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Thursday July 1
Marcel Gahbauer, Natalie Helferty, and Mark Nash report: Again this morning there were three of the juveniles on the box feeding quite early. Unfortunately, with four males here, it is quite hard to tell them apart, so we can't be sure whether we are always seeing the same three together or not. We are beginning to notice slight differences in the facial patterns of the birds, but will need to study them some more before we can safely tell them apart.
All three peregrines had taken off by 7 am, and two of them carried food away with them - perhaps they were looking for a new dining room (admittedly the hack box is a bit smelly now - while we have tried to remove uneaten food to prevent rotting, four birds using a confined space like this as a toilet for three weeks does have inevitable consequences....)
Around 9 am, we got a bit of a scare when one of the peregrines missed his landing on an aerial of the Sheraton Convention Centre, and hung upside down on it for about 30 seconds. He then flew to the Royal Bank to the east, and laid down on the roof there for close to 4 hours before flying again. We had been concerned that the bird may have injured its feet on the aerial, but it seemed to perch and land fine after leaving the Royal Bank. Maybe it just needed time to rest.
In the afternoon, it became apparent that we may not have to wait as long as we thought for the peregrines to begin hunting. One of them made a very convincing attack on a gull near highway 7, driving the gull right down to the ground. The same peregrine, or one of his brothers (again, we have no reliable way of telling them apart when they are at a distance) made a stoop on a pigeon later, and it too was lucky to escape. At natural nest sites, where adults are present, the young fledglings normally don't begin to hunt for their own food for at least a couple of weeks after taking flight, so we are quite surprised at how quickly these four in Richmond Hill are developing.
Friday July 2,
Marcel Gahbauer, Natalie Helferty, and Daniel Rayman report: One of the juveniles came in for breakfast today around 6:20 am. Instead of eating the food where it lay inside the box, he took it out to the platform in front - perhaps he prefers to eat in the sunshine.
Shortly before 9 am, we witnessed some interesting social behaviour at the box. One of the males was lying flat on the platform when another emerged from inside the box, approached him, and began nipping at his wings. For about 15 minutes, he continued to peck at his brother's tail, wings, and back. The one lying down ignroed most of this activity, only periodically getting up to shift over a bit and lie down on another platform. it was evident from their stance and actions that the pestering male was simply being playful rather than aggressive, while the other one was either uninterested or tired.
As usual, the afternoon was quiet. Between 5 and 5:30 pm, all four headed out - two to the south, and the other two far to the northwest and out of sight.
The "S" logo of the Sheraton Convention Centre seems to be becoming a favourite hangout for the juveniles. Sir Richmond and Eco were perched on it for a couple of hours in the late afternoon and early evening. This is the first time since the day of the release that we were able to confirm the identity of any of the peregrines (they were close enough for us to read the leg bands). Finally we were able to look at them and observe the slight differences in facial plumage which may allow us to distinguish them in the future.
By about 9:30 pm, three of the peregrines looked like they were settling in for the night on the Sheraton Convention Centre. However, as it became dark, they all took off again, heading in different directions. We did not see them return, so presumably they settled down somewhere nearby but out of sight.
Sunday July 4,
Marcel Gahbauer, Natalie Helferty, and Daniel Rayman report: For the past two days, southern Ontario has been suffering from an unrelenting heat wave, with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) for most of the day, and cooling down only to the low 20s C (low 70s F) at night, combined with very high humidity.
Not only has this weather been uncomfortable for the coordinators and
volunteers trying to keep the Fledgling Watch going, but it seems to have affected the
birds as well (not surprisingly). They were flying less than usual, and certainly did not
engage in the aerial acrobatics that we saw on cooler days with better winds. During the
heat of the day, the four peregrines have been mostly inactive, searching out patches of
shade on the roofs of the two Sheraton buildings. Only in the mornings and evenings has
there been any noticeable flight activity, with two or three (and occasionally even all
four) in the air together.
