Biologists hopeful for falcon family on the penthouse

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is hopeful two peregrine falcon chicks living on top of a 14-storey Red Deer hotel will survive after a little human intervention.

An adult falcon keeps a close eye on observers while soaring high above the ground at the Capri Centre in Red Deer.

An adult falcon keeps a close eye on observers while soaring high above the ground at the Capri Centre in Red Deer.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is hopeful two peregrine falcon chicks living on top of a 14-storey Red Deer hotel will survive after a little human intervention.

Although Red Deer wildlife biologist Dave Prescott hasn’t returned to the roof of the Capri Centre in more than a week to see how the pair is doing in a man-made nesting box, he’s confident of their survival.

He doesn’t want to disturb them as they approach flying for the first time.

“There’s no reason they aren’t doing well now,” said Prescott on Monday.

Prescott and hotel staff were keen to help the parents of five falcon chicks, which were born on top of the hotel on the corner of 32nd Street and Gaetz Avenue. Four of them died due to exposure from wind and rain.

The remaining one was barely surviving, so Prescott gave it a “bit of a kick-start.”

“I gave it some raw chicken while the mother circled overhead,” Prescott said.

The mother seems to be a good one, considering all five eggs had hatched and had survived for a little while.

Fish and Wildlife decided to bring a male chick from Edmonton, where a young inexperienced mother had been caring for four.

It was brought to Red Deer on July 10.

A three-sided plywood box was added, which will help protect the youngsters from cold weather.

Prescott expects if all is going well, that these two birds will begin flying in about 10 days.

This is likely the fourth time that the falcons have chosen the Capri Centre for their high nesting spot, according to Fish and Wildlife. Peregrine falcons mate for life and breed in the same territory each year.

Two peregrine falcons and their young, believed to be three in total, are living on top of the Telus tower on the north hill. A manmade nesting box was set up there about 10 years ago, Prescott said.

Alberta has developed a recovery program for the peregrine falcon, which is legally a threatened species in Alberta.

“The public has told us that these species are at risk and we should be protecting them,” Prescott said.

The peregrine can reach speeds over 322 km/h in a dive, making it the fastest animal in the world.

Prescott described them as spectacular hunters.

They catch their prey in mid air and feast mainly on medium-sized birds. Occasionally, they hunt small mammals, small reptiles or even insects.

Prescott said people should be able to see the falcons flying around the Capri.

“They are majestic birds and are worth a look.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com