Off Campus at William Osler

July 04, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

On Friday, Winston was out in the evening doing a site check on the fab four and observed little Blue taking his first approved trip off the property to the north hydro tower.  Winston reports;

The William Osler peregrines took a gull!!  I didn’t see it but security pointed out the remains.  I started to do a head count but was unsure if everyone was around as they wouldn’t sit still long enough to be sure.  I was able to photograph Blue and Red for sure and both adults.  Tag was very much on the agenda.  Once things settled down I started my head count and found a juvenile in the north tower with no reaction from the adults.  This was a sanctioned off campus visit.  One adult took off hunting and I continued to try and locate all four young.  Three juveniles were all huddled together on the eastern H, the parents roost spot (not so anynore).  I went to check on the one in the north tower and it was indeed Blue.  A great night of flying with all four juveniles in sight.

Winston

Tuesday July 1st. Canada Day Close of William Osler Watch

July 01, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

The William Osler family of four are definately on their way.  The juveniles are all now showing some great skills in flight and are no longer in need of our help.  Tonight the young ones were all practicing their talon touching in preparation for the food exchanges and hunting training that they will receive during the rest of the summer.  The family looks fantastic and we are so excited to see them doing so well.

The William Osler Name the Chick contest will be closing shortly and the four juveniles will all be receiving their official names.  We look forward to the staff’s selections this year and anticipate that they will wear them well.  I will update you as soon as the names are selected.

I have way too many people to thank for this watch going so incredibly well.  The William Osler nest site hosts have been amazing and I must thank Ross for his continued support and assistance.  The great folks at Paragon Security have been amazing and I can’t thank you enough for all of your assistance.  Of course, I also must thank the incredible team of individuals that made the watch possible!  My heartfelt thank you goes out to Rob, Bonnie, Lucie, Winston, Mark and Bruce for all of their generous support and gift of their time.  We did it everyone!  Great job.

Catching Up. Monday June 30th at William Osler

June 30, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Well, it would seem that Red is back to her old self and her old tricks after her epic flight last nigh.  By morning she was back on the nest ledge and howling at her siblings once more.  A morning feed came into the nest ledge and all four juveniles congregated for the feeding.  Meal time has certainly now lost its friendliness and its every juvenile for himself.  The food package was dumped unceremoniously on the ledge by Hurricane and the kids fought over it until it was gone.  By the afternoon, Blue was really showing his advanced skills by practicing his kiting above the hospital roof.  He was in complete control and started experimenting with changing wing positions subtly and how that would effect his flight.  It was really neat to watch him figure all of this out.  He learned this technique from Hurricane who would often kite right in front of the ledge and the kids in the hopes of inciting a flight.  His son has picked up this rather quickly and has already mastered it.

By the evening, well…  …pandemonium!!  All four juveniles were now buzzing around the hospital playing tag and chasing the parents.  You could tell that this was getting more skilled and serious as they weren’t doing the typical clumsy flap and scream technique but rather sneaking up on each other in stealth mode.  As always, the best is when they get chasing Hurricane.  They start with laps around the hospital with Hurricane in the lead and just when they think they are catching up to him…   …a flick of the tail and reset of the wings and he’s rocketing around and coming up behind them!  The evening was filled with family flights around the immediate territory and pigeon rewards from Chessie to end the day.

I will be down tomorrow for one last day at the watch as it looks as though this family is well on their way and no longer needing our help.

Sunday June 29th at William Osler

June 29, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Today Bruce started the watch allowing me a moment to sleep in which I was so grateful for after getting home from Renfrew so late.  Bruce had a feeding come in for the morning which of course had the whole family of fliers really revved up and while there was some activity in the morning, it was over quickly and on to more important napping and preening jobs.  The day went by rather quickly as we watched the juveniles exploring the territory and practicing their flights.  It was to be evening though that the real flight show began.

