Hamilton

Newborn Peregrine falcons expected to take flight in Hamilton by first week of June

Griffin and Whitehern are the two newest Peregrine falcons in Hamilton and they are expected to take flight for the first time by the first week of June.

The falcons were banded on Saturday and named after Hamilton museums

Whitehern and Griffin, the newborn Peregrine falcons in Hamilton, were banded on Saturday. A senior monitor with Hamilton Community Pergrine Project, run by the Naturalists Club, said they should fly by the first week of June. (Submitted by Hamilton Community Peregrine Project)

Griffin and Whitehern are the two newest Peregrine falcons in Hamilton and they are expected to take flight for the first time by the first week of June.

Pat Baker, a senior monitor with the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project run by Hamilton Naturalists' Club, told CBC News a volunteer rappelled down the Sheraton Hotel to reach the nest on Saturday.

"We have a special box with four compartments and the climber rappels down the side from the roof above then nest and puts the chicks into the box," she said. 

The box is raised into the hotel where the group bands and weighs the baby falcons. The bands help track of the growth and spread of the species — it's especially important considering Peregrine falcons nearly vanished from eastern North America years ago.

The two newborn falcons, one boy and one girl, were banded on Saturday. A volunteer rappelled to take them out of their nest on the Sheraton Hotel. (Submitted by Hamilton Community Peregrine Project)

The group wore masks and gloves as they put bands on Griffin, the male chick, and Whitehern, the female chick. The baby falcons screeched as they were held, like an alarm that doesn't stop ringing.

Griffin weighed 517 grams and Whitehern weighed 720 grams. Both were both named after Hamilton museums. 

"They are extremely healthy birds," Baker said.

Outside of the hotel, the climber sat on the nest and waited for the chicks to come back. He also stays on the nest to avoid being attacked by Lily and Ossie, the parent Peregrine falcons. They watched carefully, sitting atop the building and hovering around it.

"The mother was back on the nest four minutes after the climber left. She was back with her children," Baker said.

Last year, there were eggs, but no birds hatched from them. It was the fifth time that happened in the 26-year history of the falcon watch.

The grown Peregrine falcon feeds its babies. They should take their first flight by the first week of June. (Submitted by Hamilton Community Peregrine Project)

By the first week of June, the chicks will fly. They will eventually get atop the ledge. As they wait for food, the falcons will pitter patter around and start "helicoptering" or preparing for their first attempt at flying.

With Griffin's lighter weight, he'll be the first to leave the nest. Baker said he is expected to fly on June 1. Five or six days later, it will be Whitehern's turn.

"It's always a little worrying. Occasionally the female decides, "If he can go, I can go too,' so we're hoping that doesn't happen this year because we're never quite sure where they will land.

Anyone interested can watch the nest and growing family via webcams.

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

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