Again on both days, at least a couple of the young peregrines made some threatening stoops at both gulls and pigeons. To date, we have not yet seen a successful hunt, but with the peregrines ranging further afield with each passing day, it could be that they are having success out of our sight. We suspect this may be the case, because they have not been eating quite as much food from the hack box as we had expected. However, it could simply be that with the lower level of activity the past few days, they have not been as hungry. Until we actually witness a kill, we will not be convinced that the peregrines have started hunting.
Tuesday July 6,
Daniel Rayman reports: Today was a fairly routine day for our four males. Their most spectacular aerial displays were performed early in the morning and in the late afternoon and evening. Today two males were spotted kiting and play-fighting southeast of the Richmond Hill Tower, in the vicinity of Hwy 404. This is the farthest south and east they have ventured. The pair were also flying at the greatest altitude I have ever observed. Today we observed for the second time a juvenile attempt a stoop on a bird (we think a pigeon). The boys have been increasing the frequency with which they are chasing the local pigeons. They are chasing the birds more often and for longer periods of time. Also, the juveniles have developed a habit of flying low over top of the corporate buildings just west of the tennis courts (north of Sheraton Hotel), stirring up the pigeons and giving chase. These behaviours all indicate that the juveniles are beginning to hunt. Again, we are very surprised at the rate our peregrines are developing.
Today was the first day that we put intact quail out for the juveniles. Previously, we had been plucking the feathers from the breast of the quail and cutting along the sternum to expose the body cavity. The juveniles did not appear to have any trouble with this preparation, which is good since in the wild there is nobody to pluck and cut there meals for them!
Wednesday July 7,
Sandra Metzger reports: All four boys came in to the hack box around the same time this morning to feed (perhaps the first time they've all been at the box together since being released). By the time all four of them were done with breakfast there was not much food left - not even scraps (they had not been given any fresh food this morning, and therefore had to make do with leftovers from last night). Natalie went up to the roof at lunch time to put two new quail in the box for the boys to feed on, but much to her surprise when she got out on the roof there were two of the boys present on the hack box (we're not sure who was more surprised by this encounter, Natalie or the boys! Having checked the monitor before going up to the roof, Natalie believed that all four birds had left the box).
The boys continue to harass the local pigeons and other small birds. At one point in the afternoon one of the boys took off after a flock of small birds, and then later in the afternoon three of the chicks flew very far north-east after a group of pigeons. The three of them stayed out of sight to the north-east for about an hour and a half, while the fourth brother had some lunch and then napped under the hack box (I think this was Nate - he came into the hack box around 3:45 and stayed in or around the box until about 7:15).
At 8:00 the boys rewarded the volunteers with some of the most beautiful flying I have ever seen. For about 10 minutes all four boys flew together, soaring in the wind, chasing each other and practicing getting higher than their brothers (a skill which will be useful when hunting). During this display a pigeon flew in farily close to the boys, but no matter how much I wished to see one of our boys pursue it they all seemed more interested in playing with each other.
Thursday July 8,
Natalie Helferty reports: Only 2 quail put out yesterday and not a scrap left today so we assume they still aren't catching their own food yet. They do try though. They have fun doing periodic bombing runs at the pigeons on the low rooftops. We gave them 4 quail today to make up for last night.
The 4 do a lot of pigeon chasing in the morning and even one went after a butterfly, chasing it like a bird, as Tracey Etwell noticed. June bugs are also a favourite to watch and chase around the hack box.
The 2 boys I spooked out of the hack box yesterday (Nate and Rouge I think) were back again today--same time, same place. No harm done.
A red-tailed hawk was flying on the thermals over the town hall. No reaction from the boys, but one did start a weak squawking while sitting on the Sheraton sign. I don't think it was because of the hawk though. Merely coincidence, as I don't think he was in a position to even see the hawk. We rarely hear a peep out of the boys, unlike juveniles with parents around. They squawk to be fed all the time. The squawking was unusual.
