Injured peregrine falcon found at OPG site now back in the sky
At a glance
- Juvenile peregrine falcon found injured at OPG site in Cornwall in June.
- Bird now back in sky after spending summer recovering at Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre.
- Peregrine falcons labelled a species of concern in Ontario.
A young peregrine falcon is once again spreading his wings and embracing a second chance at life after being found injured near OPG’s R.H. Saunders Generating Station (GS) in Cornwall this summer.
In June, OPG employee Joe Adams, a Service Trades Maintainer, discovered the downed juvenile falcon outside the Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre, suffering from an injured wing likely caused by an impact.
Adams acted quickly, taking the injured bird into his care. Before long, OPG’s John Sanna, a Site Environmental Advisor, was driving the bird to the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, which provides care to thousands of injured, ill and orphaned wild birds in eastern Ontario.
Over the course of the summer months, the bird made a full recovery thanks to the care of the centre’s dedicated staff and volunteers.
“This precious juvenile falcon was in our care for 66 days,” said Sandra Sawers, Executive Director of the Ottawa bird care facility, the oldest such facility in the Ottawa region. “Being a young bird, he was the perfect patient and healed relatively quickly from his injury.”
With their sharp talons and pointed hooked bills, peregrine falcons are great hunters that play an important role in the ecosystem by managing populations of their prey, particularly pigeons and doves.
When honing in on a target, they can dive, or stoop, as fast as 320 km/h, making this not only the fastest bird in the world but also the fastest animal on Earth.
Sometimes, that speed can lead to injuries.
“Peregrine falcons are notorious for slamming into things,” said Marion Nash, Director of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. “They love to dive, and sometimes they forget to put the brakes on.”
In Ontario, the migratory bird has been recovering in numbers steadily since the 1960s. That decade marked the low point of the bird’s population in the province. Peregrine falcons were classified as extirpated in Ontario at the time, primarily due to the use of the pesticide DDT, but are now labelled a species of special concern.
Known to nest in manmade structures around major cities in southern Ontario, including Toronto, several peregrines call OPG sites home, including at Stewartville GS, Pickering Nuclear GS, the Iroquois control dam and Lennox GS.
“We want to help these birds establish themselves in this area near Cornwall,” said OPG’s Sanna. “We would love to have them in the area.”
After more than two months on the mend, the injured falcon was released near his original nest location in Cornwall on Sept. 24, with his OPG rescuer Joe Adams also on hand to help with the release.
Before taking flight back into the sky, the young falcon received two bands with the help of the Innis Point Bird Observatory and the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. The bands included a silver-coloured identification band to help scientists track migration and population trends and a second black Canadian Recovery band that will help protect him from becoming captive for falconry in the U.S.
“It truly took a team of passionate individuals to give this beautiful bird a second chance at life back in the wild,” said Sawers. “It was a real community effort on behalf of many different groups.”
This is not the first injured peregrine falcon OPG has brought to the attention of the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre.
In 2019, a young falcon was found with a broken wing at the Saunders station. The centre cared for the falcon before transferring it to an owl care centre in Niagara for further rehabilitation. The falcon was released in March 2020, in Renfrew, having fully recovered and learned to fly again.
In its efforts to continue to provide advanced avian care, the Ottawa-region bird care centre is set to begin constructing a new, larger facility in Ottawa, a campaign which OPG is supporting through its Corporate Citizenship Program.