William Osler. On Track But Off the Rails

April 17, 2016 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

I have been out at the William Osler site several times over the past week attempting to identify the resident adults that are currently incubating 4 eggs in the nest tray.  This has not been an easy task as there have been too many birds to try and identify!  My first check in was late in the afternoon on Friday April 8th.  I pulled into the parking lot and found one peregrine on the eastern H, one peregrine on the ledge, one peregrine in the air.  I didn’t hesitate.  I jumped out and grabbed my camera.  I photographed anything the moved in the hopes that I could later come to understand what I was seeing and who these peregrines were.  The interactions continued for almost 40 minutes with birds in and out and all over the place.  The male finally zipped back into the tray and resumed incubation while another bird landed on the nest ledge to the north of the tray.  I could clearly see the bright blue tape on his USFW.  Wait…   …what?  Male in tray and male on ledge?  Just then the second male (blue tape) made an approach to the nest tray that got him almost in behind the sign when WHAM, out comes the resident male and the two take off to the north.  Then the resident female returned to the tray to cover the eggs. Blue tape boy is bold as brass and wants this nest all to himself.  I was sure he wasn’t going to give up easily after challenging the incubating male like that.

When I got the photos home for a look I was running through my head the events that I witnessed.  The first time I saw the three birds together there wasn’t a whole lot of aggressive attacking, instead it was the resident female that simply escorted the bird out.  The photos were able to answer why an attack was not more intense; this was a juvenile from last year.  The bird is banded and may have red tape but not clear shot could be had.  This young female was directed out of the area by the resident female before I could get anything definitive.  I was able to photograph the resident females bands and it is Chessie, black 49 over green AD, hatched in 2011 at the Central Terminal nest site in New York.

The resident male remained more elusive and I wasn’t able to get a band read on that Friday.  Bruce went out on the Saturday April 9th in an attempt to get the ID of the male and witnessed a similar scenario to what I had seen.  The only exception was that the juvenile female did not come around.  The male with blue tape on his USFW band was back and this time continuing with his bold behavior by landing on the southern H sign and eating the resident adults stash of food.  The fact that he got away with this act made me believe that our Hurricane, resident male for the past decade, has not returned and/or successfully taken back his nest site.  This intrusion would never have been allowed to occur under his watch and yet here was this intruding male eating a meal that he swiped off of the resident pair.  Where was the resident male?  Why was he allowing this?

The following day, Sunday April 10th, both Bruce and I attended the site in the hopes of an ID on the male.  Things were much more quiet this time and with little action, it made the task difficult.  We had a changeover that allowed us to get a clear view of the males bands and he is Casper, solid black 35 over Y, hatched in 2009 at a private residential site in Etobicoke.

Casper has been the resident male at the Viscount Road territory with his mate Claire from Michigan for the past 4 years producing young at a nest location we have struggled to discover.  Each season they begin nesting late and so we are busy with other sites by the time they are well hidden and incubating.  They are late nesting each year because Claire, like Hurricane, migrates for the winter and when she returns she finds her mate has slipped off to another location; William Osler.

So here’s how it works.  Claire leaves on migration from Viscount leaving Casper alone to deal with the winter influx of Red taileds and Snowy owls to the area on his own.  Hurricane migrates shortly after Claire has left, around late November, and that leaves Chessie on her own at William Osler.  Casper comes up from Viscount to Osler for the winter and hangs out with Chessie until Hurricane returns and kicks him out around the end of March.  Casper then goes back to Viscount, re-establishes his territory and waits for Claire who shows up around the first to second week of April.  It took us awhile to sort THAT out.  Phew.

The big change this year is that by April 10th Hurricane has still not been located and identified at the William Osler site leaving Casper in charge.  We have watched Casper leave the site and head southwest towards his old territory and a visit to the Viscount area revealed two adults courting around the bridge abutments of the 409 overpass.  So.  Is Casper trying to run two sites?  That would explain how little mister blue tape was able to get away with eating all the William Osler stashes for free.