In the late afternoon, the 4 all got together for some play fighting in the air. Spectacular! Paul Grieve, the videographer, got some great footage. Soon after, 3 take off to the east, riding the wind way up high (Jean Martin estimates 1 km) and way far to the east so until they were just specks in the sky. The other stayed to feed on the hack box. We didn't see the 3 return, but they did show up later, possibly making a circle coming in from the west.
Friday July 9,
Natalie Helferty reports: Despite the rain, or because of it, one boy flew back and forth between the town hall and the convention centre. They seem to get quite excited when it starts raining. It's hard to tell if they like it or they don't though. Only they know.
The 4 quail from yesterday were devoured by early evening and the peregrines keep coming back to the hack box for more, so it's evident that they still need to be fed. Maybe it's just a convenience. They do enough bird chasing though to know that they are serious in wanting to hunt their own prey.
The 4 hung around the hack box in the afternoon, all feeding on the quail we gave them today. There was a lot of jumping and playing with the quail, attacking it before feeding. Quite funny to watch. Like a kitten playing with a ball of wool. They even do mock attacks at each other, especially when one is trying to sleep. Typical brothers bugging each other. Lots of sleeping and eating today.
Saturday July 10,
Daniel Rayman and Bruce Massey report: Same routine as usual today, except...two of the boys attacked a turkey vulture and drove it off!! This is the first aggression shown against another bird in self-defence. I'm sure the TV was quite surprised at being ganged up on. We don't know which 2 boys went on the attack.
Sunday July 11,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Today one of the local kestrels made the unfortunate mistake of attacking one of our peregrines on the north side of the Town Hall building. Very quickly the tables turned, with the peregrine pursuing the kestrel first alone, and then accompanied by one of his brothers. Luckily for the kestrel, they gave up the chase fairly quickly.
It was mid-morning when we first saw all four juveniles together, flying over the parking lot south of the Convention Centre. Throughout the afternoon, there were several occasions when two or three of the peregrines were seen together soaring over the buildings. At one point shortly after 4 pm, one of the peregrines flew southwest over the hack box, vocalizing fairly loudly (perhaps it saw the fresh food in the box). These guys have been fairly quiet since their release, but this is the second time now in the past few days that we have heard at least one calling.
Around 10:45 am, one of the males was seen eating on the north tower of the Sheraton Hotel. We haven't seen any of the juveniles fly away from the hack box with food for some time now, so it's possible that this represents one of their first kills. Of course, it could also be that it was simply a cache of food that this one or another dropped off their at an earlier time.
Today they came in to the hack box to feed in the late afternoon. For a while there were two birds inside, each plucking a quail, then they both carried their food out to the platform to eat in the sun. It's almost as if they have decided the inside of the box is their kitchen for preparing food, and the platform is their dining room.
Following his meal, one of the juveniles laid down on the platform, resting his head on the 2x2 around the edge. This one seemed quite lethargic for a while - even when he stretched his legs and wings, he did so lying down, rather than standing up. He probably was weighed down by a full meal, and simply needed a bit of time to digest - later in the evening he took off again and joined his brothers in flight.
Around 8:30 pm, Jean Martin happened to be watching on the north side of the building when one of the peregrines flew low over her head on the way to the Town Hall building. He was close enough that she was able to read his leg band as he flew past, and identified him as Nate. This is the first time since the day of the release that we have been able to read the leg band of one of the peregrines without using a scope.
Monday July 12,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Today was an exciting day in Richmond Hill, as it marked the first step in the launch of Project Track-'em, our research project aimed at learning about the migratory patterns of eastern anatum peregrines via satellite telemetry. This year we will place transmitters on four southern Ontario juveniles - two males and two females.
The males to be fitted with the transmitters will both be from Richmond Hill. In part this is because they are fairly easy to trap here (see our methods below) compared to a natural nest site. We are also interested in following the movements of these birds since relatively little is known about the dispersal of hack-released peregrines. In addition, few studies have been done monitoring two individuals from the same eyrie, so this will allow us to discover whether siblings travel together.
