Scarborough Release Home Page
SCARBOROUGH HACK SITE REPORTS:
Tuesday August 14, 2007
Mark Nash reports: We are delighted to report that Flap has once again pulled through for us by donating another huge cooler of “fresh native food” for the young peregrine fledglings at the Scarborough hack site. While we are always shocked at the huge volume of birds that are picked up daily from the Toronto city streets – either dead or dyeing as of a result of their collision with Toronto’s hi-rises during the spring and fall migration periods, we are fortunate in that at least some of these are birds even after death are not going to waste.
As we have documented over the past ten years while intensely monitoring many of our southern Ontario urban peregrine nest sites, many familiar remnants of these very same bird species are collected each year from the peregrine nest ledges here in the city. These same bird species account for much of the same food that our migrating peregrines will depend on for their own survival during their dispersal and migration to the south, in addition to making up a large portion of their daily diets while they are wintering over in the USA, Central and South America.
As with all of the CPF peregrine releases that we have conducted over the years, the young peregrines diet has always been supplemented with a more natural native food source throughout the hacking process, and the attached photos represent a typical example of that supplemented diet that is being provided to the young peregrines in addition to the farm raised quail that they are also provided.
This natural native food source helps familiarize & acclimatizes the young peregrines with a real world recognizable food source that is available to them. This native food source also exposes the young peregrines to the natural biological enzymes and bacteria that they will find in these wild food sources just as they would be getting from their adult parents. This native wild food will not be a shock to the young peregrines digestive systems when start taking these same food sources in the wild after their release.
I have attached some photo’s of just a few of the fresh birds that we have been feeding the young peregrines at the hack site. Once again, a big thank you to Flap for their care packages.
Sunday August 12, 2007
Mark Nash reports: 10 day summary (August 2nd to 12th)
Over the past 10 days we have not a lot to report, as the birds have certainly been difficult to spot, especially all together during our observation periods in the afternoon and evenings. While the intense watch is no longer necessary due to the fledglings advanced ages and their new found flight skills, we are still keeping a close eye out each day, especially during the daily evening food drops.
While it has been quite obvious that most of the birds activity around the hack site (at least as a group) is happening in the morning hours – from first light to about 11 am, as local observers are reporting and documenting regular sightings of the birds at the hack site. In addition, we can confirm that food being dropped each day has all been consumed by the next evening’s food drop.
Bell staff have confirmed many of these daily sightings, as they are also seeing the birds when they arrive for work in the morning. Sadly, you can no longer set your watch by their arrival in the evening for the PM food drop, as it would appear that the birds are becoming far more independent, and have expanded their territory well beyond our sightlines from the hack site. As a result of their absence around the hack site during the hot sun drenched mid days, the search was on to identify some of the birds local roosting and hang out spots. While we have not found them all, we have now identified three regular roosting spots in the neighborhood that they are frequenting throughout the hot sunny periods of the day.
As a planned event, (and on schedule), the daily food allotment has been decreased from 4 birds each day to 2 birds a day, to encourage the juvenile peregrine fledglings to take a greater interest in the “local native” food sources. This decreased food allotment was not being taken by the birds throughout the hot mid-day periods given the extreme humid weather that we all had to endure over the past two weeks. Even our live CPF educational birds were not motivated to eat during this same period. As we have long since documented, peregrines are for the most parts, are roosting in a shady spot during these extreme hot sun drenched days, as the heat and humidity affects them the same way it does you and I.
Sunday August 12, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 44, Fledge Watch Day 28, Birds now 72 Days old
This evening’s watch was rewarded by having all four birds again in our view at the same time!! Shortly after the huge rain downpour, we attended the hack site again, only to observe two of the birds roosting on the hack building, VERY SOAKED AND DRENTCHED to the point that you could see their white under-down exposed as their brown over cover feathers has been displaced by the heavy rains! By 6:30pm, the birds had dried off and were very active flying around the building. All four birds were now in view, and for the next 2 plus hours, we watched in amazement at their aerial acrobatics and games of chase and tag. It was breathtaking to say the least!! By this time, a group of watchers has assembled, - (in addition to some other members of the community, and onlookers from the Wal-Mart parking lot). It was simply an incredible spectacle to see!!
I’m sure that our out-bursts of cheers could have been heard blocks away, as this was one of those rare occasions where all four birds participated in the chase and tag games, with flips and rolls, stoops and dives, quick touch and landings, mid-air collisions and some incredible VERY SCARY hi-speed events between the four juveniles!!!
On several occasions, Alexander-Mombo and his brother Tybropa-Cree came so close to the building as they chased each other around the building in flight, that their wing tips actually clipped the brown metal flashing of the roof top. Several hi-speed landings had us all covering our eyes believing that they would have crashed into the upper roof top ledges!! While there was some minor bumps and grinds, with some mid-air brushes with one another, there were no incidents of and any injury. Not even hurt pride, as nothing seemed to discourage them of slow them down throughout the entire evening, other than the odd “recharge period” that lasted only a few short minutes at a time.