All four juveniles were playing tag with Hurricane and generally being a nuisance to the parents.  The boys would gang up on Red and had her screaming her dissatisfaction with this until Chessie would come in and break it up.  Yellow would then take the sneaky approach and fly in behind white and give him a chase or two.  It was around the evening feed that Red took to the air and made for the tower.  By this time I was joined by Winston and we were watching as she veered off her landing and made a return flight towards the nest ledge.  She didn’t have the altitude to make the ledge and so she swung back around the building and out to the north.  She circled, gained some altitude and tried again for the nest ledge.  Nope.  Position all wrong.  Now she went back out and circled again but she was too low now and made for the low medical centre roof.  She was going to land but changed her mind and headed back towards the main building.  She had been in the air now over 2 minutes and was feeling it.  She landed on the 5th floor window ledge and took a break.  It wasn’t long before she was in the air again and making excellent decisions even though they weren’t getting her what she wanted.  Again she ended up on a window ledge on the north side.  Flight number three, now she’s really tuckered, but she managed to get back around to the east side.  She tried to land on the hydro wires but she’s a tank and that wasn’t going to work.  She ended up on the east side on a window ledge right below the nest ledge.  There she stayed and ran the ledge several times before settling in for the night.

While Red may have ended up on a window ledge, she is a flighted juvenile.  She will have no trouble getting back up to the ledge come morning once she has had a chance to rest but just in case, we will be continuing the watch for Monday and Tuesday.  Thanks to Bruce and Winston who were out with me today.  The flights were awesome to watch!!

!!! The best is yet to come!!! Photographers get your camera’s!!!

July 05, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Mark Nash Reports:

The best is yet to come!!! Photographers get your camera’s!!!
Remember that the family rearing process is far from being over, as its now dads turn. Over the next 30 plus days, the adult males will be doing most of the flight and hunt training with the fledglings, leaving the resident adult females some time to themselves to catch up on some most needed sleep and de-stress time. WE often see the adult females on the nest ledges doing some est box or nest tray rearranging and sleeping.

The fledglings will still be completely dependant on the adults for food, protection and support for the next 30 to 60 days as they will be staying very close to home around the nest buildings.

We often forget that the fledglings (I guess we can call them juveniles now, as they are the equivalent of teenagers in their mind set), still have no idea that they have actually been eating birds, as their food has been prepared by their parents. Many of the food packages have already had their heads removed, and with many of the feathers already having been removed, and as such, the juveniles have had no idea what they have actually been eating!
Of course its birds and only birds, but the young peregrines must be taught this!

They must be taught how to chase, stoop and dive for things and encouraged to chase their parents for the food. They must be shown what to hunt, how to hunt, how to catch it and how to kill it and then how to prepare it. The fledglings still have a long way to go before they are actually able to catch food themselves!

For the next few weeks, its all fun and games (at least for the fledglings),, but they are actually be taught important life skills that will prepare them for survival on their own this fall.

The fledglings, (juveniles) will succumb to a couple of thousand years to migrate in the fall and they will be on their own.
Most all of the resident territorial nesting adults at our southern Ontario urban nest sites will NOT migrate, and they will stay on territory all year. The adults have learned that you they can survive in the city all year long, (urban adaptation), and have figured out that there is an abundance of food around all year long, ideal habitat, no predation and lots of warmth from the buildings, especially from that of the illuminated signs that they roost on.

But the young of the year will go! Being creatures of habit (almost to a fault), what they know, they deal with,,, what they don’t know, they avoid! So its up to the parents to teach them as much as they can over next two months so the fledglings have the necessary life skills to be able to survive on their own. The fledgling juveniles typically migrate south to central and southern America for the winter months and have a very long trip south with many dangers.

Also remember, that the peregrine has more than an 80% mortality rate until it reaches breeding age (typically between two and three years of age), with the higher percentage of this mortality happening in the first year of their lives.

For all of the photographers out there, this is the best opportunity for some incredible photos of the adults training the fledglings over the next 30 plus days!! This is the time to really enjoy your peregrines,, so get out there with your cameras and spend some time with them!

William Osler Sat June 28; What a Day!!

