.The Peregrine Falcon population took a big hit in the mid 1900s due exposure to pesticides, primarily DDT. Bioaccumulation within the food chain is thought to be the primary factor causing this collapse. Pesticides affected the reproductive success of the species and as a result, Ontario’s Peregrine Falcon population completely disappeared in 1963. In the early 1970s, pesticides like DDT were banned in Canada and the United States.
The Peregrine Falcon generally nests on cliff ledges or crevices. Tall skyscrapers mimic these cliffs and when combined with large prey populations (i.e. pigeons), cities prove to be an ideal habitat for this species! In 1994, a Peregrine Falcon was spotted in downtown Hamilton near the Sheraton Hotel. The presence of a nesting pair was confirmed in 1995. This was significant because falcons show site fidelity and return to the same nesting site year after year. This inspired the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club to coordinate a monitoring effort and Falconwatch was born!...
Falconwatchers can be found at the base of the Sheraton Hotel in Hamilton from June to July, looking up. What are they doing? Monitoring the activity of young falcons in the nest. Sometimes these youngsters get too adventurous for their own good. When fledglings are learning to fly, they wander out of the nest and attempt their first flight. Sometimes, they flutter to the ground and are unable to return to the nest. It is the job of volunteers and contract employees to be the “first responders”. They protect the falcon until professional help arrives. Falconwatch engages with the public to increase awareness of their program and the Peregrine Falcon. A display is set up in Jackson Square and volunteers educate passers by about what they’re up to; hopefully recruiting new volunteers to help with this large monitoring effort. The Peregrine Falcon is designated as Special Concern in the Ontario and in Canada due to ongoing population increases thanks to groups like Falconwatch.
If you live in and around Hamilton, Falconwatch needs you! There are many ways you can help out as a volunteer Falconwatcher. Volunteer On-Street Falconwatchers are mainly needed in June. Shifts are either 2 or 4 hours; they start at 5 am and end with the sunset at around 9 pm. Whatever your employment situation, there is a shift that will work for you! If public outreach and engagement is your specialty, you can assist with the display. Help spread the word and supervise the booth in Jackson Square or join Falconwatch at other community events.
Falconwatch also hires a Volunteer Coordinator. You will work closely with Senior Monitors to oversee all aspects of the on-site Falconwatch. The successful applicant will be trained in falcon rescue, undergo general volunteer training and become acquainted with downtown property managers, personnel and locations of important buildings. A full job description can be found here.
As the world evolves, new threats continue to emerge. This is your chance to get involved in a 20-year program that has helped generations of falcons fledge successfully! Help make a difference and bring back the falcons! Volunteers must attend a training session which usually occurs in June.
If you are interested in participating in Falconwatch, contact Morgan Roblin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and check out their website for a live stream of Hamilton’s nesting pair!