Several of these actions resulted in aborted landings with both of the birds over shooting the ledges where they collided with one another in mid air on inches above the roof top ledge!! On several occasions, the birds landed at the hack box, and were observed beak-touching with one another in a very intimate peregrine moment. It was quite obvious that they had not seen each other some a period of time, as this behavior has been well documented over the years at other urban nest sites that we have been closely monitoring when the fledglings have been absent from one another for a period of time. Freya-Sasha was also a big part of these games, as it was her that consistently teased and taunted several of her brothers as they landed periodically to recharge their batteries during the 2 plus hour event.
I must also admit, it was very nice to see Alexander-Mombo as he has been noticeably absent from our observations over the past 10 days, and a little concerning to say the least as to his whereabouts.
All in all, the past two days have been quite a renewed thrill for us all, as the absence of seeing all four of the birds has been a great concern for us all. **** The kids are growing up quickly!!! I know that it is going to be very hard for all as the fall migration gets closer, as sooner or later the fledglings will start their fall dispersal and the nest as they say, will be empty!
Saturday August 11, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 43, Fledge Watch Day 27, Birds now 71 Days old
In an effort get a clear picture of the current happenings, we intensified our watch time this weekend and focused some time to the early mornings hours, - and it paid off!!
This weekend we were rewarded and most delighted to have observed and identified all four birds at the hack site throughout the two days!!!
At approx. 6:30 am Saturday morning, the female – Freya-Sasha was observed flying into the hack site from the south with a freshly killed pigeon in her clutches, and landed on the “Run-Way” in front of the hack box. Moments later, she was joined by her brother Spirit-Hunter, - (clearly identified by his yellow coloured ID leg band), who suddenly appeared in our view flying in from the east. He landed on the Run-way beside her, and we watched as she allowed him to share in her blood soaked meal. We now have evidence that at least one of the juveniles has made their own kill. **While we suspect that this is the case with some of the of the fledglings, we have not witnessed it.
Given the absence of the birds being observed at the hack site on a daily basis over the past 10 day period in the evenings, (with regards to their tardiness for the evening food, and/or their lack of interests or attendance at all for the evening food drop), it is highly suspected that at least some of the fledglings are being successful in their hunting, and are getting their own food. We will, as we have done with all of the CPF hack sites over the years, continue to provide a food supplement at the hack box until the birds are no longer taking the food. This is consistent with the natural parents behavior as we have documented over the past ten years at the other urban nest sites that we have been monitoring.
Wednesday August 03, 2007
Mark Nash reports: 10 day Summary
Over the past 10 days all of the birds have been doing quite well indeed, with very strong flights having been observed by all throughout each day and their individual flights have taken them east beyond Warden and west to the Don Valley. Their time away from the hack site “territory” is getting much longer, and they are venturing much further. With only a single evening food drop being conducted at approx. 5pm each day, the birds are being encouraged to expand their territory throughout the mornings and afternoons. And this is exactly what they are doing. Only spotty observations of the birds throughout the mornings and afternoons are being observed. By 4 pm, you could almost set your watch by their arrival back at the hack site, as all of the birds are usually back in view, hanging around the hack box or roosting on the communications tower. With the exception of Thursday Aug. 2nd, all four birds have assembled back at the hack site, and all 4 birds have been in view at one point or another during the evening food drop.
Throughout this past ten day period, the birds have been observed carrying several of the large food packages that are being dropped for them at he hack box, and carrying them to other parts of the hack site building as they have become more independent of one another.
It has been quite obvious that they have developed their own personalities, and individual independence of one another, as they are no longer happy to eat together all of the time, and the usual games of tag that they have been playing with each other is not as frequent as it has been in the past days. At feeding time, they are now starting to “mantle” over their own food packages, protecting it from their other siblings, and for the most parts, no longer as happy to share their food with each other.
After the food has been consumed, they are happy to gather on the communications tower by darkness, but now have their individual spots – apart from one another.
They are investigating their new world, as we have observed several of the birds roosting on the huge white water storage tower south west of Warden & Eglinton - to the east of the hack site. ** Interesting enough, this is the same place that Lawrie and Ruben roosted, in addition to taking their fledglings too as they became confident fliers.. Very interesting indeed. Hmmmmmmmmm??
Also, throughout this past nine days, we have all witnessed several of the fledglings chasing and pursuing the local bird inhabitance, and several of the fledglings have demonstrated some incredible chases, and some unbelievable stoops and dives on the local birds. While we have not yet witnessed or confirmed that they have been able to catch anything as yet, they are getting very good at the chasing and stooping!!!!! In addition, there is much going on out of our view and during the times we are not on the watch. The birds are advancing very very quickly indeed!!!!!!!
During the past three days as the temp’s have soared above 30 degrees and a humid X of 35%, the birds have not been much motivated to eat, (NOR HAVE WE),, and their assembly at the hack box for the evening food drop has been very slow indeed. While they have all been observed roosting on the communications tower, it has taken some of them upwards of 40 plus minutes to fly to the hack box after the food drop was made.
Thursday August 02, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 35, Fledge Watch Day 20, Birds now 63 Days old
Today, (August 2nd), and for the fist time, only one bird was observed upon our arrival at 4:30pm for the evening food drop, and he was not motivated at all to come to the hack box for food.