June 28, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Rob started off the morning shift at the William Osler nest site with an absolute bang.  He was able to locate blue and yellow right away as blue was flying like a rock star and yellow was in the tower screaming about it at the top of her lungs.  He scanned the usual places for signs of the other two and no one was to be found.  He was approached by a police officer that was curious to know what he was looking at and they struck up a great conversation.  Half way through the officer asked if the bird on the emergency drive overhang was one of the peregrines and suddenly Rob was face to face with little Big Red.  She was now found!  All through his conversation with the officer and search for the missing two, Rob had been texting me and I could barely contain my excitement for him.  I wanted to head home right away and help but we still had the event to complete.  It goes without saying that my mind was back at William Osler.  The texts between us were flying as so were the birds he was watching.  Red flew and headed over to the residential area and blue had disappeared to the west.  Yellow was screaming in the tower and white was still nowhere to be seen.  At some point red flew again and ended up in a tree and then off to the low medical centre roof.  It was then that Rob also found white on the same roof and realized that he had been up on the emergency roof as well.  Now Rob had all 4 young ones bee bopping around with only one of them having real experience.  I texted all the watchers and sent out the help call to which they all responded.  Winston arrived first to give Rob a hand with a head count.  Bruce arrived from downtown and Bonnie was there as well helping to keep an eye on the 3 chicks in sight.  Lucie came down to join the watch crew and Rob went home for a well deserved rest.  Winston also left as he was returning that night leaving Bonnie, Bruce and Lucie with the crazy kids all flying about.

For the most part, the flights were all fairly good and calculated.  There was some window ledging, glass bumping and tree roosting but by the afternoon they were all landing on the rooftop, nest ledge and hydro tower.  That evening the four fledglings were all fed in the tower and one by one they returned to the nest ledge to sleep.  One brave little fledgling, blue most likely, decided to spend the night in the tower and the whole family settled in to bed triumphant that they all figured out the wing thing.

Thanks once again to the most amazing crew of watchers.  Rob, Bonnie, Lucie, Bruce and Winston for all braving the heat and the madness that fledge watch always brings.  Your help today made this such a success.  You make it look so easy!!  I look forward to spending the day with the family tomorrow and seeing hopefully some of the great flights that I have missed up to now!  I can’t wait!!

William Osler Friday June 27th

June 27, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Mark arrived to start the morning shift and found he was having trouble locating everyone for the morning head count.  The adults were also out of view and so this painted a very frustrating picture.  Blue was flying back and forth from the tower to the roof and back so Mark had blue in his sights for sure.  As the morning really got going suddenly kids were starting to pop up.  Yellow from behind a sign.  White from the back of the ledge in the shade.  Red from beside a pillar.  They were all coming into view now and vocalizing for breakfast.  Lots of energy and exercise for the morning but still no fledge other than blue.

Bonnie arrived at noon for the midday watch and all was beginning to quiet down.  The chicks had all spent their energy up to this point and were content to flump down and seek the shade for a nap.  Blue did some great flights for Bonnie but for the most part, it was a snooze fest.

Lucie arrived at around 5pm and the chicks were now all waking up and getting more active.  It would seem that at William Osler, the highest activity level has always been in the evening and so Bonnie stayed with Lucie for a while and Winston arrived a little later on at around 6pm.  It was just after Winston’s arrival that little Yellow decided that someone had to make the next leap and it might as well be her.  She took off and flew over to the hydro tower and landed well enough.  While this might look like an easy flight the fledglings actually have to turn and back flap to land and the beams are not terribly wide.  Many a chick misses that landing the first time at it and therefore Lucie and Winston were glad to see that the down was as good as the up in this case.  Rob joined them as well and they watched as red and white continued to scream their discontent from the ledge while yellow and blue were now aerialists.  Yellow made another flight that evening that took her home to the nest ledge and she yacked about it all evening to her siblings.  By nightfall, all four chicks were again reunited on the ledge where they slept for the night together.

A big thank you to Mark, Bonnie, Lucie, Rob and Winston for taking care of the William Osler family today while I was off and away at a CPF event in Renfrew.  When I put out the call to everyone for help to cover the site the response was overwhelming and I can’t thank you all enough for your help.  Two out and two to go, tomorrow should be a blast!!

