Meet Laura and Brock the latest generation of peregrine falcons born to mating pair Surge and Madame X to call the side of the Sheraton Hotel home.
In what has become an annual ritual at the hotel, scientists banded and two peregrine falcon chicks nesting at the hotel in in downtown Hamilton on Tuesday afternoon.
Peregrine falcons are considered a species at risk in Ontario, and the two chicks, born about 25 days ago on the ledge of the hotel's seventeenth floor, and the banding allow them to be monitored so that scientists can follow their movements and location.
The birds, though endangered, are categorized as a species under 'special concern,' which is the lowest designation under the Endangered Species Act. They have been monitored in Hamilton since 1995.
"They're almost recovered…so what we do is monitor them to see how well they do over the next little bit," said Anne Yagi, a biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
While the chicks' mother , Madame X, was away, researchers from the ministry rapelled from the roof down the side of the building, and placed the chicks into a suitcase-sized cage. The cage was then hoisted back up to the roof, and brought inside the hotel where the birds were tagged- and named.
The first chick, the larger and feistier of the two, was named Laura, after the War of 1812 heroine, Laura Secord. The second chick was given the name Brock, in honour of General Isaac Brock of the same war.
"We like to name them after local historical figures," said a volunteer working with the ministry.
After being banded, the chicks were once again placed inside the cage, and then lowered back to the seventeenth floor ledge, much to the relief of the chicks' mother, which was swooping back and forth above the nesting spot.
It's understandable that the falcons stay at the Hamilton Sheraton, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Peregrine falcons, which are primarily found in northwestern Ontario, sometimes settle in urban areas because the tall buildings, with the high winds and sunny nesting spots, remind them of natural cliff sites. Additionally, living in the city gives falcons easy access to an important food source.
"Falcons feed on birds. They're a top predator in the food web, and cities have a lot of pigeons," said Yagi.
Their penchant for gorging on pigeons aside, Sheraton employee Andriana Gulapa was smitten with the pair of furry chicks.
"I've been watching them since I started here a couple weeks ago, so seeing them hatch and seeing them grow is amazing. And seeing them here in person…they're just bigger and cuter than when you see them on TV. The only word I can think of is amazing."