Falcons thriving atop city hotel

A family of four peregrine falcons seem to love their stay at one of Red Deer’s biggest hotels.

A young Peregrine falcon watches from its perch on the Capri Centre building as a pigeon flies past Wednesday afternoon. A pair of the young raptors are learning to fly from their nest atop the hotel and convention centre.

A family of four peregrine falcons seem to love their stay at one of Red Deer’s biggest hotels.

The parents and two chicks have made a temporary home on the rooftop of the Capri Centre, which suits the hotel general manager just fine.

When Gil Vallee gets the chance to step away from his desk, he heads outdoors to see what the peregrines are doing 14 storeys up.

He’s not disappointed.

The parents are teaching their young to hunt prey “very aggressively.”

Vallee has even seen the parents catch some kind of bird and then drop it, while a young one swoops down to grab it.

“They perch on the side of the building throughout the day,” Vallee said. “It’s really great watching, when the (chicks) were so young and helpless, to being very graceful and beautiful birds.”

Alberta Fish and Wildlife and hotel staff initially had concerns about how the family would fare. Four out of five chicks born on top of the hotel died due to exposure from wind and rain.

The remaining one was barely surviving, so Red Deer wildlife biologist Dave Prescott gave it some raw chicken.

A male chick from Edmonton was brought to the roof in mid July.

A three-sided plywood box was added to help protect the two youngsters from the cold. Since then, no one has returned to the roof so that the chicks could feel safe as they learned to fly.

Vallee understands the birds will fly the coop towards the end of August or early September.

Peregrine falcons migrate south, with some heading as far away as Argentina.

Wherever this foursome travels, Vallee said he’d hold out a ‘Welcome’ sign upon any of their return.

“They took care of my pigeon problem,” he said, laughing.

Fish and Wildlife officials believe this is the fourth time that the falcons have chosen the Capri Centre for their high nesting spot.

Another three peregrine falcons are believed to be living on top of the Telus tower, on the north side or Red Deer, where a manmade nesting box was set up.

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

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

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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