William Osler Watch Thurs June 26

June 26, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

This morning the weather was perfect in that much of the humidity was gone and there was a beautiful breeze at William Osler.  An absolutely wonderful day for flights.  The morning exercises were in full swing when I arrived and the two females were incredibly vocal and active.  This lasted until around 11am when all of the chicks found shade to lay down in and nap for several hours.  At just before 2pm, little blue was standing on the east ledge near the nest tray and began to flap.  He was facing the northeast corner and with lots of vigour he suddenly was off of the ledge, skirted the face of the nest ledge heading north and then backflapped back down onto the corner of the ledge.  Ok!  That was a sorta kinda maybe flight but not what I would consider a real fledge.  I sat back waiting to see if he had any other tricks up his sleeve.  He ran down and around to the north side of the hospital and next thing I know it, he’s in the air and headed for the tower!!  He maintained his altitude perfectly, didn’t panic and landed on the top of the tower like a pro.  Great job little blue!!  He howled and screamed as he attempted to run the girders towards Chessie who was sitting front and centre.  I’m sure he was hoping for a reward for his great flight but that was not coming any time soon.  Instead of food going up to the flyer, food went into the ledge!!  Well!!  He was furious and decided that he would then have to return home if he was to get in on any of the goods.  He took off from the tower and was going way too fast to break properly.  Instead of going straight into the ledge, he banked around to the south side of the hospital and threw himself onto the ledge.  He ran all the way back to the east side to join in on the feeding and was amply rewarded for his efforts.  Throughout the evening he made another half a dozen flights back and forth from the tower to the roof, from the roof to the tower and finally the tower to the ledge.  By late evening he was starting to get a little attitude going and he buzzed his brother with white tape on the southeast corner hoping for a playmate.  His plan didn’t work as white stayed put and so blue continued to make his own fun.

By the close of the watch, all four chicks were back on the ledge and sleeping together in one big pile on the southeast corner.  Tomorrow the watchers will have their hands full as the remaining three unfledged chicks are more than ready to go.

William Osler Fledge Watch Wed June 25th

June 25, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

While yesterday did not end in a fledge at the William Osler nest site, it sure was very active with lots of exercising and running of the ledge.  Today was no different in that the chicks were raucous the minute that I arrived and were calling to the adults for food.  The first feeding arrived at around 8am to a chorus of song and Chessie opted to beak feed even though the young ones were now being quite rough with her and jostling about for position. They each ate their fill but continued to vocalize and one calling would easily start up any others that had become quiet.  Even after Chessie left the ledge for some peace in the tower, the kids kept it up.  Hurricane was perched on the top of the antenna on the roof where he couldn’t be seen and it was there that he rested comfortably for the morning.  Playing and exercising were on the to do list for the morning and at one point, Big Red decided that she was going to take all of her energy and run flap the entire south ledge to the next “H” sign.  Her siblings followed suit and they were all off in a mad flap-dash down the ledge.  It was little blue though that decided he would cross that magical boundary beyond the southern sign towards the west corner and that finally moved Hurricane off of his perch.  He could hear the excited calls of his kids and I’m sure knew exactly where they were based on where the calls were coming from.  He flew the length of the south ledge and when he got to little blue he swooped and vocally chastised him which sent him back to the proper side of the sign.  Within 20 minutes they had all bounded back down to the southeast corner and flumped down for a good nap.  The significance of this activity is important to note as the young ones are exploring the ledge further, gaining confidence and building muscle.  This level of exploration is usually a precursor to a fledge and one of the signs that we look for.

The four chicks spent the afternoon as feather pancakes, flat out on the ledge sound asleep.  Every once in a while Hurricane and Chessie would drop in to the ledge for a head count and leave seconds later after waking them all up and getting them to their feet.  The day was very hot and humid and as mid afternoon approached more rain was on the way.  This was certainly much tamer than the day before but as it began to roll in the adults were pretty keen to get the kids rounded up and settled.  Chessie flew in to the southeast corner with a large pigeon and began the beak feeding frenzy.  It wasn’t two minutes into the feeding when Hurricane showed up with a Blackbird and the young ones didn’t know what to do.  Mom or Dad?  Who’s got the best goods?  Hurricane left the prey with Big Red who had now commandeered the entire piece that was not prepped as of yet.  She pulled on it a little but had never dealt with a meal not cleaned first. She fussed and played with it and then gave it up for some beak feeding with the rest of her siblings.  After the pigeon was all gone Chessie retrieved the Blackbird and continued the food fest.  The rains were now coming down quite heavily and the food was doing its job of keeping the young ones on the ledge today.  With very full crops the four chicks played and slept the evening through.  We are getting very close to our first fledge and it may be tomorrow is the day!

William Osler Fledge Watch Started Today!

June 24, 2014 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

After doing a site check yesterday and finding all four of these monkeys being incredibly vocal and active I decided that today was the day I would start the William Osler fledge watch.  The William Osler staff members are currently holding a name the chick contest that is not quite concluded so until they receive their official names, I will refer to them by their tape colours.

