Peregrine Observations 2003
by Elli Jilek, Jean Moore and Eric Tull
- April 8 - a Peregrine Falcon was present on the Library Tower
- April 19 - two Peregrine Falcons are present and interacting on the nest ledge on Craigie Hall
- April 28 - no eggs in the nest
- May 4 - 2 eggs in the nest (info from Pat Young, Alberta Environment)
- the male is the same male as last year (red band on right leg)
- May 11 - 4 eggs in the nest (info from Pat Young)
- June 9 - 1 young in nest, apparently hatched today - the other 3 eggs have vanished from causes unknown (info from Pat Young)
- July 4 - the single young, a male, was banded today - he is doing well
- July 21 - the young bird left the nest ledge, flying over to a point halfway up the Library Tower
- Sept. 1 - the young bird has done well, and is still on campus chasing and being fed by at least one adult bird
- Sept. 27 - this was the last sighting of a Peregrine on campus
- April 24 - a Peregrine Falcon was present at the Craigie Hall nest ledge
- April 26 - two Peregrines were present and mating was observed
- May 11 - the female has begun brooding the three eggs in the nest
- - the nest is in the SW corner of the ledge and can be seen with binoculars from the SW corner of MacKimmie Library Tower
- - the male is the same male as last year
- June 15 - hatching has begun
- - four eggs were laid this year
- June 22 - there are four young in the nest - tiny balls of fluff that can barely hold up their heads - the female is a different bird from the female of last year, but it has not been possible to read her band number as yet
- July 6 - the young birds were banded - there is one young female and three young males - the chicks are now moving around on the ledge - two photos from the banding
- a female fledgling from the 1997 nest has been found nesting this year in the Red Deer area - she successfully raised one young during what would have been her first nesting attempt
- July 21 - the four young are quite large and scruffy looking - they often sit near the front edge of the nest ledge - they are probably within a week or so of flying
- July 27 - the first young Peregrine (a male) had flown off the nest ledge before 8 am - the second young had flown off by 6 pm - both are doing well
- July 28 - all four young Peregrines had flown off the nest ledge by 11 am with no mishaps
- August 27 - at least three of the young Peregrines are still around the campus
- September 15 - the young female was picked up very sick just south of the campus - she was taken to the Calgary Zoo Animal Care Facility with a parasitic infection
- September 30 - the last sighting of a young bird around the Library tower was early to mid-September; the last sighting of an adult was September 29
- October 4 - the sick female has made a remarkable recovery, but still needs some care before she cab be released - it is not known yet whether she can be released this fall or whether she will be held over the winter for release next spring
Several sightings of a Peregrine on or near campus date from mid-March, but the bird did
not take up residence on campus.
- April 14.
On April 13 a Peregrine perched for some time, and on April 14
two Peregrines were observed on campus, with one bird visiting the nest ledge on Craigie Hall.
- April 23. Pat Young of Alberta Fish and Wildlife report that the male that nested here last year was killed on April 14 in a
collision with an aircraft at the Calgary International Airport. At present I have been seeing only one Peregrine on campus.
I hope that the bird will be able to attract a mate.
- April 28. Two Peregrines were observed interacting on campus. We hope that they will form a pair
- April 30. Jean Moore observed the Peregrines copulating on the top of the Library tower.
- May 6. Pat Young checked the nest ledge. Both birds are banded. The male nested last year in south Calgary. That nest is inactive this year. When the female did not show up this year, the male evidently moved here after the death of the male that nested here last year. The female was hacked in 1996 from a site near Red Deer. So both birds are different from the birds that nested here last year. The female has moved the nest scrape to the back right corner of the nest ledge on Craigie Hall, and she can be seen incubating from the upper storeys of the Library Tower. There was one egg on May 6.
- May 16. The Peregrines were copulating on the top of the Library tower. This seems late as I would have expected them to have a full clutch by now.
- May 21.Pat Young of Alberta Fish and Wildlife checked the nest today.
There are three eggs in the nest. Pat introduced a dummy egg
into the nest, just in case they want to foster a young bird into
the nest. This is quite unlikely, but the nest ledge is a good
site for fostering a young bird, and they do not want to rule out
that possibility - hence the artificial egg.
The female is a feisty bird. She remained on the ledge while Pat
had his head and arm out through the hole at the back of the
ledge, and he had to be careful she did not attack his hand when
he introduced the artificial egg.
The male is four years old and was raised at an artificial nest
site. The female, also raised at an artificial nest site, is two
years old, and this is presumably her first nesting. Both birds have red bands on the right leg and aluminum bands on the left leg.
- June 5. Pat Young phoned to tell me he estimates the young will hatch around June 11. Two eggs have already hatched at the downtown Calgary site. The campus female has been incubating every time I have looked. It is her first nest, and there can be problems the first time a female nests. But there is no sign of trouble at this point.
