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of Prey Education Centre!
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for more photos of the male to be used as a stud at Parkland Mews!
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More on What is Happening
Out at Parkland Mews...
New Captive Breeding Facility for Peregrine Falcons
March 17,2004 (St Patrick’s Day) marked a special event for
Parkland Mews. On that day two pairs of Peregrines were moved into
their new home as part of the ongoing recovery program for the Peregrine
Falcon in Manitoba.
Planning for the new facility began almost two years
ago. The new captive breeding facility contains many of the features
we have come to rely on from our previous experience. Rather than
settle for the simple oblong barn structures so often associated
with falcon breeding, we opted for a more complex hexagonal shape
for each pen. The hexagonal shape allows the Peregrines to fly in
an uninterrupted circular pattern increasing the opportunity for
physical fitness, as well as for a wider range of courtship rituals
associated with Peregrine breeding behaviour. Despite the extra
costs associated with the shape of the pens, the anticipated benefits
justified the additional investment. Having settled on a design
we were able to formulate a budget based on cost estimates and then
began the process of fund raising. A number of proposals were sent
out to various agencies, including provincial, city and corporate
as well as to environmental organizations detailing the plan and
requesting funds. The responses were varied and there were the inevitable
delays and postponements. By November of 2003 sufficient funding
was in place to proceed with the project.
A few weeks later all the necessary permits and approvals
were authorized. Manitoba Hydro installed Hydro poles as vertical
supports for the structure and ran power some three hundred and
eighty five metres from the nearest power source to the site. By
early January both a project manager and a contractor were ready
to begin work just in time for the sudden drop in temperatures and
The building itself comprises of seven hexagonal
flight pens with twelve-foot high walls, partly enclosed wooden
roofed area separated by an area of wire-meshed roofing. The floors
are covered with pea gravel. Each enclosure is approximately 290
square feet. Other features include heated corridors and a 250 square
foot service block. The internal walls are sheeted with plywood
and the exterior walls are covered with metal cladding. Total project
costs are approximately $100,000.00 and this has been met through
both direct funding and in-kind support.
Given the severity of the winter there were anticipated
delays and while some things have been put on hold until after the
breeding season, the building is fully operational.
In the fall of 2003 we switched around individual
birds to form new breeding pairs based on our observations during
the 2003 breeding season. One of the challenges we face is the prevention
of our birds succumbing to the West Nile Virus. To prevent this
from occurring we kept our Peregrines in facilities that were fully
enclosed, including glass over the barred windows. What naturally
stimulates hormonal development in birds are 1) Day length which
requires a certain level of light intensity and 2) Cirannual rhythm
where daylight length and light intensity progressively increase
and decrease. An essential vitamin produced by direct sunlight (vitamin
D3) was filtered out by the glass coupled with the solid roof the
inside of the enclosures probably prevented the birds from experiencing
enough natural effects of the cirannual rhythm. While we prevented
the Peregrines from being infected with West Nile we were unable
to facilitate their breeding. It is anticipated appropriate screening
in the new facility will overcome this problem.
All of the Peregrines are pure Canadian anatum stock
derived from original birds brought into captivity by the Canadian
Wildlife Service. Four birds were purchased in 2000 and a fifth
bird in 2001. Typically Peregrines breed in either their second
or third year for the first time. Like humans they need to be compatible
with one another if they are to get along. Sometimes fatalities
occur when the larger females kill the smaller males if the pairs
are not compatible. Given the behaviour of the birds to date we
do not anticipate problems of this sort. The pairings are as follows.
11 June 2000
26 May 2000
12 June 2001
Finally a very conservative and cautious approach is being taken
in an effort to minimize disturbance to the birds. For the most
part observations of behaviour will only be taken during feeding
time once a day. For this reason incubation dates or hatch dates
may not be certain. However that is a small price to pay in order
to establish breeding pairs at Parkland Mews.
here to see Photos of the Flight Pens in construction phase
And with the Peregrine Falcons in there NEW home for the first time!