When I arrived I checked in with security, got the rescue carrier in place and headed outside.  Two of the chicks were on the southeast corner and two were on the northeast corner all lazing about.  Ok.  So maybe they aren’t as ready as I thought.  The two oldest reached 36 days of age today so they may not go anywhere just yet.  Well…  …while I may not have had a fledge as of yet I certainly had LOTS of action!!

The falcon choir began at 8am with all four chicks singing their little brains out at the top of their lungs.  Hurricane had just come in with breakfast and they were all looking to get their fill.  He tried to beak feed but it was just too frantic so he finally gave up the little piece that he had and the biggest female grabbed and ran with it.  After tripping over the food onto her face with as much grace as possible, she bolted down and around the southeast corner with her sister right behind her.  The two squabbled and fought over it for a few minutes and they each came away with a little chunk.  The boys were furious.  They continued to complain until Hurricane came in with a piece for them and began to beak feed the boys.  I watched as big sis peeked her head around the corner and seeing more food, ran as fast as she could to get in on it.  Her little brother with the white tape turned and howled right in her face as she came skidding to a stop but that didn’t stop her.  She quarterbacked her way into the feeding fray which gave Hurricane the moment he needed to get out of there taking the food with him.  Oh boy, that went over well.  The next two hours was spent flapping and screaming, running and screaming then bouncing and screaming all over the south, east and north ledges.  What really made this all so epic was that Hurricane continued to fly in, land and then leave just as the chicks reached him.  He did this constantly all morning in the hopes that he could entice a young one to fly with him.  Not yet.

By 11am they had all settled down for a nap and it looked like the afternoon lull was getting started.  As soon as the chicks were asleep, Hurricane once again flew in and woke them all up.  He was incredibly determined to get a flight out of someone.  By noon the entire family retired to rest with all four chicks sprawled all over the ledge, Chessie up on the roof antenna and Hurricane in the tower.  All was quiet until around 2pm when the family was once again on their feet.  Chessie brought in the first feeding and was instantly surrounded.  She’s a big girl and the chicks can’t easily push her around so she stood her ground while her four offspring pinned her to the back wall.  The only way out was to feed her way through the mass of screaming chicks and so feed she did.  It was like watching a little sowing machine going a mile a minute and the food was just a-flyin’.  There was a storm moving in and Hurricane was anxious to get the kids fed and settled so that they would stay put so he decided to help.  He came off of the tower and kited beautifully over the top of the hospital.  He changed position only a few times and then he saw it, his prize, waiting down below.

Out front of the nest ledge is a sign about 5 or 6 feet high and on it sat a dove.  Hurricane banked and dropped like a stone down to just above ground level and then made a swoop pass over the top of the sign.  He grabbed the dove and banked up hard skimming the face of the hospital all the way up to the ledge.  Stunning!!  This time it was one of the boys who benefitted from this incredible hunt.  After this Hurricane flew over to the tower with Chessie and they both watched as the sky darkened and the winds really picked up.  Chessie left the tower and landed on the northeast corner while Hurricane flew to the southeast.  The two adults had encapsulated the chicks on the ledge and they both began to walk them towards the nest tray for protection from the storm.  There the foursome sat and rode out what proved to be a fantastic storm and the chicks got their first really good soaking.

From that point forward, preening and sleeping was on the agenda and the family once again settled for a while.  As the 5 o’clock dinner bell was ringing, the female with red tape made her way down to the southeast corner with her brother in white tape and the two began to howl in unison at their parents.  They wanted food…   …NOW!!  Hurricane flew over and did two “touch and go’s” that had little big Red just furious.  She was so angry that food was not forthcoming that she threw a temper tantrum of epic proportions that ended with her grabbing the louvers at the back wall and trying to rip them off.  While that is certainly impossible she tried with all her might nonetheless.  The family of four youngsters continued the “singing” until around 7pm when the big feed came in.  Chessie arrived with a nice big pigeon and the four dined until they were stuffed silent…   …silent for the first time today it would seem!!  After eating, all four little spoiled brats flumped down on the southeast corner in one big pile for a great big sleep.  Not a bad way to end a busy day.

Tomorrow should be another great day of activity at the William Osler nest site as the watch really gets started.