Close

Falcons at the downtown Sheraton 0:30

There may be better ways to pass the time on a sunny afternoon than standing perched on a hotel roof while falcons dive bomb your head.

But that's just what one fearless mountain climber did at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Hamilton on Thursday.

He was there to help band three peregrine falcon chicks that live in a nest on top of the hotel.

Anne Yagi of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources said she thinks because the building is so tall and has "the perfect ledge," it acts just like a natural cliff site.

Hotel general manager Peter Tosh has a different idea.

"It's got to be the Sheraton logo, it's shaped just like a nest, right?" he laughs.

This is the 18th year they've been checking in on falcon nests at the hotel.

Right now the species is considered threatened in Ontario.

"If the population keeps doing well, then eventually they'll get off this endangered species list," Yagi said. "But I don't think that's going to happen soon."

The ministry, in partnership with the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project, puts these bands on chicks so they can keep track of the growth of the species.

This way they'll know how many chicks live in each nest, where they end up, and if they survive.

The community peregrine project exists to protect the birds in urban centres, said Ria McGraw, co-lead monitor for the project.

"In the wild, their parents would keep them safe — but they can't protect them from a car," she said.

"More and more chicks are nesting in urban areas now, because it's what they know. To them, a cliff is a hotel building."

McGraw winced as she watched the mountain climber shield his face from the screeching mother bird, Madame X.

"She does not approve of this," she laughed.

"She still thinks there's a predator in her nest trying to rob her babies."

"When they get back she'll calm down, but for right now, both parents are flying around screaming."

Three birds were successfully tagged and brought back to their nest. All three are boys - Beckett, Felker and Tiff - who is named after Tiffany falls.

Though really, it seemed a lot of the amassed crowd was hoping for a girl.

Maybe next year.