The Canadian Peregrine Foundation head office received a call from a downtown building, reporting a peregrine in the mechanical room of the structure.
With my handy net in hand, I ventured out to investigate. The address of the building (along with the digital picture they sent) made it a very good possibility that it was indeed a peregrine. In the past weeks, both Sheraton juveniles ( Kevin and Dina) have been seen on and around 400 University Ave, also known as the "Zurich" building.
Upon my arrival I was introduced to Carlos Botelho, Operations Manager for Crown Properties, at this location. He informed me that he was the one that spotted the bird and made the call. He explained that the bird had been in the building for the past several days over the weekend, and had not been able to get out.
I couldn't believe it when I saw where this bird was sitting. It was up at least 30 plus feet and near the ceiling of this huge mechanical room.... way up there, and my handy little net, was just that, way too little. I was escorted around the entire floor that makes up the mechanical room by Carlos who explained to me, that it could have possibility been in here a few days from the number of "drop" marks on the floor. These markings were also helpful in telling us, where it has been roosting, where the bird can get to, and of course how long it has been there.
I placed a call to Mark Nash, and explained the situation. He had a little difficultly understanding where the bird was located, only because I don't think we have ever had a situation like this before, and once that was clarified, Mark in turn called in the reinforcements. As with the first time that Diana got into trouble, it was quite obvious that more equipment, and more bodies and hands would be needed to get her out of this situation!
Humane Society officers, Brandy Hill and William Robinson, (who were on hand to held us with the rescue of Dina from the Air Shaft), came to our assistance, along with John, from OMNR Aurora District Office, Mark Nash, Marion Nash and myself.
Over the next five hours, and more than a dozen failed attempts, the bird remained very high and out of reach of any ladder or extendable net, and all efforts to coach the bird down were pointless, as soon as we would get close, she would fly off to another area amongst the mired of ceiling pipes, cables, and wires . We tried dimming the lights, but there was still ambient light that the bird could see its way out of our reach as she flew around the entire upper area of the huge mechanical room. Thousands of hiding places!!!
A few times we completely lost sight of it due to the endless runs of various sizes of crossover pipes, and it was during these flights that we discovered that she could go even higher close to forty feet into the upper ceiling areas. Dark, poorly lit areas that offered her hundreds of places to conceal herself! And she did do just that on many occasions. Much of our time was trying to locate her after a flight into another part of the upper ceiling area. Talk about a cat and mouse game!!
Hours passed, and many failed attempts to catch her, it was quite obvious that she was not losing any steam!! By this time, the heat and humidity has got the best of us, and the noise and the inability to properly communicate with each other due to the ear protection we were wearing, we eventually had to call it a night and try a different strategy tomorrow.
It's not funny anymore
The afternoon begun with a trip out to the Canadian tire store to purchase additional supplies,,, - a 12 foot extendable painters pole, two more 5 foot pole nets, some fishing line, a piece of jute carpet – (in a fashionable earth-tone brown), duct tape, more AA batteries for the 2-way radios, more fresh de-thawed peregrine food, fresh towels, and some renewed enthusiasm.
We regrouped later in the afternoon, with hopes that less disturbance in the area will be a benefit to our endeavors. Unfortunately, Humane Society Officers could not be in attendance. Bruce Massesy, Marion Nash, Mark Nash and myself ( Linda Woods) arrived on site to try again.
Today, Carlos informed me that the bird had moved to the other side of this vast expanse of huge pipes. We still don't know how that was possible unless it went through the adjoining doorway, and that was possible since that is how this bird got into this area in the first place. Who would have thought and perhaps one for the books. Yes they do use doorways.
We all sat down to formulate two plans, our problem was which one to we try first. A quick look at our new situation and investigate the new surroundings. To our surprise the bird was in an area that was a little more accessible, still very high, but with less obstacles. (only hundreds of pipes, not thousands of pipes)!! Thank goodness for the huge 20 foot ladders at our disposal that allowed us to get atop of the many elevations needed in our efforts to reach her with the extend-a-nests.
We got into our positions as Marion and Mark approached the bird , and yet again, and again and again and again, it would fly out of out reach. So that was it!
Now on to plan A, which we should have done the first time. TURN OFF ALL OF THE LIGHTS!
As we slowly turned off lights, one by one, we could still see the bird with the aid of flashlights, and it appeared it wasn't going anywhere. Once again positioned ourselves around the parameter of the bird's location, and some twenty feet in the air as Mark and Marion approached it in the darkness with their nets,.... AND SUCCESS! Two nets, wailing hands, and some head banging, combined with a short struggle, (and after the screaming stopped), Mark was fine and so was the bird. ( apparently the bird grabbed the nether regions of Mark's jeans) in the darkness.
Once the bird was safely in the rescue carrier Mark made the confirmation from the leg bands that it was none other than DINA AGAIN!!!!!
Dina was one of two chicks hatched May 17th, 2007 at the Sheraton Hotel and named after CITY T.V. Breakfast Television Host Dina. (The second hatchling, Dina's brother, is named after Kevin from Breakfast Television.)
This is the second Major rescue we have initiated for Dina. She was pulled out of an airshaft on July 1st, - (Naturally on a Long holiday Week-end when no one was around),, (and only after we had to dismantle a twenty foot – (four foot round air shaft section)!! At that time we thought that was difficult!!!!
We have summarized what could have happened, and of course we will never know exactly. Dina and her sibling, Kevin, have been seen frequenting this area of the "Zurich" building for a while now. The cooling towers are an attraction because of the cool water and mist. Along with the fact that the pigeons are drawn to this area as well. We think she may have attempted to chase a pigeon and lost her footing, dropped down between the side of the building and the cooling tower and into the maintenance area. There was no where else to go and I guess curiosity drew her through the open maintenance door into the upper mechanical floor.
I am so happy to see she is still around, after the first rescue I would have thought she had learned her lesson. I guess not.
It is also gratifying to know, that staff at the major buildings in the downtown core, take the time for an animal in need and call someone to assist them.
If you call us, We will come.
A wonderful job by all who were involved.
Many Thanks to:
400 University Ave.
The Maintenance Staff of 400 University Ave. for their understanding and support
400 University Ave (Crown Property Management)
OMNR, Aurora District Office (John)
Humane Society Officers Brandy Hill and William Robinson
Security Officers at 400 University Avenue.
Of course, the CPF would like to add a note of thanks to Linda Woods both for her own role in these events and for writing this story.