceeded to jump on it and attack it. They both settled down again until around 6:00 when they both got up moved around the hack box and had some food. It was also around this time that they discovered the larger water dish that I had placed in the hack box earlier in the day. The younger chick climbed in first and stood in the water occasionally dipping his beak in. As soon as he got out of the water the older chick got in. He not only stood in the water but attempted to bathe! Unfortunately the dish was too small to allow him to have a good bath - I'll have to get them a bigger dish for tomorrow so they can really have a good time! The chicks continue to get along well and tonight were spending time playing with each other - chasing each other around the box, and pecking at each other's tail and face.
Sunday July 18
Marcel Gahbauer and Sandra Metzger report: Both boys are now eating completely on their own and no longer require hand feeding. The older chick has even started holding pieces of food in his feet and tearing at them with his beak. Once again today, both chicks enjoyed the peregrine kiddy pool, taking turns lying down in the water to keep cool. The older of the two chicks spent some time today running back and forth across the hack box flapping his wings. Although still very young, it appears that the boys are starting to take an interest in things that move through the air: at one point in the afternoon two flies were buzzing around the hack box and the boys were very intrigued by this, following the flies' movements with their eyes.
Saturday July 17
Natalie Helferty and Sandra Metzger report: Not much has changed since yesterday. The boys are continuing to learn how to eat on their own, although I (Sandra) still hand fed them their supper as neither of them had touched it by 9:00 p.m. (apparently it wasn't from lack of hunger as they both ate very well when I offered them the food from the tweezers). Although not raised together, the boys are definitely getting along very well with each other - they were cuddled up sleeping together in the corner of the hack box when I left tonight.
Friday July 16
Natalie Helferty and Sandra Metzger report: The boys are both doing well and are starting to eat on their own, although they still required some hand feeding today. Like the rest of us, the chicks were trying to stay cool today, and perhaps in an attempt to do just that, the younger chick decided to lie in his food dish! Because lying in food tends to lead to a very dirty peregrine chick, Natalie took a little dish of water up to the hack box for the chicks to cool off in instead of using their food. Both boys seemed to appreciate this and took turns standing in the water (a little "peregrine kiddy pool" as Natalie called it!)
Thursday July 15
Sandra Metzger reports: I arrived at East at 7:45 am to feed the chicks their breakfast. Once again, they were up against the far wall and I had to climb into the hack box to feed them.
When I came back to the Falcon Watch Centre at 11:00 both boys were asleep in the back corner of the box. They spent the next hour or so sleeping but by about 1:00 both were awake and starting to get active. Both did some wing flapping and the older chick even ran across the hack box a couple of times while flapping his wings. I also observed some "beak kissing" between the two chicks, so they are definitely getting along well!
For this afternoon's feeding I decided to cut their food up into small pieces and place it in the hack box to see if they would feed themselves (feeding them while hanging half out of the hack box is really not very comfortable, and besides I want to limit my contact with them.) The older chick didn't take to long to figure out how to feed himself, but the little guy seemed to have a harder time with the concept. After about 45 minutes though, most of the food was gone and both chicks had nice full crops (however, in the evening I had to resort to hand feeding again, because they showed no interest in eating the food on their own). The chicks were much more adventurous today, and by the time I left this afternoon both had figured out how to get up on the ledge of the hack box and seemed to be enjoying the view.
Wednesday July 14
Marcel Gahbauer reports: There are now two healthy male chicks in the hack box in Guelph. Both were banded this morning, and placed into the hack box around noon. Sandra will post more details about today's events shortly.
Sandra Metzger reports: The Guelph
peregrines have arrived!! Mark Nash and myself picked the chicks up at Toronto's Pearson Airport last night. After a quick check of the birds
at the airport, they were loaded into my car and we headed for Guelph. I arrived in
Guelph by 10:30 p.m. and took the chicks to the East Residence where I met up with Paul
Grieve, our videographer. With Paul recording, I fed the very hungry and very tired
chicks. Once the chicks were fed, I placed them back in their box and took them home
with me where we got some much needed sleep!
I was up at 7:00 a.m. to check on the chicks (they were snuggled together in their travel box) and to hand feed them again. Then it was off to the East Residence to get ready for the banding! The chicks were put in a quiet room while Mark Nash, Marcel Gahbauer, Natalie Helferty, and myself talked to the media. Meanwhile, Pud Hunter and Art Timmerman from the Ministry of Natural Resources set up for the banding in the lobby. The chicks were taken down to the lobby at 10:45 where they were weighed and banded. The youngest chick, a male (from our breeder in Montreal), weighed in at 583 grams, and is estimated to be about 25 days old. The older chick, also a male (from a breeder in Alberta), weighed in at 618 grams, and is roughly 30 days old. Both chicks were very vocal during the banding but were generally well-behaved (and didn't even seem to mind that they were about to become famous thanks to media such as CKCO-TV, The Guelph Mercury, and The Guelph Tribune). Immediately after the banding Art Timmerman and I escorted the chicks to the roof of East Residence where I placed them in their new home.
