Hamilton falcon watchers fear one Peregrine chick has died

Falcon-watching volunteers fear one of Hamilton’s newest peregrine falcons, Griffin, has died. 

Members of the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project say they have not had a verified sighting of the male falcon in about a week. 

Volunteers have searched the skies and buildings downtown in the attempt to spot the bird, but came up empty. 

“We have to resign ourselves to the fact that one of our two chicks did not survive his last collision with a building a week ago, despite the initial impression that he flew away strongly,” the group wrote in a recent post on their website. 

The Hamilton Community Peregrine Project had been posting updates on their search online, where volunteers also use two cameras to monitor the birds

The falcon hasn’t been seen since volunteers reported him hitting a window on the Stelco Tower and turning back to the Sheraton. He was then lost from view. 

Pat Baker, a senior monitor with the group, said that security has helped them look for Griffin by providing access to rooftops, but they haven’t had luck. 

“We’ve been up three or four times up toward rooftops with binoculars looking to see if we can see him…and haven’t had any trace,” she said. “Likely it is that he has come down somewhere.” 

Griffin was released back to the roof at the Sheraton Hotel on June 21st after returning from the Owl Foundation. (Hamilton Community Peregrine Project)

Falcon fell in early June

Griffin and Whitehern are two of Hamilton’s newest falcons who started flying earlier this June. Both were named after the city’s museums. 

Griffin had been flying on June 12 when volunteers said they saw him fall, landing on the road and near the sidewalk. While Griffin attempted to fly again, he hit the Thomson building and fell once more. 

Volunteers were able to rescue the falcon, who was taken to the Owl Foundation in Lincoln for rehabilitation. 

The group regularly published updates from the foundation that Griffin was “doing well” and continuing to behave more normal as time went on. 

He was released back to his family atop the Sheraton Hotel on June 21. Watchers said that he had been flying well and took off across the Marquee building.

But the next day, Griffin hit the Stelco Tower window and disappeared. It became unclear during the following days whether the falcons chasing each other in the sky were four different birds or only Whitehern and the adult birds, Ossie and Lily. 

Griffin took his first flight a couple days before he fell and was recovered by volunteers. (Hamilton Community Peregrine Project)

One of the things the group was watching for, Baker said, was if the adult birds were bringing food someplace else. As of yesterday afternoon, the group didn’t see any evidence that the falcons were looking in a particular area. 

“That’s not a good sign,” Baker said. “That was one of our clues as to where we should be looking…but we didn’t get that.” 

She said the group is confident Griffin isn’t on a road, as volunteers would have seen him throughout their extensive searches, but could be on a rooftop somewhere in the city. 

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, in partnership with the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project, marks the falcons so that they can track their growth and spread.

Griffin is marked with a band of yellow tape around his leg.

For the surviving chick, Whitehern, the group says she is “yet another amazing Hamilton success story.”

“Powerful, agile flier, keeping up with her parents and regularly talon touching. Well on her way to learning all the skills needed to hunt in the wild. And she better be good at it, because she certainly does eat a lot,” they wrote. 

Last year, the eggs in the nest had failed for the fifth time in the watch’s 25 year history. In 2018, one of the city’s falcons, Gage, was fatally struck by a car. 

If someone spots Griffin, the group is asking that they call the city’s animal control, who has contact with the falcon watchers. 

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