While I did get a shot of the band off of the blue taped bird it is not a clear and complete read of the alpha numerics and so he remains a mystery at this time.  What I can tell you is that he is a solid black Ontario banded bird and the partial read has narrowed the possibilities.  I will hopefully have an ID on him soon for you.

I will be out for more observations this week.

William Osler Has Four Eggs

March 30, 2016 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

After MEC, I headed down to the William Osler site to check in after CPF received a report from Ross Bartlett of three eggs in the nest bowl.  When I arrived, the resident female was on her favorite corner on the southeast side of the ledge watching her mate in the nest tray incubating the eggs.  I left her there preening to hook up with Ross and security for access up to the mechanical room and the camera monitor.  When we arrived upstairs, the male was in the tray incubating and four gentleman who have been working inside the mechanical area for the past week said that the fourth egg was laid today completing the clutch.  According to these gents (sorry I didn’t get your names) the first egg arrived last week on Wed Mar 22nd.

What makes this all interesting is that I was on site last week on Friday attempting to identify both the resident adults and whether eggs were present yet.  Security was very busy that day so a trip upstairs was not great timing.  I opted instead for observations from the ground.  On Friday during the two hours I was there, neither adult was anywhere near the nest tray and while the female looked ready (puffy abdomen with a dose of egg lethargy in the afternoon sun) I wasn’t sure and made mental note to return.  So instead of focusing on the nest tray, they were instead focused on something out to the east.  This had the male very agitated and active and I suspect this is due to the return of Hurricane from migration.

Each winter for the past three years, Hurricane the resident male, has migrated for the winter.  After he leaves, Casper, the resident male of our Viscount territory just 5km away, comes and spends the winter with Chessie as his mate Claire also migrates.  When Hurricane returns, he drives young Casper back out to his territory and life for Chessie and Hurricane returns to status quo.  Add to that reports from Ross over the past two weeks of three falcons on site I believe that Hurricane is back and disruptions were ongoing right up to and including last Friday.

Who is the victor this year?  Don’t know yet.  What I can say for sure is that the male is banded with a solid black recovery band and silver USFW consistent with a Canadian born bird and the female is wearing a black over green recovery band and silver USFW consistent (but unverified) with Chessie.  I will be back this week to try and find out.

!!! Three eggs at William Osler!!! :-)

March 28, 2016 - Etobicoke - William Osler

CPF Postmaster Reports:

March 28th - 2016

We have received additional good news from Ross out at the William Osler hospital,, that his last check of the web cam monitor, that he had three eggs very visible in the nest tray!! While we can’t confirm the “who’s who” yet as far as who the resident adults actually are,, there is a resident pair for sure!!
We’ll have to wait for the results of a site visit a little later on in the week in an effort to start identifying the resident adults.
Stay tuned………..

William Osler Spot Check. All Four Juveniles Doing Great and Sven Puts on a Show!

July 21, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

I stopped in last night to check up on our Osler family and had all four juveniles on site.  Benny and Winston were on the eastern H and both had enormous crops.  Sven was roosting in the tower and Peggy was on the nest ledge napping.  After about 15 minutes on site, Sven decided he was bored and it was flight practice time.  He was encouraged to the air by a passing pigeon that he took a run at.  Not successful but a great effort.  He spent the next 30 minutes by himself on the west side stooping everything that moved and playing in the wind.  By the time the sun was beginning to set, all four youngsters were in the air and playing tag.  Sven is now as rough as Benny in his playing and gave his cocky brother a run for his money!  Twice Sven grabbed Benny by the tail which had Benny squealing like a baby to be let go of.  Sven also took on the “Peggy Tank” in flight play with her keeping up so well and being clearly the bigger of the two, she tried to take it easy on him.  Note I said TRIED.  Sven was certainly up to the challenge that Peggy presented and had fun being chased by her and trying to evade.  Winston was in the mix several times but was more content to digest the massive crop he now had than playing.

By the end of the evening, all four juveniles were playing, soaring, stooping and practicing their finesse in the air.  Such a wonderful sight.

