Hotel peregrine falcons banded, named McMaster and Barton

The pair of peregrine falcon chicks born at the top of the Sheraton Hotel were banded and named Thursday.
The pair of peregrine falcon chicks born at the top of the Sheraton Hotel were branded and named Thursday. 1:10

At 730 grams, Barton is the bigger but younger sister to McMaster, one of two peregrine falcon banded Thursday as the pair of chicks got some first class treatment in the executive lounge of the Sheraton Hotel.

The bird was vocal when it was pulled from its nest on a Sheraton hotel ledge above King Street, and vocal on the steps down from the roof to the 17th floor while the pair were zipped inside a black carrying case.

But when Barton landed in the hands of Robin Macpherson, a 12-year volunteer with the falcon watch, she was quiet. Barton even posed for photos against the Hamilton Tiger Cats crest on Macpherson's sweater.

"That is the best thing Ive ever done in my life," Macpherson said after Barton and McMaster were returned to their nest, their mother Lily watching eagerly. "Real honour, real privilege."

"My adrenaline is still up on the moon."

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      This is the first set of chicks Hamilton has seen in the past two years. The former nesting pair, Surge and Madame X failed to reproduce last year.

      Surge was found wounded near HMCS Haida, and Ossie, a three-year-old peregrine falcon from Etobicoke, moved in. Madame X took to him him, said Mike Street, a senior monitor with the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project's Falconwatch.

      The affair, however, was short lived. Madame X showed up with a bent leg a few days later, coinciding with the arrival of a Lily, a female from the States. Surge has died but the fate of Madame X is not known for certain, but as far as the monitors know, she is still alive.

      Street and Anne Yagi, a management biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, believe this is the first set of chicks for five-year-old Lily. There were three eggs, although one was abandoned. Yagi said that will be offered up to Environment Canada, should they want to test the egg's fluid for environmental pollutants.

      The two eggs that hatched, 21 and 19 days before Thursday, are strong, large females. They're named McMaster and Barton — the eldest because of the new falcon watch headquarters will be in McMaster University's new downtown health campus parking lot.

      Barton was named after the city neighbourhood. It makes a bit more sense when you realize these birds will end up anywhere between here and South America, finding a nest (and possibly a local falcon watch) along the way.

      They were both banded, and brought back to the nest—in which where a volunteer had stayed. He needed to stop the parents from returning to the nest while the chicks were gone. Should Lily and Ossie have returned to find an empty nest, they may have abandoned the chicks. Madame X has dive bombed the guard in previous years. But Lily was less aggressive, squawking from the 18-storey perch just metres away.

      "They are very healthy," Yagi said. "My God their legs are so strong for their age."

      The falcon watch volunteers will monitor the first flights of the birds beginning June 22, bringing them back to the rooftop if they fall to the ground (as babies, they don't have enough power to take off on their own).

      If you can't wait, stills from the falcon camera can be seen here.


      • This article was amended to correct the spelling of Surge and to note that the fate of Madame X is not known but that as far as the monitors know she is still alive.
        Jun 04, 2015 8:51 PM ET


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