- June 14. Jean Moore observed two hatchlings on the ledge after the female took a break from incubating the eggs. Jean had checked the ledge the day before, but the female at that time was still busy turning the eggs and no chicks were apparent, so they probably hatched sometime between noon on June 13 and 5:30 pm today.
- June 15. Pat Young, Elli Jilek and a member of the University security staff went up to the nest ledge and confirmed that two of the eggs have hatched. That leaves, in addition to the two hatchlings, one egg laid by the female plus the dummy egg on the scrape. The female never left the ledge during the inspection, and as Elli said was 'magnificent-looking as she spread her wings and looked mean. She didn't make the kind of verbal commotion others have in the past'. The male was right around the corner on Craigie Hall, but didn't come around to see what was happening.
Pat says that there is still a good chance that the third egg will hatch as it may have been laid as many as six days after the first. He will recheck the ledge later this week or the first of next to check on the hatchlings and the third egg. He also said that, in addition to the two hatchlings at the University, there are four downtown and at least two at the Balzac nest.
Checked the peregrine diaries for 1997 and 1996 and found that the 1997 eggs hatched ca. June 10-12 and the 1996 eggs on June 19-20, so even though it seemed that the Peregrines got a bit of a late start this year because of the death of last year's male and his mate not making it back, the hatchlings arrived in good time.
- June 17. Great news! We now have all 3 eggs hatched - the third chick was probably 'born' yesterday - I thought I saw it this morning, but with the 3 of them huddled together, it was difficult to tell. Pat Young from Fish and Wildlife came and we were able to confirm 3 healthy chicks. Pat took away the dummy egg and also collected some leftover food bits, i.e., body parts of meals and some shell casings. These will be examined for pesticide residue and other info, such as what food they have been eating.
The chicks will be banded in about 3 weeks time - when they are strong and able to defend themselves against poor Pat. Although we had a broom to guard against the defending mom, she actually hopped on top of the broom as I held it against her and wasn't at all fazed by this. Dad was taking dives in front of the ledge, but it is too narrow for him to get a good run at Pat while he was on the ledge.
Family is intact now - hopefully they have all calmed down again. The 3 little guys (can't tell yet which sex they are) are all huddled together and the 2 older ones have their eyes open and are making squeaky noises. Elli Jilek
July 6. At about 9:30 am, Pat Young and Georgina Shumaker
from Alberta Wildlife
arrived to join Eric Tull, myself (elli Jilek), Ken Bendiktsen from the University Gazette, and 2 security guards to band the 3 peregrine chicks.
Due to the intense storm we had on Sunday, there was quite a bit
of moisture on the ledge, thus making a pretty ugly mess for the
wildlife officers (Pat and Georgina) who were going onto the
The corner where the chicks are usually situated was quite dry,
and mom was VERY protective of them as Pat handed the chicks one
by one through to Eric on the other side of the opening to the
ledge. They were placed in the box provided for this type of
thing, and each one was carefully weighed and measured by Pat and
Georgina. Meanwhile dad was frantically swooping at the ledge,
and mom was quite verbal and irate at all of us. Trying to fend
her off with a broom didn't seem to faze her or the male too
much. The 3 chicks, all males, were duly handled
It took about 1/2 hour or more to complete the banding, and
despite the ruccus, all chicks were placed in their corner and
eventually calmed down, as did mom when Pat and Georgina left the
Pat picked up some leftover meal parts to determine their
I was privileged to be able to hold and hand over 2 of the chicks
during the measuring/weighing, and for photo ops by Ken. The
chicks are so fluffy - very ball-like - and some dark flight
feathers are appearing underneath the white fluff. Their eyes are
big and dark, and the youngest one (first to be put in the corner
after weighing) had its chin on the ground and looked an awful
lot like Groucho Marx.
The parents flew around and in front of the ledge site for quite
a while after we had all left, and slowly things calmed down. One
of the youngsters ventured to the front of the ledge later that
afternoon - probably to get some much-needed sunshine and warmth.
Pat Young reports that all Calgary peregrine babies
are doing well, and that we have 11 healthy specimens at three nest sites.
on the other hand has had a very poor year - only 3 (4?) babies
have survived there. It seems the nest sites have not been
protected sites, and that the chicks have died of exposure.
All in all the morning was very dirty, smelly (guano, especially
wet, is powerful!!), but above all exciting and wonderful. To
hold an endangered species, and such lovely little things, is a
rare opportunity and a great privilege to be part of such an
- July 23. Two of our falcon chicks are now officially fledglings! Yes, 2 have made it off the ledge - not quite flyers per se, but able to get from one spot to another - so far without injury. The third chick is anxious to leave, as parents are egging it on verbally and swooping in front of the ledge to show how it's done - easier said than done! Elli
- July 24. It's done!! All 3 chicks are now fledglings! At about 3 pm this afternoon, Ray Powell saw the last of the chicks fly off, and I had just realized that it was missing after having watched carefully, as he was looking very eager.