Sadly we were not able to stay, and had to run back to the CPF head office, but later returned at 6:30 pm. After two and three quarters hours of scanning the hack site building, the communications tower and all of the usual hiding & roosting places, only one bird appeared from within the communication tower. The bird was either Tybropa-Cree or Spirit-Hunter given the coloured leg band. Sadly, the sun was setting low in the west, and the coloured band was flushed with light and we were unable to decide if it was Yellow or White. He walked around a cross-member for a while, then took flight over top of the hack box, swinging around south – then east and flew out of our heads way off to the east!! By 8:55 pm, we finally located him with the hi-power spotting scope roosting on the water tower at Warden and Eglinton.
After a brief observation, he took flight again, this time flying back over our new observation position and proceeded to land on the south west lower elevation of the hack site building. For the next few minutes we watched him eat and consume some very fresh food that had obviously been stashed at this location earlier.
Unable to return to the hack site roof top, we were unable to check to see how many of the 4 food packages were consumed / eaten during our absence earlier in the evening when we had to leave. By the time we departed the area, only one birds had been observed. It is important to know that we are providing more than enough food on a daily basis, (far more that they can consume on a daily basis), and as such, their low activity during as a results of this hot humid conditions, it is expected that the birds would not be very motivated to eat these enormous food packages that we are leaving each day. In addition, it is also believed that they may be successful in the odd hunting foray, and that they are now getting some “native food sources” on their own. Time will tell, stay tuned…………..
** As a foot note, I must admit that both Marion and I were feeling very uncomfortable, almost depressed about the evenings observations – (or should I say the lack of). For the next several hours, the telephone continued to ring as everyone called in for their daily updates on the happenings at the hack site. Throughout the balance of the evening, no matter what tried to do, we always found ourselves talking about the birds, and wondering where they might be.
By the time the last phone call came in, and we were finally able to get to bed, sometime around 2am, I can tell you that we had talked ourselves in a very stressful sleepless night! I can speak for the entire CPF watch crew, as we have all become quite attached to the four birds indeed. It is going to be very difficult for all when they start disappearing from the hack site for their migration, and their dispersal is only several weeks away. Migration for some birds has already started!!!!
Wednesday July 25, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 27, Fledge Watch Day 12, Birds now 55 Days old
Afternoon watch, - 3:30pm
Our arrival was met with all four birds in the air, vocalizing with a alarm call amongst themselves as they made constant circles around the hack site and the communications tower. Many touch-and-go’s – (short take offs and landings) were observed by al four birds as they flew from the hack site building to the tower and back again. The birds kept up their alarm calling for almost an hour. Our attention was quickly drawn to the 2 men about half way up the communication tower trying to do some work with all of this going on. After about an hour, the four birds took refuse on the hack box and watched as the 2 men worked their way higher up the communications. Resolved that they were no longer in danger, the birds roosted quietly in and on the hack box pretty much until the evening food drop.
By 5:30pm, Bruce was in position to drop the food at the box, while we assembled on the ground and set up our watch positions. All four birds took flight and sounded off the alarm call at Bruce’s arrival on the roof area, and he scurried to get the four food packages through the feeding tube of the hack box, and he quickly exited the area. Before he had been able to call us on the 2-way radios to inform us that he was leaving the roof area itself, all four birds had landed hack box porch and were starting to tear into the evenings food! For the next hour, the birds all ate. By 7pm, all four of the birds were air-borne again, with the typical games of tag that we have being observing over the past ten days. BUTTERFLIES LOOKOUT!! At one point, Alexander-Mombo looked like he had actually caught one of the butterflies mid flight!
During these intense games of tag and touch, two the males flew in a incredible stoop to the east over the Wal-Mart parking lot where they were observed diving on a young airborne pigeon. For several minutes, we all watched the two juvenile peregrines perform several shallow stoops and dives, and chase the pigeon around in circles (the size of the parking lot itself), until the pigeon disappeared from our view far south east of Warden and Eglinton. Several minutes later, the two juvenile peregrines returned back to land on the hack box and communications tower.
While this was happening, the other two juveniles were chasing each other around while one carried a large package of food that it had grabbed from the hack box. After three circuits around the Bell building, (loosing altitude on each revolution), the fledgling finally dropped the food package. We all watched as it fell to the upper roof top of the grey facility to the east of the hack building, (only 8 to 10 feet above ground level). Both birds exhausted and definitely out of steam, they managed to land on the lowest rung of the communications tower – (approx. 15 to 20 feet above street level). Both panting, they remained there for almost 40 minutes to recharge energy levels before they flew again. They were identified by their colour bands as Spirit-Hunter and Tybropa-Cree. ** It was evident that they two juveniles that chased the pigeon during this same period was Alexander-Mombo and Freya-Sasha!
By 8:15 or so, just when we thought every one was settling in for the evening, two of the fledglings exploded into the air once again, but this very close indeed!! Two fledgling pigeons that we have been watching for the past weeks being reared by the adult pigeons, took flight at exactly the same time from the top of the middle window sills on the south side of the hack site building. Both peregrines in pursuit as they dived down to almost ground level only several feet from our observation positions on the ground.. One of the young fledgling pigeons was struck by the first juvenile peregrine (on a second very shallow stoop not more than tree height)! As the pigeon attempted to gain its altitude, it was struck by the second juvenile peregrine on a fly by back across the lawn area, once again on several feet from the ground!!! The stunned pigeon fell to the grass only thirty feet from my ground watch position. Both peregrine finally arrived back to the hack box appearing quite pleased with their performance!! The pigeon, un-harmed, but very confused as to what had just happened to it, remained on the ground until darkness. I later flew off into the tree to the south of the lot.
