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WATCH: Baby falcons hatching atop Montreal tower


It's a joyous day for Eve, resident peregrine falcon at the Université de Montreal: her babies are hatching.

The event is being live-streamed Sunday from a nest box atop the 23rd floor of a tower on campus.

The first egg hatched around 7:40 a.m., while the second opened up around 12:50. There were still two eggs to go as of the early afternoon.

You can watch the other babies hatch in real-time here:

The nest box was installed in 2008 on the southeast side of the tower, facing the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery.

It initially played home to falcons Spirit and Roger, who successfully raised their young for the first time in 2009.

The pair that now occupy the nest are Eve and a male known as "M."  

The tower makes for an ideal nesting spot for the birds, which like to make their homes on cliff faces. 

Ornithologist David Bird says it's what makes cities so attractive to falcons. 

"To them, the skyscrapers in the city of Montreal, and virtually every other large city in North America ... represent cliffs to these birds. They’re not buildings, they’re cliffs," he said.

Once the chicks hatch, they'll spend their time eating, growing, and eventually learning to hunt.

Life as a peregrine is unlike most other birds. First off, they are the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of over 300 km/h while diving through the air.

They hunt using what Bird called "the old fighter plane strategy, where they come out of the sun."

"They usually hit the prey in the head area with the hind talon."

Despite that spectacular speed, the chicks won't have an easy go at life outside the nest. 

The name itself -- "peregrine" -- means wanderer. Once the chicks have enough strength and down feathers, they'll leave mom and pop behind. 

They'll have find a place of their own, which can be challenging in a city like Montreal, which you could say is in a housing crunch for falcon digs. 

"They’ve got to find themselves a territory, and the territories in these cities are limited," said Bird. "These birds do not like to live next to each other, and they’ll actually kill each other to get a territory."

What's more likely is that they'll wind up outside of the city, or even in another urban centre in North America. 

Bird cited a study he and a team had done in the late 1970s, where they released about 50 falcons in downtown Montreal.

"None of them stayed in the city," he said. "One of them went to nest in Detroit, and another one went to nest in Winnipeg."

With files from CTV's Cindy Sherwin. Top Stories

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