Peregrine falcon chick at Hopewell Rocks takes flight
Park staff member says the other chick died after falling from clifftop nest
A family of peregrine falcons is experiencing tragedy and triumph at the Hopewell Rocks this summer.
One of the two chicks hatched in June has died, while the other has finally taken flight.
"The two came running for the food, one bumped the other one and it fell from the cliff. It was accidental," said Kevin Snair, an interpretive guide at the park.
Snair has tracked each of the bird's milestones, starting with the parents choosing the very public nesting spot near the Big Cove viewing station at the park.
Losing one of the chicks 10 days after hatching was sad, he said.
"But if there's a positive side to it, the positive side is now that there is only one young one left it would get all the food, all the attention and gave it a much better chance of survival," he said.
Staff were concerned about the second chick for awhile, said Snair. Peregrines usually fly 42 to 46 days after hatching, he said.
"As we got into the 50, 51, 52 days, we were starting to have theories as to why maybe it wasn't flying," he said.
But early Sunday morning, Snair finally got the call from staff that the bird flew the nest.
"We were very relieved," he said.
People have been flocking to the park to see the young peregrine, said Snair.
"There's plenty of situations where there's peregrine falcons in cities and stuff like that where you can see them, but to have them in a natural environment like this, and a very easily viewable area, it's a very unique situation," he said.
"So we had people from all over coming to photograph them."
The next milestone for the bird is learning to hunt, said Snair.
Peregrine falcons are formidable hunters that prey on other birds and bats in mid-flight, according to the National Geographic website.
Peregrines hunt from above and, after locating their prey, drop into a steep, swift dive that can exceed 320 kilometres per hour, it states.
He expects the falcon could then fly the nest for good, heading south in the fall.
Peregrine falcons were virtually eradicated from eastern North American by pesticide poisoning during the mid-20th century.
But the population has rebounded since the use of DDT and other chemical pesticides was curtailed and they are regularly seen in many large cities and coastal areas.