As darkness fell, all four peregrines had taken up their evening roosting spots on the communications tower. The food package dropped earlier on in the evening remained on the lower roof elevation and was not retrieved by any of the peregrines.
Tuesday July 24, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 26, Fledge Watch Day 11, Birds now 54 Days old
Upon arrival, 3 birds were visible on various roosting spots around the building and on the communications tower. Some short flights strong observed, combined with some decent landings. Starting to look like they know what their doing!! Also noted, that some of the fledglings are starting to take notice of the local bird population, especially the pigeons in the neighborhood. (This is very good news indeed)!
Throughout the afternoon, several of the juveniles joined in a game of chasing several butterflies, and while they were not even close in catching them, many very decent attempts were witnessed. All of the birds are starting to twist and turn in mid flight as they attempted to change directions in mid stream while chasing the butterflies. Several intense games of “touch tag” between three birds was observed in the later afternoon despite the hot sun and humidity that obviously shortened their breath, and had them quickly run out of steam and ended up landing on lower elevations after several missed landing attempts on the preferred upper landing spots on the communications tower. Needless to say, all of the managed to stay at some altitude and did not come to the ground.
They are all expanding their flight distances from the hack site, as we have watched several of the juveniles fly out east beyond Warden Ave and well beyond Victoria Park to the west. Many flights by all to the huge hydro lines to the north are being made, and all are actually using the top of the hydro towers as roosting spots to re-charge before returning to the hack site.
Evening Food drop:
As usual, it as a race between the juvenile female – Freya-Sasha and her brother - Spirit-Hunter to the hack box for the evening meal. We have stopped the morning feedings, (although the same quantity of food is still being put out on a daily basis), it is only being put out in the evenings at the regular time. Full bird carcasses are the order of the day now, (no longer prepared food packages), and I must say that they all of the fledglings are preparing their own food with the typical skill of adult peregrines. Tybropa-Cree was next to the hack box, trying to convince his sister to share her food, but once again she would nothing of it, as she mantled over her meal. He then grabbed an entire quail and flew off with it around to the west, followed by his brother Alexander-Mombo. They actually squabbled with each other while in flight and eventually they both landed on the low rise apartment building rooftop on the west side of Pharmacy Ave. Several minutes later, (after allot of screaming by both birds), Alexander-Mombo flew back with the food package to the south lower elevation of the hack site building
Unable to hold his altitude with the heavy food package. Tybropa-Cree followed close behind, but was unable to convince his brother to share. Tybropa-Cree then returned back to the hack box porch where the other two were still eating, and he finally got another food package of his own.
At around 7:30pm, (typical of the past weeks events, all of the birds seem to get a charge of energy, and numerous flights by al four juveniles were observed. Once again, several intense games of “chase and touch” were observed, along with several butterflies that were harassed, most of which needing a change of their underpants after the fledglings had finished them!! ** No Butterflies were actually caught, but it was not for the lack of the peregrines trying!!
By evening end, all four birds had eaten and were stuffed with food. Several juveniles returned back to the hack box throughout the intense games to eat a little more, and by dark, all were back on the communications tower roosting up for the evening.
Monday July 23, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Hack Day 25, Fledge Watch Day 10, Birds now 53 Days old
While some might consider this day to be un-eventful, it was a afternoon filled with some exciting events, at least for us on the watch, and the young peregrines. The morning food drop turned into a early afternoon food drop as Marion and I were summoned to the CPF head office while on route to the Scar. hack site to deal with two urgent matters that needed immediate attention . The morning quickly turned to early afternoon, and we were finally able to return to the hack site around 1:30pm. The food drop was completed, and only three fledglings were visible. They seemed quite uninterested in the food. **We were told by the early day watch that the only three fledglings were visible throughout the early morning, and that they were distant from the hack box on various roosts to the north and east most of this period.
Finally, after 10 to 15 minutes, three of the juveniles did come in to the food on the hack box and ate together on the landing platform of the hack box
Given that our four little feathered friends are still receiving two full feedings a day, they have been given more food than needed at this period of time on a daily basis. We are also removing large lots of left over food scraps at each food drop, telling us that they are not eating each and every days total food allotment.
Now almost two weeks out of the hack box, we are assured by their daily actions with stronger and longer flights being observed, and that they all have now build the necessary muscle mass and improved skills to sustain prolonged periods of flight, able to gain altitude, and well on their way to mastering the various wind conditions. The birds made many flights this afternoon tooo numerous to mention, combined with a flurry of touch and games throughout the day, sometimes with all four birds participating in the aerial games.
By 5pm, Bruce was on site and to the hack box for the evening food drop. As expected, the birds had very little interest given that the morning food drop was so very late. By 6:30pm, we were all alerted by a flurry of peregrines flying in excitement, with alarm sounds being expressed by all four birds as a Great Blue Heron flew directly over the hack site building, only 100 feet or so above the roof top. Three juveniles gave chase as they screamed out to the south in pursuit the Heron. This time, the juvenile female – Freya-Sasha was in the lead followed by her two brothers. As the Heron flew south of Eglinton Ave, two the juvenile falcons broke off their chase, with the third juvenile still in pursuit of the Heron. Moments later as they Heron soared out of our view, the juvenile female finally returned and landed on the communications tower.
