Meet me at the tent…

Schenley Plaza tent (photo by Kate St. John)...for Pitt Peregrine Fledge Watch!

Late next week the peregrine falcon chicks at University of Pittsburgh will be ready to fly (called fledging) and I'll be there to watch them.

Fledging is the most dangerous time for a young peregrine. He flaps at the edge of a 400-foot drop and launches into the blue. He has to learn to steer and land on his very first voyage. If he doesn't make it, he could land in the street.

Fledging is also the most exciting time for a peregrine watcher. The entire peregrine family is busy: the parents give flight demonstrations, the young walk the edge of the building and flap their wings, one of them takes his first flight and the parents follow to make sure he's OK. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

The peregrine chicks are likely to fledge between June 7th and 9th so starting Thursday June 5th I plan to be at the Schenley Plaza tent before 8:15am, after 5:15pm, and during my lunch hour 1:30-2:30pm every day including the weekend. Fortunately, peregrines try not to fledge during bad weather so I get a reprieve if it's raining.

You're welcome to stop by for Fledge Watch. As with any hawk watch, there are stretches of boredom (opportunities to chat) punctuated by moments of excitement (peregrines flying). Unlike a rural hawk watch this one comes with amenities: a tent, indoor restrooms, free wireless Internet, places to buy food, and on-street parking.

Schenley Plaza is at the intersection of Schenley Drive and Forbes Ave across from the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. The tent (pictured above by my cellphone) is visible from Forbes Avenue. Click here for a Google street map.

How will you find me?  I'm the one near the tent wearing a hat and looking at the Cathedral of Learning with binoculars.

10 thoughts on “Meet me at the tent…

  1. Is it possible that one of the chicks was already flying today,
    Sat., May 31? At about 1:55 PM, a large chick was perched on the
    very edge of the nesting box. A few minutes later, it appeared to be
    gone. It’s possible it just moved to the back of the box, where it was
    hidden by the shade.

  2. I don’t believe they would fly yet. There is a lot of space off camera that the chicks explore at this stage. They also hide in the shade in the back of the box. 

    By the end of this week the chicks will spend more time off camera.  Their first move will be to “ledge walk” – that is, walk all over the ledges near the nest without flying yet.  When this happens, the best vantage point for seeing them will be at Schenley Plaza.   

  3. You’ll have to be my eyes. It’s to far to travel and I really don’t think my boss would understand the time off. But I’ll be thinking of them. Good luck guys!

  4. I have a concern about one of the three chicks at the Cathedral. Whenever I watch that group, one of the chicks seems to be weaker than the other two. It appears to be smaller, also. It is either huddled over in a corner, or lying down, whereas the other two are perched on the edge, and seem so much more vigorous. Or, am I just happening to catch one of them “relaxing”? It’s hard to tell if it is the same one all the time, too. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I just imagining something that is not really there?

  5. All three chicks were given a health check when they were banded and they were fine.

    The differences you are noticing are because two of the chicks are male and one female. Among peregrines, the males fly sooner than the females because they are smaller (less wing load). You are probably seeing the two males hopping around and getting very interested in flying. The female will be at that stage a day or two later.

  6. They may return in the first few days but they usually don’t. At this stage the chicks are walking around on the ledges near the nest. They haven’t flown yet but they are very active.

  7. Around noon on Fri., June 6 – Is this one of the chicks or one of the adults staying at the nest? It sure looks like one of the parents, but the juveniles are so big now that it is hard to tell. It almost seems to be in some difficulty.

  8. Yes, this is one of the adults – panting. It’s hot out there but they seem to like the heat. Right now (12:38pm) they’ve moved into the shade.

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