Late last week we modified the Richmond Hill hack box so that we could recapture the peregrines. We covered the opening at the front of the box with a weighted pillow case which we would hold up with nylon cord until the peregrines were inside the box, and then drop. In conjunction with this, we have for several days placed their food well inside the box to get them accustomed to going far into the box and well away from the entrance. We were pleased to see that the peregrines showed no reaction at all to these modifications.
Today was the day designated for trapping the Richmond Hill birds. In the early afternoon we readied the trap, and went inside to wait for the peregrines to arrive. It was a hot and sunny afternoon, and the juveniles were not very active - in fact, they stayed out of sight for several hours. It was shortly after 6 pm when the first peregrine returned to the box for food. As soon as he was far enough inside the box, we let the trap door fall. He was initially startled by the noise and/or movement, but quickly returned his attention to the quail. As I approached the box and entered it, the peregrine (identified by its leg bands as Rouge) did begin to struggle against the bars to get out. It was a bit of a challenge to capture him inside the box (hack boxes were not designed for people to climb in and catch birds!) but eventually he was cornered and caught without any harm done to either party. Daniel was there with a wooden holding box for the bird, and we put Rouge inside and took him downstairs.
Meanwhile the trap was reset for a second bird. Less than half an hour later Richmond landed on the platform and ran right into the box. He reacted briefly when the door was dropped, but was so preoccupied with his quail that he didn't seem to care much. Although he was by no means happy to be handled, he put up less of a struggle inside the box than Rouge did.
At this point we had two birds in our boxes, but we decided to reset the trap anyway. Our hope had been to catch Richmond and Eco, since they were the largest of the peregrines at the time of banding, and would presumably still be the strongest. It was just before 7:30 that we trapped our third peregrine. This one was by far the most vigorous of the three. It took us a few moments to recognize him as Nate, because he was running back and forth so quickly we couldn't get a good look at the leg band at first. Several times I thought I was about to get a good hold of him, but he kept escaping. Eventually it was Nate who turned the tables and caught me - lying mostly on his back, he grabbed my left hand (gloved, thank goodness) with his right foot, and my right hand with his left foot (I can attest to the fact that he has a very healthy grip!). Natalie had to climb into the box beside me to grab Nate from the back while he was preoccupied with my hands.
We had no intention of attaching a harness and transmitter to Nate, since he had been the smallest at the time of the banding by a considerable margin. However, we kept him inside for a short time anyway, hoping that in the interim we could catch Eco. However, Eco had been flying over the hack box after Nate was trapped, and it seems he realized that something unpleasant was going on there, because he did not return this evening. Around 8:30 we decided to keep Richmond and Rouge for the transmitter application tomorrow, and to release Nate before it became too dark for him to fly safely. Nate was released from the roof near the hack box,and he immediately flew southwest toward the Convention Centre, where he perched on one of the aerials, and was later joined by Eco.
Following the release, Natalie and I checked on both Rouge and Richmond before leaving for the night. Each of the peregrines was in a separate wooden box, with either a towel or a glove for them to hold on to inside. We removed both from their boxes briefly to squirt them with water - not only to calm and cool them down, but also to give them some required moisture (peregrines generally don't drink, as they get their moisture from their food, but since we didn't know when these birds had last eaten, we wanted to be sure they were not dehydrated). Rouge was noticeably more feisty than Richmond - he let out a few ear-splitting shrieks as we were getting ready to give him water, and was generally a bit more difficult to control. Both were put back into their boxes and left in the quiet and darkness for the night.
Tuesday July 13,
Marcel Gahbauer, Natalie Helferty, and Daniel Rayman report: As of today, Rouge and Richmond are the Canadian Peregrine Foundation's first satellite transmitter harnessed birds. Both remained in the Falcon Watch Centre until early afternoon, when Pud Hunter and Mark Heaton of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Mark Nash and Sandra Metzger of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation arrived to carry out the application of the harnesses.