Shortly after this event, the birds took a keen interest in the food at the hack box. Boy were they in for a surprise!!! Unlike all of the other feedings to date, this evening food drop had not been prepared, and 2 full – very much intact bird carcasses have been dropped at the hack box. It is time for the juveniles to realize that the food they are eating (and will be eating) is in fact a bird, fully feathered, wings and head attached, and will no longer be “prepared”!! Quite a shock indeed!!!!
Tybropa-Cree was the first to arrive at the hack box to inspect the food, and as we expected, his body language clearly expressed his confusion and bewildered looks told the entire story! He then panic and bolted into flight over to the communications tower vocalizing all the way over. Freya-Sasha alerted by his calls, took notice, and flew to the hack box landing on the hack pox porch. With her head bobbing up and down, she jumped around the bird carcass several time, running in circles, then finally jumped on the bird. She was observed “footing” the carcass on numerous occasions, all of the time screaming at the food. It took almost five minutes for her to settle down, and settle in to this “unknown object” resting on the landing platform of the hack box. I must admit, we all had a great chuckle at the birds surprise. After a while, Freya-Sasha stopped screaming at the bird, and eventually started to pluck the feathers from the carcass. All of this activity alerted Alexander-Mombo who was the third juvenile to attend the hack box. He watched Freya-Sasha as she plucked, pulled, yanked, and finally discovered “red meat”!! He joined in trying to convince her to share her bird, but she would have nothing to do with this sharing thing this time! Alexander-Mombo then entered the hack box and removed the second full bird carcass to the hack box porch. Vocalizing the entire time, he (under great protest), started to pluck the bird carcass. Funning watching him atop of the bird carcass as he wobbled while trying to roost on it with both feet! Spirit-Hunter was the third bird to arrive at the hack box amongst all of the screaming and vocalizing by his siblings at the hack box. He quickly joined in with Alexander-Mombo, participating in a joint effort in the plucking of the bird carcass, where they eventually discovered red meat!
Tybropa-Cree finally returned once again to the hack box about fifteen minutes into the feeding, and was allowed by his sister to share her bird with her. For the next 45 minutes we watched all four juveniles struggle with the full bird carcasses, but eventually all four juveniles filled their crops, very satisfied with the evenings feeding activities.
From this time on, feeding will be reduced to once a day, in the evenings only, as planned (and on schedule), and only full bird carcasses will be offered now. They will no longer be “prepared” food packages as in the past. This procedure will encourage the juvenile falcons to look far more closer at the other wild “native birds” that are in abundance around them. They soon will be looking at the wild native bird populations in a very different light, no longer as simply neighbors & house guests or play things.
Sunday July 22, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Day 24 on the Hack, Day 9 on the Fledge watch, Birds now 52 Days old.
At Bruce’s arrival and by 6:00am, the fireworks had already started as all four of the fledglings were observed in the air sounding off alarm calls! Bruce observed an adult male peregrine flying in from the north, while the panic flights of the four fledglings continued. Moments later, this adult peregrine landed on the hack site building (south west corner), where it spent a few moments watching the screaming fledglings as they made many short flights to and from the hack site roof top to the communications tower. At this time, the adult peregrine vocalized a breeding call, - Eeee-chup” as it bowed to several of the juveniles during their fly over’s of this birds roosting position. Then the adult peregrine took flight in a half hearted effort to chase one or the juvenile peregrines, followed then by a second fledgling in pursuit of the other two.
Helter-skelter with five birds in flight, alarm calling, crossing over one another’s flight path and a huge “confuses say” as to whom was who. At one point, several birds collided with each other as they all swarmed together as they flew in this panic flight. After several minutes of flurry with five peregrines in flight, (and unable to tell who was chasing who by this time), eventually four birds were observed landing on various locations of the hack building and tower, identified as the fledglings. Throughout the scurry, the adult male peregrine had either been driven off, (or simply abandon the site due to the mass flurry of peregrines in pursuit)??
** NOTE: While the male adult peregrine was roosting on the building, we were able to get a partial identification of the band colour, and it was consistent to that of Ruben - (the male peregrine that was nesting with Lawrie on the Bell building during the 2005 & 2006 season). We can only speculate that he visited to check out all of the activity that going on at his old nesting site?? Interestingly, the Yellow pages building where Ruben and his mate Lawrie are now nesting can be easily seen from the Bell roof top, even on a hazy day.
Throughout the balance of the day, it was really un-eventful compared to the morning’s happenings. All four fledglings took some very good long distant flights in all directions. Several were able to gain allot of altitude, landing on the tops of the hydro towers to the north, and made good landings!
By evenings end, all four birds had returned to the hack box for the evening food drop. It is also worth noting that they are all starting to carry food packages from the hack box, flying off to another part of the building in an effort to “stash and hide” some of the food packages. All four birds are still eating together at the hack box, and while the odd scuffle still occurs between the four at feeding time, they are all still visibly glad to meet at the hack box during the evening feeding food drop. The typical “beak touching” amongst of four is still being observed as they return to greet each other on their arrival at the box.
