Jun 06 2008

One Fledged!

Published by at 10:10 pm under Peregrines

Peregrine falcon fledgling (photo by Kim Steininger)One of the young peregrine falcons at University of Pittsburgh fledged today. Karen Lang and I think it happened while we were at work this afternoon.

Though both of us walked past the Cathedral of Learning on our way to Schenley Plaza, neither of us noticed the young bird. It was only when Dorothy and E2 flew really low around the east and south face that Karen said, "I'll bet one fledged. They never fly that low unless there's a fledgling down there."

Sure enough he was clinging to a narrow window arch above the 14th floor. His parents wouldn't feed him in such a confined space so they flew back and forth, urging him to move to a safer spot.

That's when E2 spotted the great-horned owl on the 4th floor roof. It's a statue that rotates its head to scare the pigeons and it must have moved when E2 flew by. He totally freaked out.

Only 10 floors below their baby was their mortal enemy! E2 zoomed back and forth kakking and attacking. The owl wouldn't budge (of course). Dorothy joined the fray and we watched two peregrines in attack mode only 40 feet above the sidewalk. The frightened youngster cowered on his perch, trying to look small and inanimate.

By 7:00pm, I was hungry and Karen had to go home. E2 and Dorothy were still kakking at the owl but slightly toned down. They weren't flying at it.

My husband and I went to dinner a few blocks away and when we walked back at 8:30pm the fledgling was still on his perch and the adults no longer cared about the owl statue.

The fledgling will probably stay on his perch all night. Tomorrow at dawn he'll be hungry enough to fly somewhere else. I hope I'm up and out there early enough to see it.

Thanks to Kim Steininger for permission to use her photo of a peregrine fledgling in Wilmington, Delaware. See more of her excellent bird photography at www.birdsbykim.com or click on the photo above.

p.s. Saturday June 7, 8:30pm: This evening two fledglings were perched on the 21st and 10th floors respectively. The third baby is still waiting near the nest. Maybe she'll fledge tomorrow.

Monday June 9, 8:00am: Still only two fledglings.  Yesterday afternoon the female nestling finally jumped up to the launching area.  Maybe she'll fly this evening.

Monday June 9, 2:30pm:  She fledged this morning.  At lunchtime Karen and I found the young female whining for food from the edge of the 32nd floor roof.  All 5 peregrines are present and accounted for.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “One Fledged!”

  1. Janice Andrewson 07 Jun 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks for sparking my interest in the falcons! We came in to Oakland earlier than needed yesterday evening, just to watch from Schenley Plaza. I could see 2 soaring about the cathedral, I assumed the parents. It was amazing how high they would go at times. One did land lower on the Student Union side of the cathedral-in one of those big rain spout-looking pieces.

  2. Mikeon 08 Jun 2008 at 10:18 am

    Is everything alright @ the Cathedral nest? I noticed one of the fledglings has been laying in an awkward position for some time.

  3. Kate StJon 08 Jun 2008 at 11:09 am

    Yes, everything’s fine. I was at Schenley Plaza checking on them at 7:30am. Karen Lang was there at 10:45am. All are safe and accounted for. The parents fed the two male fledglings on the 10th floor roof at 8:00am.

    The bird at the nest is the young female. Females are last to fly because they’re bigger (more wing load). Her parents haven’t fed her today because they want her to fly. They know that if they feed her at the nest, she’ll just stay there. They don’t like her to be loafing and begging (which is what she’s doing) so they visit the nest to get her up and out. This is similar to human parents who say to their adult kids, “You have to go get a job. We aren’t going to let you stay at home for free.”

    p.s. If they lie face down on the gravel or spread their wings while face down, it means they’re sunbathing.

  4. CHWon 10 Jun 2008 at 9:28 am

    I guess that E2 will remain incognito until the next nesting season, when it is more likely that his bands can be read…that is if he comes back to be with Dorothy!

  5. Kate StJon 10 Jun 2008 at 9:34 am

    My hope is that someone can digiscope him. He’s tough, though. Unlike Dorothy, and his predecessor Erie, he doesn’t perch near windows.

  6. JoAnneon 11 Jun 2008 at 11:30 am

    Is that the female who is still in the nest box? She must be getting pretty hungry by now. Has she been out to follow the parents to get food? It seems that every time I tune in, she is still here, although yesterday, I did see her fly out of the box. I had assumed that she just hopped down to a ledge out of camera sight.

  7. Kate StJon 11 Jun 2008 at 2:48 pm

    This afternoon (June 11 at 2:45pm) it’s the father bird who’s sleeping in the nest box. I have no idea why Dorothy and E2 spend time there.
    Yesterday the young peregrines weren’t particularly active, probably because there was a lot of wind which isn’t fun to fly in if you’re not an expert.
    The young female is fine – has been in and out of the box.

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