Hamilton

Hamilton's baby peregrine falcons look 'strong, healthy and feisty'

Hamilton’s four baby peregrine falcons looked “strong, healthy and feisty” after they were banded on Friday, according to a senior monitor with Hamilton Falconwatch.

Wynnstay, Balfour, Auchmar, Dundurn are now banded and expected to try flying in mid-June

These two Hamilton peregrine falcon chicks are among four that were banded on Friday at the Sheraton hotel. (Hamilton Falconwatch/Facebook)

Hamilton's four baby peregrine falcons looked "strong, healthy and feisty" after they were banded on Friday, according to a senior monitor with Hamilton Falconwatch.

"We're anticipating a very active lot," Pat Baker said.

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation said online that it put bands on Wynnstay, Balfour, Auchmar and Dundurn on Friday in a ceremony on the 17th floor of the Sheraton hotel.

Roughly 20 people flocked to the building to take in the event.

Falconwatch volunteer John Miller climbed to get the chicks from their nest while their mom, McKeever, flew around nearby, seemingly upset. Her eggs hatched earlier this month at the hotel she calls home.

Wynnstay and Auchmar are both believed to be females, while Balfour and Dundurn are thought to be males, given that female falcons are generally heavier. (Hamilton Falconwatch/Facebook)

All of them screeched as staff applied the two bands that help identify a falcon's weight, age, where they were born, when they were banded and their parents.

"The joke is there is more information attached to this band number than is attached to your and my social insurance numbers," the foundation's founder, Mark Nash, said Friday during the banding ceremony.

When the chicks got too noisy, staff members spritzed some water — or as Nash joked, vodka — into their mouths.

Baker added they took blood samples from the chicks to determine how air pollution may have impacted them. The results aren't in yet.

Baker said the chicks will likely try to fly for the first time in mid-June, when they're roughly 40 days old.

Volunteer John Miller got the four falcon chicks from their nest on Friday as their mother, McKeever, watched in the background. (Hamilton Falconwatch/Facebook)

Wynnstay and Auchmar are both believed to be females, while Balfour and Dundurn are thought to be males, given that female falcons are generally heavier.

"The males, being lighter, tend to fly first," Baker said.

It is a moment people will watch with excitement, but also a bit of nervousness.

"In the past … a female will think, 'If he can go, I can too,' but she can't yet. She needs a few more days of practice," Baker said.

She said she's only ever seen three chicks unable to stay in the air during their first flight.

Falconwatch volunteers will start their work in the same week the falcon chicks are expected to start flying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

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