Saturday July 21, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Day 23 on the Hack, Day 8 on the Fledge watch, Birds now 51 Days old.
We were greeted by high very high wind and wind guests throughout most of the day, and all of the birds did very little flying. Somewhat of a boring day indeed in comparison to the other days so far on the fledge watch. The higher winds made for some very challenging take-offs and difficult landings. Many of the birds were challenged in their efforts to gain the desired altitude that they wanted, and as such, they spent most of the day roosting.
The evening feeding was met by all four juveniles attending the hack box for the evening meal, and all four birds had settled down on the communications tower by dark. Quite an un-eventful day. **** (NICE STRESS FREE DAY FOR A CHANGE)!!!!!!!
Friday July 20, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Day 22 on the Hack, Day 7 on the Fledge watch, Birds now 50 Days old.
AM Shift - Once again at the morning food drop, all four birds were visible, - all roosting on spots of the communications tower, which seems to be a favorite spot these days. They are all venturing higher up the tower these days, showing some confidence now, as they are about half way up the tower on various roosting perches that each has chosen as their favorites.
The wind has been very constant throughout the entire month, and while it has for the most parts assisted the young juveniles with their altitude gaining, it has made for some interesting bump & tumble landings, along with many aborted landings on various parts of the facility and tower as they all experiment their new found flight skills.
Some have been much slower to develop these skills, while others are far more graceful. Still,, most of the landings we have observed are quite hilarious as they are still pretty rough – consistent of the typical juveniles only two weeks out of the nest. Throughout the day, the birds are changing roosting spots to avoid the hot mid-day and later day sun, and on several occasions, they have returned to roost under the hack box for the shade. The evenings have been much cooler in contrast to the heat of the day, (12 to 16 degrees) and all of the bird’s apatite has been very good especially for the evening food drops.
The later afternoon had three of the birds in flight playing the usual touch and go from their various landing spots, in addition to several games of “tag and touch” with each other while in flight.
At 3:45pm, one of the young juveniles sounded off an alarm call, and seconds later our attention was directed to a large Turkey Vulture flying in from the north, ending up directly overhead of the Bell building no more than 30 feet above the hack box itself. All four juvenile peregrines exploded into flight, with two of the juveniles briefly in half-hearted pursuit of the Turkey Vulture!!! One of the two juvenile peregrine males actually chased / escorted the Turkey Vulture north of the hydro lines to the north of the hack site. Minutes later, the juveniles both returned to the hack site building.
At 4:03pm, more alarm calls were heard from three of the juvenile falcons, and once again our attention was drawn to TWO Turkey Vultures floating overhead the hack site. The Turkey Vultures eventually soared off to the south, and the young peregrines were silenced.
By the evening food drop, all four birds were back on the communications tower waiting. As soon as we are off the roof after putting out the food, all of the birds are MOST EAGER to get to the hack box for the evening food drop. In most every case, the shy one, the female - Freya-Sasha is the first to the hack box, followed by her cling on brother - Tybropa-Cree who spend a lot of time together.
The birds are still not showing any interest in other birds, but we know that will soon come. By watch end at the end of the watch, all four birds were back roosting on the communications tower at various levels and settling in for the evening.
Tuesday July 17, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Fledge Watch Day 4
The morning feeding was met with much excitement by all, as all four birds rushed in to the hack box even before Marion was able to get off the roof. One of the birds followed Marion in the air as she walked from the entrance to the hack box, while screaming at her. Upon her arrival at the hack box, all four birds bolted from their roosting spots on the box and the surrounding ledges into the air, with several of them doing “laps” around the building as they waited for the food drop.
Throughout the day, all four birds had much stronger flights, and a noticeable improvement over yesterday. With the exception of the female – Freya-Sasha, all of the males had some very good “almost controlled landings”, most without serious incident. All of the birds did laps in the air around the building throughout the day, with many take-off’s and landings. On several occasions, the birds were observed flying in pairs, playing the typical game of “tag and touch” with each other, and on two occasions, they were joined by a third bird who participated in the game. By the end of the day, all of the birds were starting to look like pros, with much better take off’s, and MUCH better landings!!! Only a few slips, but no bumps into the walls. No one came to the ground!!
They are all starting to do larger circuit flights around the building, with two round the building flights having been expanded out to the end of the Wal-Mart parking lot to the east. Several short round-about flights have had them venture just south of Eglinton Ave. They are all definitely building the necessary muscle mass and learning very quickly, as each serious of flights is getting longer and longer on each occasion. So far, the longest continuous flight has been just under 1 minute 40 seconds. While he did run out of gas during this flight, and panicked to land on the Wal-Mart roof top just above the main entrance on the south side of the building, he managed to land on the roof and stay off of the ground!
At the close of the watch this evening, all four birds were back at the hack box settled in for the evening.
