Famous Hamilton falcons welcome first chick of the year

The city's pre-eminent peregrine falcons, Madame X and Surge — who reside atop the Sheraton hotel — have a new addition.

Hatched around 7 p.m. on Friday

Hamilton's most famous peregrine falcons, Madame X and Surge, welcomed their first chick of the year at around 7 p.m. on Friday. (Hamilton Falconwatch)

Hamilton birdwatchers: The wait is over.

The city's pre-eminent peregrine falcons, Madame X and Surge — who reside atop the Sheraton hotel — have a new addition.

A chick of theirs hatched around 7 p.m. on Friday, according to Mike Street, a member of Hamilton Falconwatch.

Volunteers have set up two cameras facing the falcons' nest, and the photos publish automatically to the group's website

Pictures from Friday afternoon reveal Madame X sitting on four eggs, periodically turning over and apparently listening for any movement inside of them.

A webcam photo from 7:07 p.m. shows the mother hunched on top of a white fluffy ball — presumably her newborn — as well as the remains of an hatched egg.

And a shot from Saturday morning gives a clearer, fuller view of the post-natal baby peregrine, whose sex is not yet known, as well as the three eggs that remain.

Eggs laid in mid-April

Madame X, who is 14 years old, laid her first egg of the year on April 17. Street told CBC Hamilton that chick-bearing peregrines typically lay three or four eggs per "clutch," producing one egg every 24 hours or so. 

Then, he said, the couple takes turns incubating the eggs for about a month.

"In the six or seven years, the first bird to hatch is on Mother's Day, give or take a day," he said, noting that the first hatching took place about three weeks later than usual. 

"That really cold spring that we had, I think it caused [Madame X] to think, 'To the heck with it, I'll lay eggs when it's a little warmer.' "

The sex of the chick, he said, won't be determined until about late June, when Ministry of Natural Resources officials are expected to retrieve the bird from its rooftop perch to weigh it and fit it with an identification band.

In the meantime, falcon enthusiasts should keep an eye on the webcam over the next few days, as chicks tend to hatch in 24-hour intervals.

"There could easily be another one tomorrow," Street said.