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Fat Albert

Owen Sound Peregrine Falcon Project

Summer 2001

Russell









Fat Albert
(Photo by Bert Armstrong)


The above picture of Fat Albert was taken shortly before his untimely death atop the grain elevator in Owen Sound. Fat Albert's brother Russell had been killed by an owl earlier.

Grey-Bruce Peregrine Recovery Team

Both Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus anatum) were purchased by a coalition of local conservationist groups called the Grey-Bruce Peregrine Recovery Team and were placed in a hack box (constructed by volunteers) on top the grain elevator on Friday, June 8, 2001.

Fat Albert or Russell at 29 days old(Photo by Craig Todd, OMNR)

The two falcons, 28 and 29 days old, were then fed quail daily while they did their time in the box. Both falcons were released from their "home" on Tuesday, June 26th, with the smaller of the two taking his first flight and the larger just taking it easy. Fat Albert finally made his maiden flight a few days later, on the 28th.


Bad News

The first bad news for everbody was Russell's disappearance overnight on Friday/Saturday June 30/July 1. Evidence found at the scene indicated that Russell had been attacked and killed by an owl. Very sad news after only such a short time out of the hack box! Albert kept improving his flying skills - chasing gulls and generally fooling around the area of the inner harbour and the grain elevator. He actually vanished from sight for a few days before returning on July 19th. He had been overnighting atop the cement silo on the east side of the harbour but after his four day disappearing act he, for some good reason only he knew, started roosting overnight at a spot on a ledge around the corner from the rear north-east grain silo. "A very bad spot," I thought to myself when I saw him there. And, sadly, it did turn out to be a very bad location to hide.

Fat Albert
(Photo by Bert Armstrong)

The above picture shows Al being checked out by one of Owen Sound's finest Crap Hawks (aka Sea Gull).


Grain Elevator(Photo by Willie Waterton)

Al's Swim and Death
Al went for a swim around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, July 23, 2001. He was atop the convergence of the upside down V tubes when it appeared he had dropped his dinner. He floated straight down to the ground below to get his food, then he hopped and ran around a bit, then with his meal in his right talon he went over the side of the dock, next thing I knew he was swimming alonside the dock towards the shore. He climbed up and over the old wooden pilings himself and then climbed up the wire over the stone dock. He then sat and with a towel provided by Bert Armstrong, he was carefully covered and transported back to the grain elevator, where he was released. He then ran away from the volunteers watching him and waited until his wings had dried sufficiently for him to fly again. He then flew atop the rear south-east silo and waited, letting his wings dry in the breeze. He then flew south-west around the elevator and came to rest on his new roost around the corner from the rear north-east silo. This is where he remained the night and where he was found dead the next day. "Fat" Albert was killed by probably an owl sometime early on Tuesday, July 24, 2001. A very unfortunate ending to a very promising experiment, but as some say, "There's always next year!"

Peregrine Falcon(Photo by George Peck)

Anthropomorphism?

Personally, I love critters in general, and I came to have a special fondness for Fat Albert while watching him. But many times there is the danger of carrying anthropomorphism too far and at the expense of fellow members of our own species! In my case, I have become very cynical and disillusioned about people who support the Ontario Provincial Government of Premier Mike Harris. So disillusioned that I've found myself turning away from people and preferring the company of animals instead. Recently, in his message about World Youth Day coming up in 2002, Pope John Paul II wrote, "Dear young people, do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals! Do not let yourselves be dispirited by those who are disillusioned with life and have grown deaf to the deepest and most authentic desires of their heart. You are right to be disappointed with hollow entertainment and passing fads, and with aiming at too little in life. If you have an ardent desire for the Lord you will steer clear of the mediocrity and conformism so widespread in our society." Now, whatever your religion, or even if you're agnostic, the Pope's words make quite a bit of sense. My lesson from this falcon experience is that I should spend the same effort attending to and helping my fellow Owen Sounders as I did with the falcons.

Feel free to write comments in the guestbook below. Thanks.

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Owen Sound Falcon Links:

Owen Sound Falcon Release Project Home Page - Includes photos and commentary by Kathy Dodge, local MNR "Bird Lady" and nice person.
Canadian Peregrine Foundation Home Page - This is where it all begins. Why not help by buying a membership?
Sydenham Sportsmen's Association Home Page - Information about local group who are sponsors of the project.

Pet Blessing E-CardSt. Francis of Assisi Pet Blessing E-Greeting - Send somebody a St. Francis of Assisi blessing for a pet. Couldn't hurt, everybody needs all the help they can get!


Owen Sound Links:

Owen Sound Area Internet Community
City of Owen Sound Site

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