Edmonton rail yard becomes roost for rare falcons
Birds of prey, rarely seen in Alberta, have become a regular fixture in a local rail yard
Birders from across Alberta are flocking to an Edmonton grain terminal to catch a glimpse of an Arctic bird of prey, rarely seen in the province.
The gyrfalcon, the largest of the falcon family, has a circumpolar range and visits Alberta only as a rare wanderer during the winter months.
However, a cast of the elusive raptors has take up residence in the area around the train yards near the junction of the Yellowhead Trail and St. Albert Trail.
"This place is such a unique spot, you're just not going to see this everywhere. I don't know if there is anywhere in North America you can see this," said Don Delaney, an Edmonton birder who visits the rail yard every day to watch the birds feast on pigeons.
Video producer Sam Martin visited the rail yard with chase producer Ariel Fournier to catch sight of the rare birds. Click on the video above to learn more.
"This grain elevator attracts the pigeons, and for some reason these gyrfalcons have learned that they don't need to migrate any further south, they've got a good food source right here," said Delaney.
Delaney says it's extremely rare to see gyrfalcons roost in an urban setting, and their hunting practices are breathtaking.
"The gyrfalcon will often fly right through the flock and do a sudden flair, and some of the pigeons will virtually run into her. She just flies right through all the chaos. She'll do a quick turn and bang she's got one. It happens in a heartbeat."
Jim Lange, who lives near the rail yard, discovered the falcon's hunting spot a few years ago and started documenting the birds.
"Once I started birding, I took a liking to birds of prey, and then a gyrfalcon just happened to show up in my backyard," said Lange.
The rail yard has become a 'bucket list' attraction for bird watchers in the know, he said.
"Birders have come here from all over the province, because they've heard about this opportunity, and they want to cross it off their list."