Winston Found and Looking For Help From a Friend

July 21, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Late last week I stopped in at the William Osler nest site to see if I could locate Winston as he was the only juvenile I had yet to set eyes on.  When I arrived, I had Chessie on the north side.  She quickly took off and was flying circles around the east emergency area of the hospital.  When she came around into full view, I could hear a juvenile screaming for Mommy but I couldn’t see it.  The strange part about it was that I could hear the call echoing down low.  I locked up the car and was about to follow the sound of the call when an ambulance attendant walked up to me and asked if I was the falcon lady.  He said that one of the young ones was down on the ground by the emergency entrance behaving oddly.  I looked over and saw little Winston on the ground and in the way of approaching ambulances.  I ran.  Fast.

When I got over to Winston and tried for a grab up he darted away and flew low up to a stump on the ground.  I went and tried again.  He evaded me a second time and flew up to a picnic table.  He was more than capable of flying but was not getting any height and making no real distance flights.  The third attempt was a success and having him in my hands I could see that he was a little on the thin side and needing some hydration.  He had also worn down the center talon on each foot so that the tip was smooth and rounded like they had been rubbed down.  Ok.  You’ve been stuck somewhere and just got yourself out and home.  I packed him up, thanked everyone for their help and took him up to the CPF Raptor Centre as it was too late in the day to take him anywhere else and I needed to assess him thoroughly.  I contacted the appropriate folks and told them that I had Winston for a brief hold over to assess whether there was any problem that required further attention or if he was just out of juice.

Back at the Centre, I put Winston in one of our pens and could see that he was really out of jazz.  Tired.  Mild dehydration (skin turgor test).  A little thin.  He struggled to fly from the floor to a perch but not due to any injury.  He had perfect symmetry, no drooping, a perfect keel and was bright, alert and responsive.  So I rehydrated him, fed him and let him have a good nights sleep.  By the next morning he was up on the highest perch and wanting to go home.  I made arrangements with everyone to set up a release time as there was no injury to Winston, only a little out of gas, and he was clearly good to go.  Bruce and I met up at William Osler.  He set up in the east parking lot and I took little man to the roof.  I called Bruce and gave him the 60 second warning; he was going out the door!  One last check and a squirt of water and he was unceremoniously returned to the care of his family.

Back on the ground it wasn’t more than a few minutes when Bruce had a bird come off of the roof, circle and land on the eastern H sign.  A little male juvenile sat on that sign and just howled for the parents attention!  Both Chessie and Hurricane were sitting in the east tower roosting and not really responding to this tantrum of sorts.  The juvenile didn’t stay long and took another flight around to the north side landing neatly on the nest ledge level where he found a pigeon.  Bruce confirmed through scope view that this was in fact Winston and he was now gorging on the pigeon leftovers that he had found.  After packing it all in, Winston took a break on the ledge and that was when Sven arrived; the first sibling to witness Winston’s return.  He flew circles around the hospital watching this juvenile.  It was like he recognized him but couldn’t place where he knew him from.  Sven then flew over to the hydro tower to tell Mom and Dad what he had found.  Benny and Peggy were now making their way home and Winston continued to vocalize to his family.  Chessie, Hurricane, Peggy, Sven and Benny were now all in the hydro tower together and Winston could not wait a minute more.  He took a brilliant flight over to the tower landing perfectly beside Sven who was playing it cool.  We now had all 6 falcons in the tower together.  The two boys were about 8 feet apart and Winston slowly over the next half hour inched closer and closer to Sven.  When they were about a foot apart, Winston flipped his head in play at Sven and after about a minute of considering what to do about this, Sven returned the gesture and the boys beak tapped.

Well!!!!  That was all it took!  One little beak tap showing acceptance set off a rip roaring evening of play.  The next two hours leading right up to dusk was full of play time with all four juveniles now performing aerial mock attacks with each other, roosting together and celebrating the return of Winston.  Chessie and Hurricane brought in food for all four of the kids and as we were leaving with very little light left in the sky, they were all still playing wildly around the hospital.  Winston was back with his family and filled to the brim with food.  Bruce and I can’t say enough how happy we are that Winston was found and is home safe and sound.


