Pair of Peregrine chicks banded at Oshawa Hospital

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Published June 1, 2023 at 4:21 pm

Olive (or perhaps Elding) meets the world on banding day May 29. Photo courtesy the Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Oshawa Hospital welcomed Olive and Elding to the world May 5, though this twin birthing was not in the comfy confines of the maternity ward inside but instead on a ledge on the rooftop of the building.

Olive, who weighed 790 grams on banding day Monday (May 29), and her brother Elding, who checked in at 500 grams, are Peregrine Falcons, the newest hatchlings at the hospital, where falcon births have been recorded for more than a decade.

Their names were the result of a name-the-chick contest initiated by hospital staff.

Banding day is a big day in the life of the chicks, with one brave soul out on the ledge distracting the adults while representatives from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation take care of the banding and weighing of the birds. Two people from Environment and Climate Change Canada were also on hand to perform blood work (as part of a study on environmental toxins) and there was also a film crew and two lucky contest winners who got to see the procedure and the hatchlings up close.

Foundation volunteers will be keeping an eye on the falcon family when they take their first flight – likely next month – and will be there (fingers crossed) to rescue them should they come to ground.

Marion Nash of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation said it seemed like a lot of people in a confined space for the banding but they made it work with minimum disruption to the falcons.

“We were spread out enough that we could work without any problems and the chicks were not overwhelmed,” she said, adding that they minimized holding the chicks to protect hospital staff and patents from avian flu. “Everyone who attended were able to get some photos.”

The banding process

Nash thanked Don Barron, the hospital’s Manager of Engineering, and Lakeridge Health Oshawa for giving the Foundation access to band the chicks and for providing the nest boxes, which are equipped with a camera.

“Their tremendous support has made a big difference in the survival of these falcons and management of this nest site.”

The chicks received bands on each leg. The first is a Black alpha numeric Canadian Recovery band and the second a USA fish and wildlife band. Elding’s band number is C over 41 with yellow tape over his silver band. Olive’s number is 26 over AB with red tape over her silver band.

(The coloured tape helps fledge watchers identify the chicks from a distance.)

Baron, who said banding day “went very well,” told in indurham last year the birds have been nesting on the roof since before his arrival and were first noticed by the engineering team when they went on the roof to do some work and got attacked.

“The basic rule now is stay off the roof. We’ve had a few projects that we had to put off until the fall,” he said. “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.

Last year three peregrine falcon eggs hatched in mid-late April, welcoming Jessie, Eva, and Don (no relation). The previous year, just one chick hatched, a male named Colonel Sam.

The Peregrine mom’s name is Alfrieda, but falcon watchers were not able to positively identify the male as the same father as the previous year.

The hatchlings will be up in the sky hunting (evidence at the nest from previous years show a fondness for pigeons) by mid to late July.

Alfreida stands on guard for her babies

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