Each of the 20 gram harnesses was fitted with a loop of teflon ribbon, and two leather strips kindly provided to us by Leather Ville in Richmond Hill. The transmitters were placed high on the back of each bird, with the leather strips on the bird's breast, below the crop. The harness was stitched into place so that it would be tight enough so as not to fall off, but comfortably loose so as not to constrict the bird. The fit of the harness was checked several times for each bird, including just before release, to ensure that it was correct.
Around 2 pm we started with Sir Richmond. He was taken out of the box, placed into a bag, and weighed. His weight of 567 grams was considerably less than his banding weight of 639 grams, but this is to be expected, given that he has since lost all of his baby fat, and also had not eaten in at least a day by the time he was weighed this afternoon. Sandra placed a falconer's hood over Richmond's head to keep him calm during the application of the harness, but even so, he remained somewhat feisty (at one point he even managed to flick the hood off with his foot!). However, there were no difficulties with the attachment of the harness, and within less than 40 minutes he was ready to go back into the box to await the return to the roof.
Just like last night, Rouge today was again the more difficult of the pair to handle. It was a challenge just to get him in and out of the bag to be weighed (he was 561 grams, down from 614 grams at banding), and while the hood did calm him down a bit, he continued to lash out with his talons at times, and also spent a lot of time turning his head around in response to Pud and Mark's movements (and of course trying to nip at them). Despite this, the attachment of the harness went much more quickly on him, as all of the minor challenges had been worked out with Richmond minutes earlier.
By around 3:30, we were ready to release both birds. They were placed inside the back of the hack box with the trap door still closed, and allowed to settle for a couple of minutes. The door was then raised, and both walked out to the platform within 30 seconds. One flew off soon thereafter, heading over toward the Sheraton Convention Centre, then looping back and flying low over the south edge of the Town Hall before returning to the Convention Centre and landing gracefully at the northwest corner. The other waited a couple of minutes on the platform, then made a short flight to the east roof of the Town Hall. Both were seen flying together a few minutes later, and seemed to be playing with each other in the air. While it seemed that they were flapping a bit more than usual, they were quite confident in flight, and had no difficulties manoeuvring in the air or landing. That they were flying so well this afternoon suggests they will adapt well to having the small harnesses on their back. However, we will continue to monitor them closely for a couple of days to make sure they are not being hindered in any way.
On a related note, the successful trapping of Rouge and Richmond marks the end of one phase of the Richmond Hill project. This evening the camera inside the hack box was removed, to be installed in the Guelph hack box tomorrow as their chicks are about to arrive. The Richmond Hill volunteer watch will continue through Thursday July 15 to keep an eye on Rouge and Richmond in particular. After that, CPF staff will continue to visit the site daily to provide food for the four juveniles for as long as necessary until they are all hunting well on their own. Updates will continue to be posted on the Richmond Hill page regularly, although probably not daily.
Thursday July 15,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: The Richmond Hill Fledgling Watch has officially wrapped up tonight. We are very pleased that the birds all flew safely, and that we never had to perform any rescues. Many thanks to the over 40 observers who spent a total of 775 hours watching the birds over the past 18 days. A full report on the activities of the juveniles during the last couple of days of the Fledgling Watch is posted below.
Natalie Helferty, Bruce Massey, and Daniel Rayman report:
Over the past couple of days we have enjoyed watching the juveniles
makes some impressive flights. Not only are they soaring ever higher, but they are also
practicing other aerial manoeuvres. Yesterday morning one of them flew low over the
parking lot south of the Sheraton Convention Centre with food in his talons, and one of
his brothers in hot pursuit trying to grab the prey from him. Later in the day one of the
peregrines dropped some food while in flight, and another quickly went into a stoop to
retrieve it from midair.
We have noticed that Rouge and Richmond have been spending some time pecking at the harnesses and antennas, but it looks as if it is more like idle play than frustration or aggravation (much like what chicks normally do for the first couple of days after getting leg bands). Their flight skills certainly don't seem to have been affected at all by the transmitters, as they are flying just as acrobatically as Eco and Nate.
