After coming out the winner in a behind-the-scenes romantic showdown earlier this year, a local peregrine falcon is settling into life as a new mother.
 
Charlotte, her mate Bill, and their three newly hatched chicks are the 24-hour-a-day stars of the Nutrien Redwater peregrine falcon camera.
 
Nutrien is the site of one of six live-streaming falcon cameras brought to viewers by the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA), a nonprofit group that aims to protect and enhance fish and wildlife populations and habitats in the province.
 
The falcon cameras are part of the group’s educational outreach program. Peregrine falcons, once facing extinction throughout their range due to widespread pesticide use, are an at risk species in Alberta. According to the Alberta government, which routinely monitors the birds, there are about 50-60 breeding pairs of peregrines in the province.
 
Nutrien’s camera has been fixed on Bill and Charlotte since the couple set up housekeeping in their nesting box back in May. Charlotte won her right to the spot after a fight-to-the-death battle with another female who had nested with Bill the year before.  Violence ensued after the birds migrated back to town to start their families.

"Charlotte really felt strongly that this was her nest. And N53 felt strongly that it was her nest," said Kelley Stark, communications editor with the ACA. "Usually they'll just chase each other off, but it if comes down to it, they will kill each other."
 
New mom Charlotte is still getting the hang of parenting. The more experienced Bill, who raised chicks with N53 last year, has been taking care of some of the feeding duties, preparing meals of pigeons and other prey for the young birds as they grow big enough to leave the nest.
 
"He knows what he's doing. So he's been teaching her," Stark said.
 
The ACA falcon camera program draws a lot of public attention, with viewers tuning in regularly to keep track of the birds’ progress.
 
"It's very popular. It's one of the most popular things on our website," Stark said. "It's been really successful."
 
In the future the ACA hopes to use live cameras to turn the public eye to other at risk species in Alberta, including the ferruginous hawk -- for now the group has set up a trail camera to catch photos of the bird in its natural habitat. Some more common animals also might be enjoying some time in front of the camera.
 
“We’re thinking beaver lodges or bat houses or duck nest boxes or snake dens,” Stark said.
 
The young falcons at Nutrien aren’t quite ready to leave the nest yet, but when the time comes, mom and dad will help their fledgling offspring become masters of flight. Mature peregrines are incredibly fast, reaching speeds of over 300 km per hour as they dive to catch their prey.
 
 

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