Up on the ledges of some of Edmonton’s loftiest buildings, high drama is unfolding.
Romance, violent scraps and the start of new families are all parts of the unpredictable reality show. The stars of this series are the peregrine falcons that roost in nests with live, 24-hour coverage across the city and Alberta.
There are six falcon roosts around Alberta: four in Edmonton, one west of the city and one to the north.
The first camera showcasing feathered celebrities was set up by the Alberta Conservation Association in 2011, to provide a closer look into the secret lives of the birds of prey.
Kelley Stark, the association’s communications editor, says plenty of action can be seen on the streams, though things have quieted lately as the season winds down.
“We’ve already had the fights over the nests and the partners. Right now, they’re just calmly sitting on their nests.”
However, Stark says it won’t be long before the chicks hatch and viewers can watch their journey into adolescence.
The entertainment value is just a secondary concern for the association; peregrine falcons are classified as a species at risk.
Stark says that having the cameras up can help remind viewers of the unintended consequences of their actions.
“Pigeons can be a nuisance,” Stark says, as an example. “And if you have a population of pigeons by you, maybe don’t poison them because that is a major source of food for the peregrine.”
In future, the association plans to point its cameras at other species. Another kind of fowl, the ferruginous hawk, may be the next creature to get time in the spotlight. Beaver lodges or bat caves have also been considered.
“We’re just expanding the possibilities. Nothing’s set in stone.”
Watch below: In July 2017, Fletcher Kent filed this report about volunteers in south Edmonton who are trying to help bring back the population of peregrine falcons.