A particularly bold robin landed on a ledge beside two of the juveniles yesterday and began to harass them. The peregrines quickly turned the table and chased off the robin, although they did not make any attempt to pursue and kill it. Only a few minutes later a red-tailed hawk made the mistake of flying past, and was attacked by these two peregrines as well as a third that flew in from nearby.
As usual, the evening flights were particularly impressive. Both yesterday and today, all four peregrines were seen flying together at times. Yesterday at least a couple of them made some serious attempts to catch pigeons, but just missed. Tonight we observed Eco take a quail from the hack box to the east side of the Sheraton Hotel, where he remained for quite a while eating it. Again these past two nights, it was difficult at times to tell which two birds were wearing the transmitters - without binoculars it is difficult to see the small antenna as they pass by in flight, and the harness patches on the breast are also too small to detect easily.
We are very pleased with the way that Rouge and Sir Richmond have adapted to their harnesses and transmitters. We had expected at least a slight adjustment period, but right from the beginning they seemed to have no trouble with the small backpacks. This is now the third day after the application of the transmitters, and we have no reason to expect that any problems will arise. We have therefore wrapped up the official Fledgling Watch tonight as planned, although we will continue to feed the peregrines daily, and will of course also monitor the birds at that time.
Monday July 19,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: We have some unfortunate news to report today. Shortly after 10 am, we received a call from the Wildcare Centre at Kortright (in Vaughan). Sir Richmond had been brought to them by Diane Gleave, who had discovered him on the ground near Woodbine and Highway 7 earlier in the morning. A preliminary investigation suggested that he had broken his wing, and Mark Nash from the Canadian Peregrine Foundation picked up Richmond to bring him to the University of Guelph's Wild Bird Clinic for further diagnosis and treatment. We hope to have more details soon.
We suspect that Richmond may have been blown east during the severe storm that suddenly hit the area on Saturday evening. The ferocious gusts of wind could easily have knocked him into one of the buildings in the area, and he may have remained on the ground ever since. We are extremely grateful to Diane Gleave and Jeanine Abernethy for rescuing him.
Tuesday July 20,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: News from the Wild Bird Clinic is that Richmond appears to have a fractured humerus, and that there may also be some injury in the area of the radius and ulna. A decision has not yet been made on how to proceed from here, i.e. whether to attempt surgery to reconstruct the bone, or to wait a little while to allow some of the injuries to heal first.
On a brighter note, I spent a few hours in Richmond hill today trying to catch up with the other three juveniles. They were quite elusive for a while, but when I went up to the roof around 2 pm to check on their food supply, I surprised Eco at the box (or perhaps more to the point, he surprised me - I hadn't seen any peregrines fly to the building from below, so I really wasn't expecting to find one on the box; more surprisingly, he didn't fly when he heard me coming, but rather waited until I came around to the front of the hack box, only about a metre away from him). He flew away and circled over me, giving me quite the lecture as he went. As I retreated to the door, he headed for the Sheraton Convention Centre, and I saw him land beside Nate on the Sheraton logo.
I was a bit disappointed that I could not find Rouge, but as I left I passed by the two boys on the logo again, and as I did so, I spotted another bird flying above and a bit to the west. As he turned in the sky, I could just catch the glint of the transmitter on his back, identifying it as Rouge. So, if only for a few moments, I did have all three of them in view together today.
Wednesday July 21, 1999
The latest word we have from Guelph is that they anticipate that surgery to repair Richmond's broken wing will be possible. They are waiting for the swelling in the outer wing to subside, and will then reassess his condition before proceeding.
Friday July 23,
Marc Kramer (Ontario Veterinary College) reports: Sir Richmond has an oblique fracture of the humerus of the left wing. Additionally, there is extensive muscle trauma, hemorrhage, and swelling surrounding the fracture site and he appears to have developed a mild infection.
He appears to be stable, is eating well in the clinic, and is on a course of antibiotics to treat the infection and prepare him for orthropedic surgery to be performed sometime next week.
