Lakeridge Health Peregrines fledged and on the hunt in the Oshawa skies

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Published July 21, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Photos Tyler Wilson

It’s a tough job being a father figure to a couple of falcon chicks but Don Baron, the Manager of Engineering at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, is up to the task.

Peregrines have been coming to nest on the roof of the hospital for nearly a decade now and were first noticed by the engineering team a few years before Baron arrived on the scene.

“They found out they were there when they went onto the roof to do some work and got attacked,” he said. “The basic rule now is stay off the roof. We’ve had a few projects that we had to put off until the fall.”

“If we must be there, we bring a broom and hold it above our heads. The falcons will attack the broom and not your head.”

With help from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, a nest box was set up on the roof. Since then, the Engineering team has witnessed new falcon chicks being born nearly every year.

This year, three peregrine falcon eggs hatched in mid-late April, welcoming Jessie, Eva, and Don (no relation). On May 31, the Canadian Peregrine Foundation came to band the chicks, an operation which requires the chicks to be safely removed from the nest and brought inside. The babies were weighed, had their talons measured and sex confirmed and blood samples taken before they were banded and then returned to the nest.

As the fastest birds on earth, the teams involved in the banding had to keep a close eye on Alfrieda (AKA Mama), who kept a close eye on her babies throughout the process, and that involved one very brave person who kitted up and ventured out onto the roof with a broom to distract her – and sometimes both parents – while all that was going on.

“One man had to go out with protective gear and the broom while someone else reached in from an inside hatch to get the babies,” Baron said.

There is a camera inside the nesting box, which is three-sided with a roof, and engineering staff can watch from the ‘penthouse,’ a small mechanical room just inside from the nest box.

The camera is not yet hooked up online so Barron wasn’t able to see the chicks fly for the first time but he expects it took place in late June. The females – which are quite a bit larger than the male – likely went first.

Baron said the hospital’s IT department is working on getting the camera hooked up to the internet for next year’s babies so anyone with an internet connection can enjoy the birds’ progress.

The young falcons still are hanging around, he added, noting the young ones will usually stay until late August-early September while their parents teach them how to hunt. Evidence at the nest suggests they are partial to pigeons.

 

For the record, Jesse weighed in on banding day at 835 grams, Don at 585 grams and Eva at 760 grams.

Watch the video of the chicks here.

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