Young peregrine falcons have returned to Windsor's Ambassador Bridge

A familiar kind of bird is back at the Ambassador Bridge: two young peregrine falcons have been spotted on a beam on the Windsor, Ont.-Michigan crossing.

Group says it's trying to catch and band the birds so it can name and keep track of them

Peregrine falcons back at Ambassador Bridge

11 months ago
Duration 1:40
Peregrine falcons have been known to nest at the Ambassador Bridge. After a hiatus of several years, they have now returned, explains Bob Hall-Brooks, a volunteer with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation.

A familiar kind of bird is back at the Ambassador Bridge: two young peregrine falcons have been spotted on a beam on the Windsor, Ont.-Michigan crossing.

And it's the first time in at least two years that the at-risk species has nested there.

Bob Hall-Brooks, a volunteer with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, said the birds are known to nest under the bridge. But they haven't done so in the last couple of years amid construction. Now they're back.

"We were lucky enough just the other night to hear the young calling under the bridge over here," Hall-Brooks said.

"They've just moved their nest into one of the beams of the bridge and are still nesting at this site." 

The group banded its last falcon at the bridge about two years ago, Hall-Brooks said. Once they are able to, the group will try to band the young falcons.

Banding the birds gives them an identity, Hall-Brooks said.

A fledgling falcon rests on a beam at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., on Monday. (Mike Evans/CBC)

"Once they have an identity, then we can actually name them," he said. "We've already picked a couple of names for these two, but can't officially give them to them until we actually put the bands on the bird."

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation is a group dedicated to restoring falcon population levels.

Nearly wiped out in the 1960s, the species has rebounded and peregrines are now classified as at risk in Ontario.

On its website, the foundation calls the falcon's population experienced "a sudden and severe decline" that began in the 1950s.

"Within less than 20 years, the peregrine became extirpated from much of its range, and was barely clinging to existence in most of the remainder," the site says.

DDT, which is now banned, was the culprit, the foundation says. Conservation efforts helped bring the bird back.

In recent months, four baby peregrines were banded in Hamilton through the foundation. Hall-Brooks said one of Hamilton's female falcons was originally from the Ambassador Bridge group.

Bob Hall-Brooks, a volunteer with the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, says once the young peregrines are banded, they can be named. (Mike Evans/CBC)

Hall-Brooks said he believes the Windsor falcons will take flight within a week.

"We think they're getting close," he said. "They're starting to exhibit the flapping behaviour, which is sort of like they're strengthening their wings, getting ready to take off."

Hall-Brooks said he believes a male and a female are currently nesting on the bridge, but cannot confirm that until they are in hand.

Peregrine falcons typically nest on ledges, according to Hall-Brooks. Parents are actively involved in the nesting process and taking care of their young. Both male and female parents take turns to hunt for food and bring it back to the nest.

Once young falcons fledge, or take their first flight, their parents will accompany them in that process as well.

A young peregrine falcon is seen at the Ambassador Bridge on Monday. (Mike Evans/CBC)

"That will progress until probably around the beginning of September, when the young are showing that they can look after themselves, at which point they will be driven off the home territory," said Hall-Brooks.

The Ambassador Bridge is not the only place in Windsor that peregrine falcons have been known to nest.

"More recently, we're finding that they nest on tall buildings in cities here," said Hall-Brooks.

"We also found a nest a couple of years ago over at Hiram Walkers on their grain elevators."

With files from Michael Evans