We feel he has a 50/50 prognosis for return to full function of the left wing if it is surgically repaired, which will involve placement of an intramedullary pin and circlage wires around the fracture. Because peregrines require very precise flight maneuverability in the wild, the bone must heal perfectly if he is to fly again and survive as a wild bird. This will be a challenging case because of the extensive length of the fracture and trauma to the wing, the inflammation and infection, and a mild anemia.
Although we cannot guarantee that he will be a releasable bird, we will do our best to stabilize the infection and repair the fracture next week.
Sunday July 25,
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Yesterday when I went up to the roof to put out food for the juveniles, they were nowhere to be seen. I scanned all the nearby rooftops while I was on the Town Hall roof, and then looked at a number of additional perches from the ground, but without any success. However, it was very hot (35 degrees Celsius!), so they were likely being sensible and hiding in the shadows somewhere. Since there was only one quail left at the box when I arrived, some (if not all) of them must still be coming back to feed.
This afternoon I startled one of the young peregrines off the hack box platform. He (either Eco or Nate, as he didn't wear a harness) had been eating one of yesterday's quail, standing right by the doorway of the box. As I came around the front of the box, he suddenly saw me, gave one sindignant squawk, and flew away. After circling around twice (perhaps hoping I would leave), he glided over to the Convention Centre and watched from one of the aerials. A few minutes later, after I had put fresh food out, I went back outside downstairs and looked up at the aerial where he had been, only to see that he was no longer there. I have no doubt that as soon as he was convinced I was off the roof, he returned to finish his meal. The other two were not in sight this afternoon, but like yesterday, it was hot, and it isn't surprising that they were not flying around.
Monday July 26,
Natalie Helferty reports: After feeding the birds today at 4pm, I took a look around from the rooftop of the town hall. One of the boys was spotted in a favourite shaded spot on the north-east roof of the Sheraton Hotel. I went down and took a look from the ground and found 2 of the boys sitting in that spot, Nate and Rouge. I couldn't see the transmitter antenna on Rouge, but could see the harness straps across his chest. He and Nate were sitting alert, watching things flying around them, and I even think they were watching the loud people splashing around in the outdoor pool next door. They noticed me when I walked under them, but didn't care too much about my presence. As I was leaving, I spotted Eco fly in low over the hotel rooftop to join his 2 brothers. He had apparently been on the south side of the hotel roof. All three are accounted for and seem to be doing well. They are still returning to the hack box for food as 2 of the 3 quail from yesterday had been eaten.
Tuesday July 27,
Mark Nash reports: Early this afternoon we received a call from Becky Atkinson at the Wild Bird Clinic, and we regret to have to report that Sir Richmond has died. Surgery was attempted and successfully completed this morning, but Richmond did not recover from the anesthesia. There is always a risk when using anesthetics with animals (much greater than with humans) and unfortunately it is to be expected that a small percentage of avian patients will not survive. Sadly, Richmond happened to be one of these few.
Had the surgery not been attempted, the fracture likely would have healed to some extent, but Richmond would certainly never have been able to fly again. While the surgery would not have guaranteed a full recovery either, there was a good chance that after a period of rehabilitation he would have been releasable, and we felt that we owed it to the bird to give him a chance at regaining his freedom. Unfortunately it was not meant to be, and we are all very saddened by this unexpected turn of events.
Wednesday July 28,
Jean Martin reports: Today Echo and Nate were hanging out nearly all the time- mostly on the Richmond Hill Building. They took off periodically for spectacular swoops and glides. Nate was quite scary. He kept circling and nearly hitting a window at the Convention Centre near the S sign, (just to the right of it) through which he apparently could see a light. There was also a large plant in the window. He'd go to within a few feet of the window and then he seemed to almost hover before he pushed off again. What a view a person in that room would get! Then he'd circle around and go right up to the window again. He did this about 8 times.
It was almost dark when I left. Only Nate was on the ledge. As I was leaving and waiting in the left turn lane, one of them flew south and landed in the field just south of Number 7. Short of having a fatal road accident by going straight ahead I was stuck! I never will know if he caught anything. I never did see Rouge. No transmitter in sight.
Thursday July 29, 1999
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