I found him on the roof that connects Craigie Hall with the PFB, and he 'walked' over to one of the office windows, where he proceeded to peer inside. No one was home, and so he ventured off again, doing a few back-and-forth walks. He took off and landed somewhere close by on a roof. There is one fledgling on the roof of the University Theatre - he is in the shady part. The third juvenile is not to be seen. Eric Tull reckoned the first flight happening July 23rd - he was spot on. Elli
- July 25. 10 am. Arrived and saw 1 of the chicks on the SE corner of the Craigie Hall roof. One of the parents was on the LT. A friend and a colleague arrived and joined me in searching for the other chicks. We found one on the S side of Craigie Hall. Walking around looking for the third, we heard calling from the treed area to the W of Craigie Hall.
I finally found the 3rd fledgling quite low down on a large poplar branch. Unfortunately, he decided to choose a branch that was just too high for a step ladder. As I was phoning for a longer ladder, my colleague Molly Taylor came to tell me that the bird came down on his own. One of the campus security guards had already carried him up to the roof, where both parents were swooping down on the intruders. All family members were at that point intact and noisy. Elli
[When I was over Friday about 5 pm, one of the juveniles had to be rescued from the ground and placed on the roof, and library circulation staff told me that one of the young had had to be rescued and put back on the roof earlier in the day. Don't know if it was always the same bird - the one rescued on Friday had a lot of down still showing amongst its feathers. JM]
- July 26. 9:30 am. Saw 2 fledglings again, mostly around Craigie Hall roof area, but at times the juveniles did fly to other buildings. As I was leaving, one juvenile flew after a parent that was landing on the LT - 7th floor ledge area. It managed to land on the SW corner ledge on the 7th floor and seemed quite proud of itself. Elli
Was over several times on the weekend, but saw only 2 juveniles each time. However, this evening about 8:40 pm all 3 juveniles were on the roof of Earth Sciences, so all three must be flying well. One of the adults was on the LT roof and the second on the NE face of Social Sciences, where I had seen it in the evening both Friday and Saturday. JM
- August 20. The three young Peregrines are doing well. Many times it is difficult to find all three, but today at noon Elli Jilek saw all three sitting on or near the Library Tower. Two of the young birds seem to interact more closely, and on several occasions I have seen them sitting very close together. With the new adults this year, it seems to me that the birds are using different perches from those of previous years. For example, I have seen them less frequently this year on Social Sciences. But the young are quite noisy and usually let you know where they are. [ET]
- September 1. Three smaller (male) Peregrines were chasing a larger (female) bird, screaming loudly. I suspect it was the adult female being chased by the three young birds. In the course of the chase one bird hit a window, but apparently not very hard as it did not appear to have injured itself. By this time last year, most of the young had already left the campus.[ET]
- September 16. Although the young birds have not been seen since very early this month, the two adults are still seen regularly either by the nest ledge or on the Library Tower. It is as if they are guarding the nest ledge against other Peregrines that might be moving past the area.[ET]
- October 9. The Peregrines appear to have left the campus. The last sighting of a Peregrine was on October 5. The two adults were present near the nest site till around the end of September, and the last few days only one bird was evident. With this we are terminating the Peregrine web site for 1998.
The first definite sighting of the birds on campus was on April 18. On May 6,
there were two eggs in the nest. On June 2 the nest was found to have four eggs,
all of which were fertile. On June 17, there were four young in the nest that
were estimated to be 5-7 days old. The first young fledged on July 21, the other
three on July 23. The young gradually left during the second half of August. The
adults remained through much of September, with the male last being sighted on
The first confirmed sighting in 1996 was made on April 10, when an adult
female Peregrine Falcon was seen. The first observation of two Peregrines was on
April 25. The birds are nesting on the ledge on Craigie Hall where they nested
last year. Four eggs were laid; all were fertile and hatched on June 19-20. The
four young all proved to be males. They all fledged between July 30 and August
1. As of August 29, three young and two adults are roosting on campus and
spending considerable time here during the day. The last sighting of Peregrines
(2 adults) on campus was on September 20.
Two Peregrine Falcons were first seen on the University of Calgary campus at
the end of April, 1995. They chose a ledge on Craigie Hall as their nest site,
and laid two eggs. The first egg was laid on May 17th and the second egg was
laid on May 24. The eggs proved to be infertile.
Two foster young that had been hatched at the captive-breeding facility at
Wainwright, Alberta were introduced into the nest on June 17. The first chick
left the nest ledge on July 20 - the second on July 22.
The second young Peregrine to leave the nest was found with a badly broken
leg on July 29. She was taken to the Calgary Zoo, where surgery was performed to
put a pin in the leg. After a long convalescence she was placed in the care of a
local falconer, who has been training her to fly and to hunt. He is keeping her
over the winter for possible release next spring. The other Peregrines have all
left the campus.