Hamilton could soon have some new feathered residents. Peregrine falcons Surge and Madame X appear to be expecting.
The pair of peregrine falcons nest in special boxes on a ledge near the top of Hamilton’s Sheraton Hotel. A group called Hamilton Falconwatch keeps an eye on the birds, which are listed as a species of special concern in Canada.
With a crop of new chicks imminent, the group has switched on two live cameras it has trained on Surge and Madame X.
Webcam refreshes picture about every 10 seconds
Mike Street, a volunteer with Hamilton Falconwatch, says eggs are expected by the end of the month. The youngsters should hatch about five weeks later.
"It’s almost always mother’s day," said Street.
In past years, the first egg atop the Sheraton has appeared as early as March 26, and as late as April 6.
Surge and Madame X hatched three male chicks last year, in keeping with the usual peregrine brood of three to four young.
By early June, the young birds start to experiment with flight, and that’s when things get busy for birdwatchers in the city, Street said.
"Imagine yourself as a baby peregrine and you fall out of the nest 180 feet to the ground," he said. "If they come to the ground, then they really can’t help themselves."
For about three weeks in June, volunteers will hold a dawn-to-dusk vigil to rescue any chicks that flutter down from the nest and can’t fly back up. Over the years, some 22 birds have been saved, Street said.
"We have never lost one on a rescue," he said.
Peregrine falcons all but disappeared in much of their Canadian range after heavy use of DDT in 1950s. The population started to rebound after the toxic chemical was banned in the 1970s.