The chicks were allowed to settle into their new home undisturbed until about 1:45 when I went up to the hack box to feed them again (because of their young age they need to be feed three times a day, and will need to be hand fed for another day or two). They spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping and wandering around the hack box.
At 8:00 pm I returned to the roof to give them their final feeding of the day. When I opened the door to the hack box, both chicks were up against the far wall and I had to climb most of the way into the hack box in order to feed them! I started feeding the older chick first, but the little guy kept trying to grab the food for himself, so I took turns feeding them. When I left for the night, both birds were cuddled up in the back corner of the hack box sleeping (they deserve a good night's rest after today's excitement).
Monday July 12
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Very shortly, our two chicks for Guelph will be on their way from Montreal to Toronto. The banding has been scheduled for Wednesday morning (July 14) at 10 am, and will take place in the lobby of the East Residence at the University of Guelph. Everyone is invited to attend this event - please drop by if you can spare the time. Immediately following the banding, the chicks will be introduced to their hack box on the roof of the East Residence, where they will remain until around the end of July, when they will be ready to take their first flights.
Friday July 9
Marcel Gahbauer reports: The latest word is that we expect to be receiving our two peregrine chicks from Falcon Environmental Services in Montreal early next week. The banding of the chicks has been scheduled for Wednesday July 14 at 10 am. The public is invited to attend the banding, which will take place in the lobby of the East Residence at the University of Guelph. Watch for more information in the coming days about where you will be able to watch the young peregrines live or on video.
Thursday July 8
Sandra Metzger reports: On Tuesday the hack box was assembled in Guelph with the help of some members of the Guelph Field Naturalists. A BIG thank you to Bill Tilt of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Guelph for helping us to transport the hack box pieces to the East residence. Also a big thank you to Ian Hendry, Craig Potter, Brian Wyatt, Paul Grant, (and I know I've probably forgotten someone - sorry if I have!) of the GFN for helping us get the pieces to the roof and assemble them into a very nice looking hack box. Probably the biggest thank you should go to Greg Meredith (the one man building crew) who actually knew how to put the hack box together and therefore saved us a lot of time, and made sure that our birds will have a sturdy and comfortable home.
On Thursday, I gave the box a fresh coat of white paint (which will reflect the sunlight and hopefully keep the inside of the box cooler). We still need to do a few things like install the camera, but we are starting to get ready for the much anticipated arrival of our new babies!
Tuesday July 6
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Time has flown, and it is almost time for the peregrines to arrive in Guelph for the second phase of Project Release (the first having been Richmond Hill). Today we began readying the site for the arrival of the birds by constructing the hack box.
Natalie Helferty, Sandra Metzger, Mark Nash, and I from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation were assisted by Greg Meredith, Craig Potter, Ian Hendry, Paul Grant, and Bryan Wyatt from the Guelph Field Naturalists. The box we erected today is the same one which was constructed by the Guelph Field Naturalists for their peregrine hack release in 1988, and which has since been used for two releases in the Thunder Bay area. After more than a decade, the box remains sturdy and in good condition - a testament to the quality of the original construction.
We were very grateful for the assistance of the Guelph Field Naturalists today - not only for their help with the actual grunt work of putting the box together, but also for their recommendations on box placement based on their previous experience. Most of all, however, we are indebted to Greg for his directions on piecing the box together - this box is designed quite differently from our Richmond Hill hack box, and without his help, it probably would have taken us twice as long to figure out how to assemble it.
By the end of the afternoon, the hack box was fully constructed, and in position on the roof of the East Residence at the University of Guelph, facing more or less south. The next step for us is to install the camera inside the box. This camera will broadcast live to the Guelph Webcam page 24 hours a day (it will be an infrared camera like that used on the Richmond Hill Webcam and Mountsberg Osprey Webcam) once it is installed. Watch this page and the CPF news page for announcements about the launch of this camera. We are also hoping to be able to broadcast the signal live on site (details to follow), as well as playing back day-old tapes at the Guelph Arboretum Nature Centre, and at Wild Birds Unlimited in Guelph on Gordon south of Stone Road.
The two chicks for the Guelph release will be arriving within a week. At present, we expect that they will be delivered on either Friday July 9, or Monday July 12. We will post details as soon as possible.
© Canadian Peregrine Foundation