Some tiny peregrine falcons were born at the University of Montreal this week, and they were the first ones to be born there in three years.
The birds of prey began hatching Tuesday morning as their mother patiently helped them along. Their other mother, Eve “Madame Faucon” Belisle, watched the action through a camera beside their nest.
“I feel like I’m helping as well, because I installed their nest box. I feel proud like I’m almost a mommy as well,” Belisle told Global News.
Their nest is 23 floors up on the side of the tower at the University of Montreal. Peregrine falcons have called the tower home for over a decade now, thanks to Belisle.
“I always loved birds from a young age,” she said, adding that she has long enjoyed photographing different types of birds.
In 2007, the computer scientist moved to an office with a window that looked out on the tower.
“I saw a bird on the tower and was like ‘Hmm, that looks like some sort of bird of prey,” she recalled.
Belisle got the university on board and built the falcons a nest.
“Usually, they just use a cliff to nest on. Here, a tall building works because to them, it looks like a natural cliff,” she said.
She climbed outside the tower on the 23rd floor wearing a harness, and installed the nest. But no chicks had been born for three years until this week.
The female who had inhabited the tower was getting old. Belisle had grown attached to the elder bird named Spirit, but the building’s current inhabitant chased Spirit out in a savage battle.
“They were screaming, and it lasted about 35 minutes. It was hard to watch,” said Belisle, who was able to watch the changing of the guard on her camera.
The new falcon set up shop, and a male actually born on the tower came along, and now the little hatchlings will soon see the light of day.
“For the first six days, they’re blind, they can’t see anything. That’s why you hear their mommy vocalizing,” Belisle explained.
You can watch the falcons grow up live on a video stream:
She’s a trained computer scientist, but has won a Quebec Education Award for her work with the falcons. She says they should be flying in about a month. Falcons can travel over 300 km/h, which can be pretty dangerous for a clumsy baby.
“It’s like giving a Porsche to a teenager. He doesn’t know how to use it,” she said.
If all goes well, she hopes peregrines will continue nesting on the tower for generations to come.
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