Monday at William Osler

July 14, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

I didn’t get there as early as I had intended so my hopes of seeing much I knew was pretty slim.  Even so, when I arrived I found Hurricane exactly where I expect to see him on a hot and muggy morning, asleep in the nest tray.  Chessie was not on site and after checking around the building the only two kids I could see were Sven and Peggy.  Both of them did short flights around the hospital and a few jaunts to the tower and back but they were happy to sleep away the afternoon on the north side in the shade.  I will continue to check back in when I can later this week.

Spot Check at William Osler

July 13, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Yesterday Bruce and I went out in the early morning cool to check in on the family at William Osler.  We found Chessie in the tower with Hurricane and Chessie was quietly kakking.  Benny was in the front of the tower and no other kids were in sight.  Chessie continued to vocalize and in our scan of the area, we found Sven in the tower to the north.  That’s two!  Bruce did a walk of the perimeter and found a third bird on the northwest corner that turned out to be Peggy.  Excellent.  Still no sign of Winston.

Chessie took off from the tower and went very low over to the medical centre roof.  There she sat kakking and this had us a little worried.  Bruce went up to the 10th floor and scanned the rooftop of the building to make sure that no one was up there and cleared the majority of it; nothing in sight.  I stayed on the ground and watched Chessie.  She was watching something behind her.  Just before Bruce came back out Chessie turned around and walked into the center of the roof out of view and came back…   …with a pigeon!  Ok, so that’s what has your interest.  She ate what was left and then took off back up to the tower for a roost.  Just to be safe I went up to the Med Centre roof and cleared the blind spot that Bruce couldn’t see and all was well as the heat was coming on.

Benny and Sven did most of the flying this morning.  Peggy was sleeping on the northwest corner and Winston still did not make an appearance.  With the boys flying so well and the temperatures so hot, there is a chance that after a morning feed he was napping away somewhere out of our view.  Hurricane took off of the tower and flew down to the Med Centre roof and stayed there for a while looking for scraps and lining up the sparrows in the neighboring tree.  He eventually took off to the north tower after Benny decided to stoop him on the low roof.  As we were leaving Benny, Sven and Peggy were all on the north side of the hospital enjoying the recent delivery of a pigeon brought in by Chessie.  Benny was eating it for the most part as Sven watched and Peggy slept.  Then Benny did something that I have never seen a two month old male do.  He took off with the pigeon and attempted to fly around the hospital with it…   …and succeeded!!  A bird almost as big as himself.  Heavy and cumbersome.  What an ambitious little man!  He flew around the west side and we could see he was losing altitude.  He continued around to the east and headed for the Med Centre roof which is where we believe he dumped his package.  So that’s how the pigeons are getting up there!

As we left there was still no sign of Winston.  I will be back today to check in on the family and hopefully Winston was just enjoying some independence or taking a nap during our time yesterday.

Ohs and Ahs at William Osler! Full Time Watch is Complete!!

June 30, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

The weather was ideal and so was the activity at William Osler today. Bruce opened the watch with a stunning flight by Peggy and the boys all the way to the north tower. She’s only been flying 24 hours and off campus already?!  Wow!!  Bruce watched her take several more flights and all were good and strong. It’s those landings she needs to practice.

I took over for Bruce late morning and all I can say is wow. The flights by all four young ones were strong, calculated and just didn’t stop all morning. Second breakfast arrived around 10am with both adults returning with a little something. Hurricane came home first with a starling which he swiped off a treetop nearby. He was pursued to the nest ledge by Benny who took it all for himself. Chessie then arrived with a big pigeon, an arrival I didn’t see but I did see the result. From my position in the emerg parking lot I could see Chessie sitting on a light post near the northeast corner. I grabbed my camera and off I went. As I approached I got that sick feeling in the pit of my bones. Chessie being this low could mean serious trouble. Benny was getting rougher every day. What if someone was down?  When I got to her I looked around quickly and a gentleman pointed down and said,”I think this is what you’re looking for.”  On the ground right in front of the door to the main entrance was a pigeon that had clearly been knocked out of Chessie’s grasp by an exuberant child. She clearly wanted it back. So. I gave it back. I picked up the pigeon and moved it over to a nearby patch of grass that was much safer for her to come down to. And so she did!  Food retrieved and kids fed.

