Peregrine Observations


by Elli Jilek and Jean Moore



2006 Observations                    by Elli Jilek and Jean Moore

The first peregrine sighting at the University of Calgary was April 4, on the rooftop (west side) of Social Sciences.

April 20. Pat Young, a wildlife biologist with the division of  Fish and Wildlife, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, checked the ledge to make sure all was well, as 2 adult falcons were observed near the Craigie Hall nest ledge. Some observations were made of copulation around April 21.

April 24. Elli Jilek saw an adult (believed to be the female) at the nest site.

May 1. More constant activity around the nest, with many visits by the adults. A very good sign that eggs would be laid this year.

May 6. Pat checked the nest and confirmed 3 eggs in the scrape. The female band revealed that this peregrine was banded at Balzac as a chick in 2003, therefore making her a mature, and hopefully, fertile, female. The male, who was in the vicinity, was not able to be identified.

June 5. Pat checked the nest again, and discovered that we now had 4 eggs incubating. During this inspection, a dead adult peregrine was found on the ledge, partially decomposed, and at a stage where it may have been dead for several days. It is assumed that this dead falcon was an 'intruder' that was attacked by one of the resident adults defending the eggs/nest. Date of hatching is expected to be about the 9th or 10th of June. The bands of both the attending male falcon, and the dead one (also a male), were sent to the main registry in Ontario, pending identification.

June 9. Elli reports that 2 of the eggs hatched, which is excellent news, since the last 2 years have not produced any eggs or young.

June 11. Confirmation of 2 live chicks by Rich, our 'resident' falconer, who has helped out in the past with any falcon 'problems'.

June 12. Campus Security, which has cameras that can be positioned onto the nest, observed 3 chicks in the scrape. The status of the 4th egg is unknown.

June 13. Pat checked the nest, and found 3 healthy chicks, with the female watching over them, and the 4th egg remaining intact (perhaps infertile).

June 23. The infertile egg was removed. The 3 chicks appear to be very active and in great shape.

June 30. John Campbell, Rich, and Elli banded the 3 chicks, 2 males and 1 female. Amanda, a Security officer, also attended and was given one of the chicks to hold. They were about 21 days old when the banding, which went smoothly, took place.

July 19. The first 'accident' involving one of the male fledglings. He made his way to the Swann Mall walkway, where he caused quite a scene for the passersby. Security watched over the bird until he decided to fly to a more practical spot from which to practice his flying abilities. It was a 'he', as Rich had been able to read the band later on. This bird may have been one of the fledglings that Jean and her granddaughter, Jessica, had then also seen on the roof of the Arts Parkade. This had been after they had spotted 2 of the fledglings still sitting on the nest ledge earlier.

July 22. Jean checked the ledge in the evening, and had discovered that all 3 fledglings had 'flown the coop'.

Aug.4. The female fledgling was found by a passerby in the parking lot on the east side of the Administration bldg. Security stayed with the bird until Elli arrived, and after some effort, she managed to catch her and ask for additional help from Rich, to determine if she was able to be released, since she appeared to be slightly hurt. The area above her beak appeared to be bloody, and she may have suffered a concussion by flying into a bldg, a window, or even been attacked by crows, which were observed nearby. Elli kept her in a quiet, dark box for the afternoon, then the peregrine was let go with the help of Rich on a small hill near the library building. She was not able to gather height, and appeared to still be weak. She landed on a nearby tree branch, and it was decided this was a safe place for her for the moment.

Aug. 5. Elli was called by Security that the bird was on a walkway a small distance away from where she had been left the night before. This meant that she was not able to fly 'upwards' to safety, so, with help of several people, including Jean Moore, and a couple of Security officers, Elli managed to catch her once again. She was taken up on a nearby low roof, and released. She was soon seen by an adult (appeared to be the female) and then started to call quite frantically towards the adult. This was probably because she was hungry by then. They were left alone.

Aug. 6. The female fledgling had been observed by Security cameras to have 'jumped' from the roof, but not been seen anywhere, so an intensive search was made with several 'helpers' looking in bushes, on rooftops, around buildings, and listening for any calls. Finally, after more than an hour, an adult falcon was seen by the youngster, and she started calling, thus enabling Jean to track her whereabouts. She was on a low roof of the link between the Administration bldg. and the Sciences bldg. We all congregated there and watched her behaviour for a while. She did not appear capable of flying upwards, so it was decided to come back later and bring her food should the parent not do so. Later that evening, she was found on ground-level close by, and after trying to catch her, she took off, but again, at low-level. She disappeared, and despite looking for her for several hours, she stayed hidden until darkness fell.

Aug. 7. Rich found her early in the morning, in the area previously searched, so she may have spent the night in bushes. She was in good condition, and Rich finally caught her with Elli being there to assist in the capture. She had been given some prey and was very hungry and able to get about, yet was still unable to fly to a higher level. She was taken into the care of Rich, who will be advised as to the next steps. Fish and Wildlife and provincial experts in this field are working with us in assessing the future of 'Lucy' (as she has been named). There are no 'obvious' injuries, and so only a guess can be made as to the problem she is having.

Lucy is eating, looks very good physically (her wings are intact and uninjured), and she is feisty in her attitude. Further updates will be posted as they occur.

The other 2 fledgling are doing very well, and are no longer seen as often on campus. There is also usually an adult nearby. Since the young will probably leave for their migratory flight in a few weeks, they may occasionally still be seen chasing and catching prey in the area of the campus and neighbourhoods bordering the university.

For your perusal, there are additional pictures of this year's young and the various activities around the problems associated with 'Lucy'.







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2006 Observations

2005 Observations

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