Hamilton bird watchers have their eyes to the rooftop of the Sheraton Hotel in the city’s downtown as the resident Peregrine falcons prepare to hopefully welcome some new chicks.
This year, however, the falcon couple that has used the Sheraton nest these past six years, Lily and Ossie, seem to be going through a little drama of their own.
It appears that Ossie has been replaced by another male falcon and as Lily navigates this crucial state of brooding right before their eggs are expected to hatch without her longtime mate, the fate of the hatchlings is yet to be determined.
Earlier this spring, everything seemed to be on track for Ossie and Lily as they settled in to their nest in early April.
Members of the Hamilton Community Peregrine Project noticed something was up, however, last weekend when Ossie didn’t return to the nest with food for Lily.
Things took an even more concerning turn when another male falcon started showing interest in the Sheraton nest.
“With mere days or even hours to go before Hamilton chicks hatch, a new adult peregrine has appeared on the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel,” an update on the group’s website on Saturday (May 8) said.
“Shortly after 9am, while Lily was brooding her eggs, this adult landed on the second ledge, and appeared to settle in, with no apparent reaction from Lily.”
As Lily sits on her eggs, Ossie’s role is typically to keep her well-fed until the babies arrive. This week in particular is crucial as this is precisely the time of year when watchers expect to see hatchings.
The Hamilton FalconWatch Facebook group has been a hive of activity this week as enthusiasts ponder the future of Lily and Ossie’s eggs.
“Does this mean the nest has failed, Ossie is gone and we wait for the next eggs? Next year?” wrote one watcher.
“What are the chances that Ozzie could come back to be with Lily?” another asked.
Charles Gregory, who heads up the Falcon Watch group and runs the project’s website, urged falcon fans to not give up hope on this year’s flock.
“It is only 3 days past the expected hatching date. So i would give it a few more days before counting out the current clutch,” Gregory wrote in response to one Watcher’s question on the viability of the eggs.
“And Lily will almost certainly continue to tend it for another week or two.”
In the meantime, the new male falcon has been identified as Judson, who was fledged in 2018 from the Richardson Complex in Buffalo, N.Y.
In a fairly poignant twist of fate, Judson, it turns out, is the offspring of Felker, who fledged from Hamilton in 2012.
The coming days will be crucial for Lily and the newly arrived Judson who may or may not take to or provide for the little fledgelings and their mom when/if they hatch but watchers will continue to hold out hope.
“Always a bit sad to see one of our falcons go, but this is the way of nature,” the project’s website said in an update on the evolving situation.
“Lily will soon adjust to this new situation, and hopefully by the time the chicks are little eating machines, Judson will be hunting for them, just as Ossie would have.”