June 7, 2012
Spare a Couple Hours For Some Falcons?
A busy time ahead over the next few weeks and if you have any time to spare, perhaps you might consider this...
Peregrine Falcons need your help. The Canadian Peregrine Foundation have started Fledge Watches around the GTA and beyond. We will have a team of volunteers on the ground at each nest site we monitor. This year we have a happy problem. With the success of the Peregrine Falcon recovery, we have 30 sites to monitor so we will need as much help as we can get. Fledge watching involves being on site to watch over the fledglings when they are learning to fly. Often they come to the ground and need to be rescued. Please contact me or The Canadian Peregrine Foundation if you are interested in helping in your area. Each watch lasts about 10 days. Any amount of time you can spare would help, the more the better of course! No experience is necessary there is always a senior watcher present. You will help by watching fledglings and keeping track of them as they learn to fly. Rescue training will be provided. No amount of time is too small! A few hours would be appreciated, it will give someone a break or cover an important time when help is most needed. The difference you can make is stunning.
We have the best example of what a difference a fledge watch can make to an endangered species, right here in Toronto. Back when Peregrines first returned to southern Ontario to nest, a young chick named Windwhistler was hatched at what is now Etobicoke's Sunlife Centre nest. He is now legend and never would have been had it not been for fledge watchers. Windwhistler was rescued after his first flight and is the best example of "so what, you saved one bird, what good does that do?" Windwhistler is now 14 years old and the resident male at our 18 King St nest. He double dipped for a few years being resident male at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto too. He is as far as we know Canada's most prolific nesting male, with this years brood of 4 bringing his total to 41 young. Several of those young are now producing chicks in Ontario and a few US states. This season his Great Grandchicks have been hatched at Canada Square (Yonge and Eglinton) in Toronto. We are trying to construct a full family tree. We are somewhere between 80 and 100 Peregrine Falcons being related to Windwhistler.
So there my friends is the difference saving just one bird can make!!! I hope you will consider joining one of the many fledge watch teams around southern Ontario. Check www.peregrine-foundation.ca to see where you might get involved.
It is estimated that 90% of birds of prey do not survive their first year. That is nine out of ten birds! So going on three nest sites close to my home being the Mississauga Executive Centre in the Hurontario and Burnhamthorpe area, the Sunlife building at Islington and Bloor, and the Harlequin family on Duncan Mill Rd in the Leslie and Hwy 401 area who have in total ten chicks between the three sites. Only one of these babies, according to statistics is going to see beyond his "first birthday"!
And now two weeks into the "fledge watch" season, with these ten chicks, we are already down to eight. Two of the three young Peregrines at MEC did not survive their first flights. It was unfortunate but nesting birds up on tall buildings face many challenges as they learn to master the skills of flying. Both birds had collisions with the surrounding high rises and plummeted to the ground. Of course CPF staff and volunteers dashed to the fallen chicks and attempts were made to save them but the damage was far too severe in both cases and both birds succumbed to their injuries almost immediately.
But going back to Windwhistler and his story above, he is as put "best example" of what volunteers have done in the past, and may very well do this season.
It's tough to make the time with full time jobs, families and other responsibilities; but I still make the effort with an hour or two every couple days; and maybe someone else out there can too. Most of the time is just watching, and talking, sharing stories from the wild and then perhaps coming home with a story or two from the time at the watch. Maybe it's witnessing an adult catch a Pigeon and bring it home to the babies? Maybe a territorial squabble or chasing away some seemingly potential threat? And then there's the further drama of watching these chicks up on the high ledges, and anyone with an ounce of care for these wild birds, will build up some emotion and excitement as they watch and wonder if this is going to be their first flight. If this is it, how is it going to play out? Will the chick fly well and make it to another ledge? Will he tumble down and end up on the ground which is where the watcher(s) must take action? I've not had to make a rescue yet or even witness one going into my second season of fledge watching. I am comfortable being an extra set of eyes on the birds as they start to move about and explore the big world around them. And listening to the more experienced people I am spending time with is a learning experience as well. Our friends Frank and Tracy are two of the best story tellers I have ever met. If nothing else, what better way to spend a few hours on a beautiful day than with great people with similar passions and making new friends with other volunteers.
I thank you for taking the time out to give this blog a read... and so does Oscar, one of the educational birds with The Canadian Peregrine Foundation.
Currently I, and Angie at times, will be at the Sunlife site, up until around June 18th, give or take a few days. The watchers here will be right across the side street from The Longest Yard restaurant where a great full view of the nest ledge can be had. Maybe we'll see you there?
Here is a link to the album I have started through Facebook from watching some chicks to a banding ceremony at Harlequin.