TELUS Tower, Red Deer
(Platform is 302 feet (92 m)
above ground level.
Final adjustment of the
in the nest box.
Nest box hoisted to the top.
2010 First to hatch
2010 chicks (eyasses)
2010 chicks (eyasses)
NESTING AND RAISING YOUNG: The TELUS tower in Red Deer
has been used for years by nesting Peregrine Falcons.
Normally, peregrines nest on steep cliffs but they also
can use tall buildings for their nesting sites. Their
nests consist of only a scrape in the ground. They
generally lay 3-4 eggs but rarely have as many as 5 or
6. The eggs are 53mm X 41mm and are laid at 2-3 day
intervals. Most of the incubation is done by the female
but the male will help out. Incubation doesn't start
until the second or third egg is laid and lasts 28-29
days for a single egg. At this time, the male will bring
food to the nest. Once hatched, the eyasses (as baby
peregrines are called) will be closely brooded and fed
for the first 14 days by the female. After that he will
feed the young if she is absent. Young begin to feather
at 18 days and exercise their wings at 21 days. Mom and
dad tear off bits of prey to feed the eyasses but later
on the eyasses will tear up the prey themselves. They
fly at 35-42 days but will stay with the adults for
another 2 months.
PHYSICAL FEATURES: Adult Peregrines are a little bit
smaller than a crow; the females being larger than the
males. Males and females look identical with both having
the black "teardrop" and the dark bluish-grey crown,
back, and upper wing surface. The throat is white, the
underparts are white to buff, and there are
blackish-brown bars on the sides, thighs, abdomen,
underwings, and lower breast area.
In flight, Peregrines look considerably different from
hawks as they are more streamlined with relatively small
heads and long pointed wings. Their wings are shaped to
allow quick flying.
LIFE SPAN: It has been recorded that captive peregrines
can live up to 20 years, but life spans in the wild are
typically much shorter.
DIET AND HUNTING: They eat mostly birds but sometimes
feed on mammals. Sometimes they catch their prey after
spotting it from a perch or while flying. They may even
fly very low over the ground, taking prey by surprise.
Most often they hunt by flying very high then diving
(stooping) to strike prey out of the air. The peregrine
has been called the "fastest bird in the world", for
good reason; they can dive at speeds over 300 km/hour. A
stooping Peregrine's feet lie back against its tail and
hold its wings half closed. When dealing with a medium
to large-sized prey, the Peregrine usually hits the prey
with a half-closed foot during a dive. They will then
either carry it away, or if it is too large, let it fall
to the ground where they will land beside it to feed on
it. Smaller prey can be caught in mid-flight with their
talons or, like the larger prey, they will knock it to
the ground as well. Often they are unsuccessful when
going after prey for a variety of reasons: the
individual Peregrine may not have all the skills
necessary, or the prey species is particularly agile.
Another reason is that cover may be available for the
prey to hide in. They have powerful talons and their
hooked beak has a notch or “tooth.” They use this tooth
to cut the spinal cords of their prey. Their hunting
ability is also enhanced by their acute eyesight.
MIGRATION: During migration, they travel long distances.
Their over-wintering area can be as far south as South
America. In fact, the Peregrine Falcon was named for the
lengthy migrations of some populations: “peregrine,”
from the Latin peregrines which means “wanderer.”
CONSERVATION STATUS: Peregrines were listed as
“endangered” because there were so few breeding pairs in
the 1970’s. A major reason for the population decline
was exposure to pesticides. The pesticide level in
Peregrines caused reproductive problems. The eggshells
were too thin; thus the eggs weren’t viable and there
were no young hatching out. Hinterland’s Who’s Who
1974, more than 1,650 Peregrines have been bred in
captivity at the Canadian Wildlife Service breeding
facility at Wainwright, Alberta, at university-based
facilities in Saskatchewan and Quebec, and at a private
facility in Alberta. Staff from wildlife agencies and
non-profit organizations have released the
captive-raised birds from natural cliffs and tall
buildings at over 60 sites from southern Alberta to the
Bay of Fundy on Canada’s east coast. In 2005, there were
more than 200 pairs of wild Peregrines breeding in
southern Canada and more than 300 wild pairs in
the Yukon and the Mackenzie valley. Over 7,000
pairs of Peregrines are now thought to breed in North
America, including Mexico.” Peregrines were removed from
the endangered species list in the U.S. in 1999 but are
still listed as a species of concern in Canada. One
subspecies of Peregrine Falcons is still listed as