The rest of the day was filled with games of tag, high soaring flights and naps. Peggy and Winston never left each other’s side all day. Sven and Benny continued to taunt each other during their rough and tumble games. Winston the watcher joined me for the evening flights and it is very evident that this watch can now be scaled back to spot checks.

This has been a fantastic watch and it is thanks to all who supported this family. First and foremost the William Osler Hospital staff with special thanks to Ross Bartlett. The Paladin security team. The amazing guys from Pacific Paving. Most importantly I wish to thank Bruce and Winston for their help in making this watch a success. I will be posting highlight photos of this years watch very soon and continue to check back for spot check updates.

Rainy Day Sunday at William Osler

June 30, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

Well the good news is that Peggy has fledged. Ya!!  The not so great news is that her first flight ended up with a tree top view of the nest ledge. She took flight sometime just after dawn and when I arrived at 6:30am she was sitting in a tree full of robins near to the emergency entrance. Her placement in the tree was quite good as she had no branches in her way to contend with. She sat in the tree begging for the parents to look after her but it wasn’t meant to be. The parents will not feed their young in inappropriate locations such as trees so she was just going to have to fly somewhere else that is parent approved. She was getting rained on this morning which was not helping at all. When the rain would stop she would preen and dry off. Then just as she was ready to go…   …more rain. More wet Peggy. The boys were flying around during the rain breaks and each hour or so one, Winston, would do a low pass past Peggy trying to encourage her out of the tree to no avail. After staring at the same tree for about 5 hours, I took advantage of a break in the rain and a sleeping Peggy to try and get some photos. As I was taking some shots of her 40 feet up in this tree a bird comes whipping really low past me. Good gravy its Hurricane. He skimmed the top of the emergency entrance overhang, using it to cover his approach, and came right at me. I started to head back to my car to put away my camera as the last thing I wanted to do was upset the family when - whoosh - another low pass…  …by WINSTON. He was following and imitating Hurricane in defence if his sister!  He came out of nowhere and wasn’t nearly as close but his efforts were quiet valiant. Hurricane made another low pass at me after which he retreated to the tower to watch me. A media blackout on Peggy had been imposed by Hurricane and I was to obey. I did as he asked and went back to watching Peggy sleep.

The afternoon into early evening had periods during which the rain actually let up. This was time for the boys to get out and play!!  It started around 1pm with Sven and Winston but there was no sign of Benny. I wasn’t worried as I figured he might be over on the north side out of my view. Nope. As I scanned the towers for adults I was looking south and here came Benny!!  He was WAY off campus down by Islington and Rexdale where Chessie hunts the local flocks. The minute he returned he sought out Sven for a tussle. Man in Benny rough. He was grabbing Sven by the wings and tail causing him to have an aerial tumble then recovery. Good life lesson but tone it down already.

It wasn’t until late in the evening that Peggy went for that next flight. She lumbered out of that tree and headed for the tower. The landing was rough but she stuck it and wailed her excitement to the world. With her ultimate goal now in sight, home, she launched herself for one more great effort. Then something happened that I have never seen before. Peggy was met in the air by her brother Winston. He flew with her and guided her towards the building rooftop!  That’s an adult job!  She came in too low and circled a second time, this time managing to grab the wall just one foot below the roofline. She did “the bat” for a good minute or more with Winston on the roof right above her vocalizing encouragement. Not to be easily defeated (she is a Hurricane child) she flapped and WALKED the last foot up to the top of the roof!!  Well. Now it was party time. All three boys went over and joined in the celebration of Peggy’s return. I left the family to their reunion as the sun was going down with the hope of great flights tomorrow.

Sunday Morning News Flash from William Osler

June 28, 2015 - Etobicoke - William Osler

Tracy Simpson Reports:

She did it!!  Peggy has fledged. She took her first flight shortly before u arrived at 6:30am and is currently making new friends with the robins in a tree top next to the emergency entrance. Full story to come!!