Monday July 16, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Fledge Watch Day 3
To say the day was uneventful couldn’t be further from the truth as it kept us very busy in the streets while trying to keep all four birds in view during their short flights. The good news, is that while all of the birds continue to experience some of the worst landings we have ever seen, with some hard hits to the upper roof edges and lower elevation bumps and grinds with the walls and roof slopes, there have been no “crash & burns” as a result. All of the fledglings have managed to stay off the ground and out of the trees, and rescues have not been needed. Mostly short flights back and forth from the building to the communications tower and back as the birds continue to exercise their wings and practice their take offs and landings. Many flights too numerous to report were observed throughout the day with their confidence and skills improving with each flight.
Shortly after 10:30 am in the morning, Bruce was alerted by the two juvenile falcons vocalizing an alarm warning call from the upper south elevation of the roof top where two of the fledglings were roosting, and once again and for a second time during this fledge watch, to his horror, Bruce noticed a large adult male Red-tailed hawk perched on the communication tower way up on the top antenna. Moments later, Frank reported on the 2-way radios to the group after being alerted by the two juvenile peregrines distress call as they roosted on the north side of the Bell building, of a second Red-tail soaring in from the north,- (this one being a adult female), eventually landing on the communication tower and joining the first Red-tail hawk.
For the next 40 minutes, (and a very tense 40 minutes indeed)!!!, the two Red-tail hawks perched on the communications tower scanning the area to the south of Eglinton. All four juvenile peregrines remain motionless and quiet as if they were statues. A most unusual observation, as these young fledgling peregrines have more energy than you could ever imagine. Eventually, both of the Red-tail hawks took flight together, and like a man on a mission, flew to the south under constant wing beats picking up speed with every flap. They quickly disappeared from our view to the south.
The balance of the day was filled with dozens of very short flights, and as many short “touch & go’s”. Marion put out the evening food to the hack box, and all four juveniles seemed more than eager to get back to the hack box for diner. Once again, the juvenile Freya –Sasha was the first to return back to the hack box for the evening food drop, followed quickly by her brother Tybropa-Cree. It appears that these two are joined at the hip, as most of their flights and activity throughout the day were together. The other two brothers - Spirit-Hunter & Alexander-Mombo have also pair bonded, and were observed spending most of their time together throughout the day.
By 9:30pm at the close of the fledge watch, all four birds were in and around the hack box by darkness, settled in for the night.
Sunday July 15, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Fledge Watch Day 2
5am to 9:30pm
Without rescue, (and while it took most of the day), Tybropa-Cree and Spirit-Hunter did eventually make it back to the upper roof area by late afternoon and evening. Both birds had much better flights throughout the day, as each flight was greatly improved over the last one. Many short flights were documented - from the roof to the communications tower and back again. Some very terrible landings, (slips and falls down the walls), but all without injury.
Alexander-Mombo and Freya-Sasha also had many short flights too numerous , most of which had very poor landings also, brushing and slipping off of the roof top flashings and some “bumps and grinds” with the building walls and communication towers rungs. Eventually, by late day watch, both birds were able to return to the upper roof top elevation on their own steam. By the close of the evening watch, al four juveniles were at the upper roof level (two at the hack box) consuming the evening feeding.
Saturday July 14, 2007
Mark Nash reports: Release Day – Fledge Watch Day 1
9am to 9:45pm
On schedule, (and at approx. 44 days old for the oldest juvenile), the 4 young peregrines were released from the hack box this past Saturday July 14th / 2007. Shortly after 9 am on Saturday morning, the CPF falcon watch team assembled to go over the final release plans. The birds were fed at 10 am as planned and were given an hour of uninterrupted breakfast period to finish their morning meal prior to being released. During this time, we were able to do a final equipment and radio check, and go over the final observation locations, rescue protocols and procedures.
At approx. 11am, and with Bruce, Marion, Linda, Frank, Emma, and myself in position, Michael Quigley from Bell Canada and Marion attended the hack box to remove 5 of the centre bars that have been holding the young peregrines in the hack box over the past weeks.
Much to our surprise, it was over an hour before the first juvenile ventured out of the hack box to the landing platform. As expected, the first bird out of the hack box was the female – (Freya-Sasha), followed by her brother Alexander-Mombo. They were later joined by their other two brother - Spirit-Hunter and Tybropa-Cree. By 12:20 pm in the afternoon, all four birds were now out on the hack box landing platform looking at their new world – now being displayed to them in “Three-D”. For the next 10 minutes, the young peregrines all took their turns flapping their wings and running around the “porch” area of the hack box.
At approx. 12:30 pm our worst nightmare occurred! Frank announced to the group via the two way radios that a very large adult female Red-tailed hawk was observed soaring in from the north of the nest building, and to our horror , we all watched this huge Red-tail circle around directly overhead of the Bell building and hack box,, quite clearly with its attention on the four juvenile peregrines still on the hack box landing platform porch! The adult female Red-tailed hawk zoned in to the huge communications tower on the property, landing on a cross-member of the tower several meters higher than the hack box’s elevation, with its sights focused on the four juvenile peregrines. At this time, ALL of the juvenile peregrines still on the hack box porch actually froze like statues. Over the next 40 minutes, the Red-tailed hawk changed its position on the communications tower several times, each time positioning itself both closer to the hack box.
I can speak for the group as the chatter on the 2-way radios WAS BUZZING TO SAY THE LEAST, as we discussed our options as to what we should do. Panic and a horrific sinking feeling was abound as we resigned ourselves to accept the fact that it was very possible we would loose a juvenile today at the hands of this adult female Red-tailed hawk. Clearly the adult Red-tailed hawk was eyeing the juvenile peregrines as a potential meal!! With the use of the hi-power spotting scope, it was quite evident that the Red-tail’s crop was sunken-in, and quite clear that she had not eaten and was out hunting for a meal!! With no real plan of attack and nothing that we could really do, we waited, and waited, and waited. Given that one of more of the juvenile peregrines would likely be scared or forced off the hack box and into a pre-mature fledge flight should we return to the roof, (and be a really easy target for this red-tail, we had no choice but to wait and pray that the young peregrines would continue to hold at the box, and not fly! Almost as instinct were alerting them, they did not fly at this time, and were just as alarmed at the presence of the Red-tail as we were. Two of the juvenile peregrines were very vocal with sounding off an alarm call, (very unlike a feeding call) at the Red-tail’s arrival to the communication tower.
THERE MUST BE A PEREGRINE GOD!!!
At approx. 1:00pm, (and a VERY LONG, VERY TENSE WAIT INDEED)!!!,, a young immature Ring Billed Gull arrived on scene, flying at the same level of the Red-tailed, screaming IN PANIC at the Red-tail as it continued its attention on the hack box porch. The immature Gull seemed to be taunting the Re-tail, as it flew directly out in front of the Red-tail, around and around in a circle at the same level where the Red-tail was perched. THEN SOMETHING INCREDIBLE HAPPENED!!
As the immature Gull finally flew off to the south west of the of the communications tower and the hack box, the huge adult female Red-tail bolted from its roosting perch on the tower and dove onto and attacked the Gull. While we all watched (including all of the four juvenile peregrines still frozen like statues on the Hack Box porch), the Red-tail literally “snatched the Gull” out of the air in front of us, and flew around the west side of the Bell building over the heads!!! The Red-tail proceeded to fly with the Gull in its clutches to the top of a light standard to the north side of the Bell building – (north side of Ashtonbee Ave).
Linda reported by radio as she watched in horror, the Gull still struggling in the clutches of the Red-tail being eaten alive atop of the light standard! Moments later, and for some unknown reason, the Ret-tail released the Gull, (still alive), as Linda watched it fall to the ground. (Perhaps the stories are true in-that Gulls don’t taste very good)?? The Red-tail then took flight from its roosting spot atop of the light standard, and gained altitude as it flew and soared off to the west where we lost it from our view. Several minutes passed, and Bruce reported that the young juvenile peregrines started their flapping routine again and got active on the hack box porch.
Over the next eight hours, ALL of the juvenile peregrines took their first flights, some took their second and third flights. Two needed to be rescued from the ground area, both from secured access areas that needed Bell managements assistance for a rescue. Michael Quigley to the rescue on both occasions! Talk about overtime after hours work indeed! THANK YOU MICHAEL!!!
The Female was the first to go at approx. 2:30 pm, with a good effort that eventually had her loose allot of altitude on this fist attempt, and she ended up in a tree on the north east site of the building, only several feet from the ground. Moments later she tried again to get out of the tree’s cover flying very low (at head level) around the north side of the building, then south on the east of the building trying to gain altitude back to the hack box. Sadly, she was unable to reach the upper roof area, and slid down the east wall into a secured area at ground level. She was eventually located, and our calls when out to Mr. Quigley for his assistance to perform the rescue from this secured access area. No worse for wear, she was returned to the hack box after a quick inspection for any injuries.
Alexander-Mombo was the second bird to get into trouble on his maiden flight, eventually coming to the ground after unsuccessfully trying to get back to the hack box. Several aborted landing attempts, and unable to gain the necessary altitude to return to the roof area, he ended up on the ground in yet another secured area where we could not rescue him without Bell’s assistance. Michael Quigley to the rescue again, and he was for a second time, paged for his assistance. Marion and Michael retrieved Alexander-Mombo, and he was returned to the roof hack box after a quick inspection.
The other two juveniles – Spirit-Hunter and Tybropa-Cree took flight at the exact time, and it was helter-skelter on the ground for us, as the 2-way radio’s lit up with panicked voices reporting their positions as they flew lost altitude flying around the building. Freya-Sasha eventually landed on the roof top of the low rise apartment buildings on the west site of Pharmacy Ave, and the second juvenile – (Tybropa-Cree) landed on the over head hydro wires just above the roadway north of the Bell building. Eventually Tybropa-Cree unable to balance on the hydro wires, flew off to the west and was able to join her brother Tybropa-Cree on the low rise apartment building roof top. They spent the next four hours running back and forth on the roof apartment roof top trying to position themselves to get a flight back to the Hack site.
Later that evening, they both eventually took a second, third, and forth flight and were successful in gaining altitude, landing low on the communication tower to the east sot he hack site building, then eventually able to return to the Bell building on the window sills below the roof level on the south side of the building. By the end of the days fledge watch, two birds still low, two birds back at the upper roof area and Hack Box elevation.
NOTE: The evening feed was completed by 5pm, with two birds able to feed, (Alexander-Mombo and the female Freya-Sasha). Two juveniles Tybropa-Cree and Spirit-Hunter did not get back to the roof elevation to feed.
© Canadian Peregrine Foundation